Staunton, October 28 – Every society develops what have come to be called “urban legends,” stories for which there is little or no evidence but that remain widely believed and both reflect and shape the opinions of people about others. None in Russia has proved more resilient and long-lasting despite the almost complete lack of evidence than belief in “Baltic Amazons.”
The story has it that there are beautiful Baltic women who have become snipers and have taken part in virtually all anti-Russian military actions from Afghanistan on. It has been the subject of at least two Russian feature movies, a huge number of tv programs and articles, and even has its own Wikipedia page (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Tights).
That this notion continues to circulate says a lot about what happens in the low-information environment the Russian government has imposed on its population, an environment in which rumors come to be accepted as fact and do not cease to spread because there is not the bright light of media attention that might dispel them.
The idea that there are “Baltic Amazons,” however, has consequences. It contributes to Russian hostility to Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians, elevating them into the shock troops of the West against Russia on every and all occasions. At the same time, it has become a subject of mirth among Balts and their friends.
Now, a commentary is circulating on some Baltic Facebook pages that reflects their amusement about a phenomenon that doesn’t exist but that many Russians and Russian officials are prepared to swear is. It deserves to be read in full (facebook.com/lauri.talve/posts/10217577283574532) and is reproduced below:
“Just for a bit of fun,” it begins.
“Maybe you already know this, and maybe you don’t, but there has been an urban myth circulating in Russia for many years that there exists a secret elite group of hot Baltic women who have functioned as covert snipers against Russian forces in their various theatres of war. So deep is this urban myth, that even a senior Kremlin spokesman stated that these women exist and made specific allegations against Estonia.
“Meanwhile, the former head of the Prosecutor General’s Investigative Committee in Moscow made allegations that implicated Latvia as a nation that was fielding these teams of beautiful elite snipers against Russian troops.
“Now, common sense would decree that the likelihood that the Baltic nations have these elite teams of hot chicks with sniper rifles is pretty low. It’s more like something you’d expect to see in a Bond movie.
“But you know what? I reckon we should leave the Russians to believe this is absolutely true.”
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