Wednesday, September 14, 2022

For Estonians, Only Russians Who Deny Occupation are a Problem, Velizhanin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 9 – It is long past time to recognize that what divides Estonians and Russians is not language or culture but rather their attitudes to the past. Estonians and many Russians recognize that the Soviets occupied Estonia and with those Russians Estonians have no problems, but some Russians refuse to do so and with those Estonians have one.

            That is because, Vladislav Velizhanin, an ethnic Russian in Estonia, says, those who recognize that what the Soviets did was wrong  and now want to move forward can live with others while those who refuse to and say they can do it again  obviously are not in a position to do so ( reposted at

            Thus, what some Russians and others call the Russophobia of the Estonians is in fact an argument about whether Russians can act like people in other formerly imperial powers and recognize that what they did in the past was wrong or whether they will continue to insist that what was done in the past is what should be done in the future.

            “Until ‘Russians’ in Estonia recognize that their historical past was a crime in relation to the country in which they live and not something heroic, there will remain a certain tension between ‘Russians’ and ‘Estonians,’ just as it continues in Latvia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic (remember the Prague Spring),” Velizhanin says.

            “Getting rid of the myth of the Russian soldier-liberator will finally make it possible to leave behind the main bone of contention between the two and thus any reciprocal manifestations of Russophobia.” What is important is not who your ancestors were, the commentator continues, “but which side you sympathize with now when you know what happened.”

            Most people in European countries have gone through this process of admitting the crimes of the past and thus laid the foundation for good relations now. But Russians have not and are currently behind encouraged by Moscow not to do so ever. That is the source of what Russians call Russophobia, nothing else.

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