Friday, April 27, 2007

Russian To Judgement.

There used to be a joke in the old USSR that Estonia was the biggest nation on earth because it's coast was on the Baltic, its capital in Moscow and its population in Siberia. The country lost its independence during World War Two when it was annexed by the Soviet Union so understandably they aren't particularly happy with the Red Army and are keen to remove traces of its legacy like great big Red Army shrines in the middle of their capital. Given that Estonian hostility to the USSR stems from the destruction of their independence the behaviour of Russia has been undiplomatic at best, with senior Russian figures declaring that it not a domestic affair of Estonia. Russian nationalists still feel that the former USSR and Eastern Bloc is part of some mythical sphere of influence which entitles them to over rule the democratic wishes of their neighbours. This is a feeling that is clearly being stoked by Putin and his supporter to bolster his domestic appeal.

What makes it even more insulting is Russia's risible claims that the Red Army were an anti fascist force who liberated Europe and that dismantling their monuments is therefore pro Nazi. In fact the annexation of Estonia was part of the Nazi Soviet pact originally, so the chutzpah is breathtaking.


Anonymous said...

Let's suppose that the Ukrainian government has decided to destroy a monument in Babiy Yar (a place where lots of Jews were killed during the Nazi occupation). This could be done with a reasonable explanation: after all, Jews have the same status in Ukrainian political myths as Russians in the Baltic ones: they are the convenient scapegoats for the local former communists used to avoid inconvenient questions about their own past. So, in order for the purebred Ukrainians not to feel the past subjugation, the monument is removed (this is fictional). Would you understand the problems Israel will have with this decision? Now why would you expect Russia to react differently to a similar humiliation? What really puzzles me is the absence of normal human reaction from normal ("old") Europeans.

Ross F said...

But the shrine in Tallinn isn't to Russians as an ethnic group but to the Red Army as an instituion.

If Russia hadn't made a fuss about the relocation of the statue it wouldn't be seen as a humiliation in the first place.