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I don't know which Marxist countries you speak of. It was never my experience to be "censored by the State" or anyone else when discussing economics of any stripe or variety in communist countries. In fact I was always surprised at the intellectual honesty that seemed to be the hall mark of these conversations. On the other hand, in America I often found that students and government officials were ideologically driven about economics and rarely able to engage in comparative discussion. It was as though communism was a taboo subject and the less said about it the better.
RFM- Estonia abolished the death penalty under all circumstances in 1998 and has not executed anyone since 1991. Russia has signed the sixth protocol but has not ratified it, the last execution took place there in 1999. Your allegations are completely false- no one in any Estonian gaol faces execution.
Narva was not a naval base- it is upriver from the sea and the river is not navigable. It was designated as a border zone and "Strategic industries" were operating in the town- it was therefore closed to Estonians who were considered an unreliable nationality- there were quite large parts of the country that were only accessable by special permit- the islands and Lahemaa, for example.
Since the director of public prosecutions will issue indictments against two Russian agents later today, I think your smears against "the prominent Russian refugee currently residing in London"- I presume you mean Berezovsky- are rubbish.
As far as your race/nation argument is concerned- of course national identity is not a matter of DNA- look at Scotland- however there are things like history, language, culture, religion that contribute to a sense of common national identity- and it exists more or less everywhere. You can hardly point to the Estonians as being especially nationalist just because they have a national distinct history, language, Lutheran church and above all language. These are simple the features that make the Estonian polity different from Finland, Latvia, Russia or any other place.
Dave- I think you have slightly over reacted to my point. Firstly, Estonia is trying to integrate Russians, but it is going about it based on the laws and constitution of a country that was illegally occupied. At the end of the day, Russians if not welcomed, are not being excluded either. There are many prominant Estonians of Russian heritage- Juri Luik, Igor Grazin, Segei Ivanov, and many others- so I reject your idea that Estonia- whether government or people- is in any way fascist. The fact that neither of us loves loves the Kremlin too much does not- in my view- make your point about Estonian fascism correct.
As far as Marxism is concerned- well at Aberdeen I was definately on the business end of the Marxist school, which I rejected explicitly- I do not buy the idea that "all history is the history of class struggle", and after quite a long intellectual journey I would now describe myself as in the Liberal philosophical school- which recognises that no grand theory accurately describes human behaviour- actually that sounds a bit pompous, but I can't be bothered to revise it
Just quickly responding to the "Soviet Union won World War Two" argument. The sacrifices that were made in the war were truly heroic, no one denies this- and remember that the Estonians have not destroyed the memorial, they have simply moved it to a more appropriate location, where the PM and representatives of the government laid wreaths on May 8th.
Churchill once said words to the effect that "If asked to choose between Nazism and Communism, I would choose Communism, but I pray that I am not called upon to choose either." When we look at Stalin's role in the war, there are many abiguities- after all when the war began in 1939, Stalin had already come to a deal with Hitler under the illegal secret protocols of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact which allowed the occupation of the Baltic in the first place. This deal held firmly until the USSR was attacked in 1941.
Yet, as horrific as the Soviet war casualties were, even these numbers are dwarfed by the death toll inflicted by Stalin himself- 3 million starved in the artificial famine in Ukraine in the anti-Kulak drive, and nobody knows how many in the Great Terror and the Purges of the late 1930s. After the War, all of the Chechens and Ingush, Crimean Tatars and the Mesekhtian Turks were deported to Kazakhstan- by the time Kruschev allowed them to come home a third were dead. Anne Applebaum's brilliant Book "Gulag" is a very sober assessment- and gives a death toll (never mind the imprisoned) that lies between about 18 and 40 million. Even the Nazis only managed 6 million.
The fact is that the scale of the crimes of Stalin is gigantic- and it is the failure of the "Chekist" -as he calls himself- Putin to address the issue that has meant that Russia is still mistrusted overseas and psychologically damaged at home. Anyone who travels around Russia soon encounters the dreadful legacy- a brutalised and dispirited people drunkenly living in squalor. (A place indeed that makes Easterhouse look like Centre Parcs).
Personally, I think that the dispute with Estonia simply shows the Putinistas in the very worst light. They applaud the success of Stalin in "The Great Patriotic War", without really ackowledging that he was a barbarian- and a murderer on a gigantic scale.
Now, now Cicero, playing fast and loose with the facts ill becomes a good capitalist and anti-Marxist.
Estonia adopted the European Human Rights Convention in April 1993, specifically omitting protocol 6, forbidding the death penalty. In 1997, life imprisonment as an alternative to the death penalty was enacted in Estonia and abolition of the death penalty rejected. Read Amnesty International Report 1997 and subsequent reports such as Human Rights Watch. The names I gave you are still under awaiting execution as their sentences have not been commuted. What's the matter with you? You think saying "rubbish" is some sort of a response to matters of public record which anyone can look up?
Wherever do you get this silliness that the Soviets regarded Estonians as inherently unreliable? The Soviets had their own criteria for reliability, and nationalism was regarded with great suspicion in any of the several Soviet Republics, including Greater Soviet Russia, for the obvious reason that the nationalist were very clear about overthrowing the Soviet state. You think it is or was different in England, America or Germany? Give me a break.
Yes the Director of Prosecutions has announced he will issue indictments, but if you think that will be the final say in the matter, you are dreaming. As I recall one of the putative accused named Berisovsky as his employer in that matter or so the English press reported. Shall I give you the date and name of the paper or will your standard response still be "rubbish"? You might try some other response than "rubbish"; but perhaps you are simply incapable of a reasoned response.
National identity is a matter of self perception, not objective criteria, it is something akin to religion. Nations are composed of people who have been migrating around most of the world for the past 30,000 to 45,000 years. In other words somewhat homogeneous; but as Conrad put it so well there will always be some cheap politician (or nationalist) who sees an opportunity to fan the flames of hatred and fear for his own personal gain and wave the nationalist flag. If you think Estonian is something objective, you are terribly mistaken; however if that conflicts with your notions of self and who you are, well Sir, you can believe you are Donald Duck if you so desire.
Cicero wrote "Estonia is trying to integrate Russians" - by "Estonia", I assume what is meant is the Estonian government, and by "Russians" I assume what is meant is Russian-speakers. Just as not all English-speakers are English, not all Russian-speakers are Russian. "it is going about it based on the laws and constitution of a country that was illegally occupied" - not good enough. By that standard, Irish Nationalists could claim that the majority of the population of Northern Ireland are incomers who can only gradually be integrated into the "nation", even though they and their ancestors were born there. If people are born in a country, then they should be entitled to full citizenship as of right. Full stop. No exceptions. If the Estonian "laws and constitution" say otherwise, then those laws, and that constitution, are in conflict with internationally recognised human rights, and no lover of freedom should touch those laws, and that constitution, or the government which imposes them, with a bargepole. Yes, the Russian government is authoritarian and has tendencies towards racism and fascism. Yes, Russia is bigger than Estonia and the Russian bear can often be a big bully. But none of this excuses the authoritarianism and the tendencies towards racism and fascism of the Estonian government. The Estonian government only has itself to blame for the disgraceful way it has treated its Russian-speaking population. The Estonian government only has itself to blame for giving Big Brother in the Kremlin the opportunity to pose as the defender of the rights of these Russian-speakers.
About choosing between nazism and communism; it is quite telling that in 1944 many Estonians fled the country together with their nazi-masters because they had had a previous experience of communist-rule in 1940-41.
Communism is far worse than nazism, of course, both are evil and alien to the human nature. When Finland was attacked for a second time by the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941, the Finnish President Ryti signed an agreement of assistance with the Germans. That provided the Finns with a lot of military assistance in both terms of troops and especially weapons. Without that help Finland could not have survived.
Of course, in the aftermath of the war President Ryti was sentenced toprison but Finland managed to retain her independence.
The behaviour of Russia today reminds very much of the Soviet Union pre WWII. Similar bullying tactics.
VLK wrote "The behaviour of Russia today reminds very much of the Soviet Union pre WWII. Similar bullying tactics."
If people are born in a country, then they should be entitled to full citizenship as of right. Full stop. No exceptions. If the Estonian "laws and constitution" say otherwise, then those laws, and that constitution, are in conflict with internationally recognised human rights, and no lover of freedom should touch those laws, and that constitution, or the government which imposes them, with a bargepole. Yes, the Russian government is authoritarian and has tendencies towards racism and fascism. Yes, Russia is bigger than Estonia and the Russian bear can often be a big bully. But none of this excuses the authoritarianism and the tendencies towards racism and fascism of the Estonian government. The Estonian government only has itself to blame for the disgraceful way it has treated its Russian-speaking population. The Estonian government only has itself to blame for giving Big Brother in the Kremlin the opportunity to pose as the defender of the rights of these Russian-speakers.
National identity is a matter of self perception, not objective criteria, it is something akin to religion. Nations are composed of people who have been migrating around most of the world for the past 30,000 to 45,000 years. In other words somewhat homogeneous; but as Conrad put it so well there will always be some cheap politician (or nationalist) who sees an opportunity to fan the flames of hatred and fear for his own personal gain and wave the nationalist flag.
For once, we are agreed. _________________ It's murder every week at Firhill.
RFM- I won't recapitulate the argument- if you are unprepared to acknowledge the simple fact that Estonia does not have the death penalty and has not used it since independence, then it is pretty hard to engage- you are simply wrong. As for "Silliness"- Estonians were made into non-people in their own homeland- it was not a question of political opinions about the USSR, it simple things like being able to speak your own language. If you can not tell the difference between an electoral democracy and a tyranny responsible for the death of millions then you must have the political maturity of a five year old- or Donald Duck to use your own idiom.
Berezovsky can say what he likes, however offensive, because the UK is a free country- if he were to actively participate in violence, he would be commiting a crime and would face criminal proceedings- he is careful to stay within the law.
You may not like national identity- many do not, but it exists and is indeed the basis of the international system. Estonia's identity is no different from any other European State- from Scotland to Switzerland to Sweden.
Dave -parroting the same "give them citizenship line"- does not recognise the facts of how and why the Russians came to be in Estonia. You can be born in a stable but it does not make you a horse. Many of the people you are talking about refused to take Estonian citizenship anyway- and Estonia having been taken off the map once is in no hurry to naturalise a large number of people who refuse to accept the legality or even reasonableness of the idea of Estonia- these were after all the people who destroyed Estonia in the first place (but their children are integrating and those who want citizenship are free to gain it). However, as I keep saying what is extraordinary is the fact that both sides are making compromises and the problem is almost settled as it is. Accusing Estonia of racism and all the other sins is very wide of the mark. Estonia is extremely open, and you can, if you like e-mail Estonian political leaders- Sergei Ivanov in the Parliament for example or Juri Luik in the Foreign Ministry- both of them are of Russian heritage and speak good English and you can hear directly from them a balanced and reasonable assesment of what has been acheived and what stiill has to be done- on both sides of the language barrier.
I am really very disappointed to see the vehemence with which people who are uninvolved can hold positions that are not based on the facts. Objectively, Estonia belongs to the select group of completely free countries- as Freedom House will confirm. It is also one of the most IT literate countries- and Russian and Estonian speakers alike participate in an increasingly hi-tech political system- you can watch both Parliament and Cabinet meetings on a live stream over the internet. The political leaders are not, as in many countries, separated from their populations- a couple of weeks ago I saw the PM in the pub- no security needed. The debate is open and honest- in fact blunt. Estonia guarantees cultural and political rights to its minorities, and if there is lingering bitterness from the occupation, there is also a grudging respect on both sides- and a determination to build an Estonia that works for all of its people.
If you believed Russian propaganda, you expect Estonia to be under seige from outraged Russian speakers- the only seige was a bunch of "Nashi" drunks stirred up by the Russian Embassy who had come over the border for an awayday riot. Sure people were shaken up to find some local hoodlums were involved- Estonia is a pretty peaceful place, and it asks a lot of questions when teenagers start waving Soviet flags. There is much soul searching- but it is the soul searching of a democratic state. Estonia had to demonstrate that it was playing fairly to the Russian speakers in order for them to be even considered as members of the European Union- they have consistently passed every test of the Copenhagen criteria with flying colours.
Meanwhile, across the border, it is Russia that is rated "Not Free" by Freedom House, Russia that breaks its legal contracts and occasionally international law, and Russia that sends over its agents to murder its enemies. It is Russia that accuses Estonia of Fascism -they say the same about the USA, by the way. Yet, frankly this just another example of the "tell a lie big enough and they will have to beleive it" school that shows the continuing Soviet mark on the Putin regime in the Kremlin.
Rinty- FH has a transparent process as to how it reaches its judgements, check their website for the detailed methodology that they use. The fact that it is American is irrelevent, it is a non government organisation with an extremely good reputation.
If still don't wish to accept their judgements, then how about the compendious reports from the European Union that evaluated Estonia is extreme detail during the accession process (you can find much material on the Europa website)? Or the myriad reports from SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) and other allied groups?
"Its American and Anti-Communist"- So what? Being Pro-Communist does not exactly mark you out as a defender of humanity does it? Mao killed even more than Stalin, and Pol Pot was hardly a bespectacled human rights activist was he?
The US may have many faults but I'd rather live in Pittsburgh than Perm any day of the week.
> Dave - parroting the same "give them citizenship line"
To "parrot" something is to repeat someone else's views. I never "parrot" anything. Any view which I express is my own view, and it is expressed under my own name. I do not "parrot" any long dead figure from antiquity.
> - does not recognise the facts of how and why the Russians
You mean the Russian-speakers. I am an English-speaker, but I am not English. I recognise the simple fact that, given the dominant status of the Russian language both under the Tsarist Empire and under the USSR, there are bound to be many Russian-speakers who are not Russian.
> came to be in Estonia. You can be born in a stable but it does not make > you a horse.
The first time I heard that analogy used was in the early 1970s, when I was working on a building site in London, and one of my fellow building workers used it to justify his own racist views towards children born in England to immigrant parents. I have heard it used on dozens of occasions since then, and every time I hear it I know it is being used to justify racist discrimination.
> Many of the people you are talking about refused to take Estonian
> citizenship anyway
"Many" ? Exactly how many ? This sounds like a classic racist myth, based on dodgy or non-existent evidence, to me.
> Estonia having been taken off the map once is in no hurry to naturalise > a large number of people who refuse to accept the legality or even
> reasonableness of the idea of Estonia
I do not believe it is fair to depict all of the people who have been deprived of citizenship by the Estonian government as folk who "refuse to accept the legality or even reasonableness of the idea of Estonia". In any case, even if some of them DO take this view, it is IRRELEVANT . There are loyalists in Northern Ireland who are bitterly opposed to the whole idea of a Republic of Ireland, yet these people are, under Irish law, entitled to an Irish passport if they so choose. So far as Scotland is concerned, the position is that EVERYBODY in Scotland at independence will be entitled to citizenship, yes, even people who refuse to accept the legality or even the reasonableness of an independent Scotland.
> these were after all the people who destroyed Estonia in the first place
The vast majority of the Russian-speaking immigrants to Estonia arrived to work at relatively menial jobs, the same as many immigrants elsewhere. Even under the USSR the "native" Estonians tended to have higher incomes etc, and with the establishment of a regime practising "positive discrimination" in favour of Estonian-speakers this tendency became more pronounced. These were people who arrived to seek a better life for themselves and their families, same as immigrants everywhere.
> Objectively, Estonia belongs to the select group of completely free countries- as Freedom House will confirm.
You can parrot this so-called "Freedom House" as much as you like, I don't give a damn, any country which denies citizenship to some of the people who were actually born there can NOT be described as "free".
> Estonia had to demonstrate that it was playing fairly to the Russian speakers in order for them to be
> even considered as members of the European Union
My own standards are somewhat higher than those of the EU.
> Meanwhile, across the border, it is Russia that is rated "Not Free" by Freedom House
There you go again, parroting somebody else's opinion.
However, I would agree that Russia is "not free".
Neither is Estonia.
Just to be fair and balanced, very few countries allow automatic citizenship to all people born within their territories. The UK doesn't, for example. In fact the USA is one of very very few countries which does grant automatic citizenship to anyone born within its borders. _________________ "Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition."
"Rinty- FH has a transparent process as to how it reaches its judgements, check their website for the detailed methodology that they use. The fact that it is American is irrelevent, it is a non government organisation with an extremely good reputation. "
No they are a lobby group for countries to provide the sort of freedoms acceptable to multinational corporations, they are politically motivated and biased.
They are one of those responsible for the lie that Venezuala has no freedom of the press when 90% of the press is privately owned and anti-Chavez.
Even though it is now common knowledge that the coup was staged with the help of the USA and the shootings that supposedly sparked the coup were stage managed by TV, they insist on attacking venezuala simply because of the move to public ownership and social programmes.
Freedom House is not an unbiased source and is not worth quoting as some sort of independent guide to freedoms.
It is certainly not the internationally recognised human right you say it is.
I would say in most cases people are entitled to the citizenship of their parents when they are born, but that applies no matter where their mothers happened to be at the moment of giving birth. _________________ "Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition."
Holebender wrote "It is certainly not the internationally recognised human right you say it is".
What you mean is, it is not universally recognised by governments.
Well, that is just a statement of the obvious !
Nevertheless, so far as genuine lovers of freedom are concerned,
a child born in a country has the right to citizenship of that country.
The fact that this right is recognised by people in many different
nations throughout the world makes it an "internationally
recognised human right".
> I would say in most cases people are entitled to the citizenship
> of their parents when they are born, but that applies no matter
> where their mothers happened to be at the moment of giving birth.
Yes, there is also THAT internationally recognised human right.
One does not exclude the other. My daughter and my son-in-law
were both living and working in Prague for some time. My grandson
was born there. I would say that makes my grandson entitled
to both Czech and British (or, when we become independent,
Scottish) citizenship. Now, as it happens, my daughter and family
did not remain in the Czech Republic. After a couple of years
they returned to Scotland. They have not sought to claim
Czech citizenship for my grandson. But what we are talking
about in the case of Estonia is people who were born in that
country, grew up in that country, got married in that country,
had children in that country, and these children of children
born in Estonia have no automatic right to citizenship,
because they were born into a Russian-speaking family.
That, to me, is a blatant abuse of human rights. The fact
that Russia is also guilty of blatant abuses of human rights
in no way excuses racism and fascism in Estonia. Two
wrongs do not make a right.
We must remember that Estonia would not have been allowed to join the EU if their policies regarding minorities didn`t meet the international standards. In this respect calling Estonia fascist and racist is exaggeration.
However, it would be in the interests of Estonia itself that as many Russian-speaking people as possible could be granted the Estonian citizenship. As has been pointed out many times, there are a lot of Russian-speaking people who do not want to be Estonain citizens but they still consider Estonia their home. This attitude, which I like to call superiority complex, stems from the old Soviet days and is especially prevalent among the elderly people. Often when asked whether they consider Estonia or Russia to be their home-country, the answer is that neither, their home-country is the Soviet Union.
It is true that many Estonians would like most if not all the Russian-speakers to leave the country. This is not a realsitic option as Estonia is their country of birth and they wouldn`t have anywhere to go in Russia. All those Russians who were bound to leave have left. When Estonia regained her independence, the Russian-speakers made up about 35% of the population, today that rate is 25%.
There is also the question of language in play. Despite its large Russian-speaking population, Estonia is officially strictly monolingual. It is impossible to get a good job without the ability to speak Estonian. As Estonian and Russian belong to completely different categories of languages, it is very hard for especially the elderly people to learn a new language.
Besides, some areas in Estonia, especially North-East around the towns of Narva and Sillamäe are effectively Russian-speaking only. When I have been to Tallinn I have noticed that you can hear much more Russian spoken there than Estonian.
VLK wrote "We must remember that Estonia would not have been allowed to join the EU if their policies regarding minorities didn`t meet the international standards".
It depends what you mean by "international standards". All we can really conclude from this is that, after some prompting from the EU, and faced with the possibility of not being allowed to join the EU if changes were not made, Estonia managed to meet certain absolute minimum requirements, and the existing countries of the EU decided that it was in their interests to allow Estonian membership.
"In this respect calling Estonia fascist and racist is exaggeration". - Yes, that would be an exaggeration. But who has made such an exaggeration? Certainly not me. An exaggeration is when you make a statement with some element of truth, but expand that element of truth beyond what is truthfull. For instance, if the proportion of Welsh-speakers in a particular area of Wales is nearly forty percent, but you say that it is nearly half, then that is an exaggeration. So yes, calling Estonia fascist and racist would be an exaggeration, but it is undeniable that there is racism in Estonia, and it is undeniable that there are fascist elements in Estonia.
In my personal opinion - and I really don't give a damn what the EU says, or what this so-called "Fredom House" organisation says, I make my own mind up about things - any country which does not allow automatic citizenship to every child born within its borders can not be described as truly free. By my standards, Estonia is not free.
"It is true that many Estonians would like most if not all the Russian-speakers to leave the country. This is not a realsitic option as Estonia is their country of birth and they wouldn`t have anywhere to go in Russia. All those Russians who were bound to leave have left. When Estonia regained her independence, the Russian-speakers made up about 35% of the population, today that rate is 25%."
The phrase "bound to leave" sounds very dubious. In the UK, openly racist and fascist parties such as the BNP take the view that a large percentage of black people born in the UK are "bound to leave". VLK admits that ten percent of the entire population of Estonia has left, and that many Estonians would like a quarter of the remaining entire population to leave. That is NOT something of which Estonia can be proud.
The Estonian authorities' decided to move war memorials to those who had died fighting the Nazis. That decision had the support of at least some Estonians who really were both racist and fascist. It was opposed by many Estonian-born Russian-speakers who took the view that the part played by their parents or grandparents or other relatives in fighting Nazi Germany was something of which to be proud. In this, of course, they had the backing of the Russian government, which also takes the view that the USSR's fight against Nazi Germany is something of which to be proud. Now, of course there are many things of which Russia can not be proud. There are many elements of racism and fascism to be found in Russia. But the decision to move the war memorials to less prominent places was rightly seen as downplaying the significance of the fight against Nazi Germany. Of course this gave Big Brother in the Kremlin the opportunity to meddle in Estonian affairs. But the Estonian government has only itself to blame for creating this situation.
There's a lot of countries formerely behind the iron curtain where saldy neo-nazi and facist beliefs are on the rise. In Poland there were instances when human swastikas were formed at football matches. In Russia there are also anti-asian paramilitaries being formed all over the country to attack and occasionally murder immigrants from counrties like Uzbeckistan, Turkmenistan ect who racially differ from Russians. These evil groups featured on Ross Kemp On Gangs a while back.
_________________ I will never apoligise for my Scottish blood, my Scottish mind or my love for my nation. You will never kill our will to be free.
ALBA GU BRATH - SCOTLAND FOREVER
FOR A SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF ALBA
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