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Russian, Estonian Tensions Still Simmer

“The reasons for any war must be sought in the mistakes and miscalculations of peacetime, and their roots are in the ideology of confrontation and extremism,” Mr Putin said.

At a celebration of the annual holiday marking the end of the Second World War, Russian President Vladimir Putin has condemned people who “desecrate memorials to war heroes”, accusing them of sowing discord between nations.

His comments at a Victory Day commemoration in Red Square appeared to be a continuation of a war of words with Estonia.

Estonia last month moved a Soviet-era war memorial out of the city-centre of the capital, Tallinn.

The move angered ethnic Russians in Estonia, and led to violent clashes.

One person was killed in the disturbances, and hundreds arrested.Many Estonians consider the monument a symbol of the Soviet occupation, which continued for nearly 50 years after World War II, but for Russians it commemorates the Soviet Union’s role in the victory over Nazism.

A reader offers the following opinion analysis:

The European Union, which sees Russia as a regional rival, has officially come out in support of Estonia, as has the United States. EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso made pro-Tallinn remarks at the German Foreign Ministry, which currently holds the revolving presidency of the European Union. He was supported by  Hans-Gert Poettering, President of the European Parliament, who said that “We stand side by side with Estonia, because it belongs to the European family.” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier added that the Germans had been lobbying the Kremlin to back off and assured Estonia of Germany’s “continued help.” The remarks are likely to be met with anger in Moscow, which has long been a rival of Germany’s for Baltic influence, and suspicion in Tallinn, where the population holds Germany to blame for handing their nation over to Stalin (along with much of Poland, Romania, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania) as part of the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939. Allied recognition of Soviet claims based on the Pact led to the integration of Estonia into the USSR until independence in 1991. The European Union has so far contented itself with a war of words, ignoring Estonian calls for sanctions and the suspension of the coming Russian-EU summit. A sense is growing in Estonia that the tiny Baltic nation is being used as a pawn between two giants. There are some efforts among ordinary Estonians and ethnic Russians to come to an understanding. The potential success of this “white tulip” campaign is difficult to estimate, given the larger forces involved.

Meanwhile, Russia has restricted vehicle access to Estonia across the Narva as tensions escalate. Fuel exports to Estonia had already been interrupted. “Victory Day” celebrations, when flowers are supposed to be laid at the Bronze Soldier monument in dispute, will likely bring out many ethnic Russians — who make up an estimated one-third of the population — and may lead to clashes similar to earlier violence. At least one ethnic-Russian teenager has been arrested by Estonian police for his role in a hacking campaign against government websites, which Tallinn blames on the Kremlin. An ethnic-Russian vigilante group, Night Watch, has denied that it plans violence.

In Moscow, young nationalists from pro-Putin groups like Nashi ended their loud “siege” of the graffiti-scarred Estonian embassy, after Ambassador Marina Kaljurand, who had been attacked by some of the nationalists, left on a “holiday” on foreign advice. The Kremlin sees the crisis as a threat to Russian power and influence, with the Second World War symbology being merely a gloss for much larger issues.

Ousted oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who is blamed for looting the Soviet economy in the Yeltsin era, has called from his London exile for the violent overthrow of Putin’s nationalist government, and, along with other ethnic-Jewish oligarchs, is under investigation for financing opposition both domestically and on Russia’s periphery. (See Putin finds himself in a difficult position, having to balance calls for decisive action from hardliners with realpolitik.

The incident is not only unfortunate but is highly dangerous for all European people: an alienated and weakened Kremlin only increases the power and influence of the European Union and its anti-white agenda, while the stoking of ethnic tensions — the bane of Europeans — will reawaken hatreds and division when unity is needed more than ever between all European peoples. And while the crisis has much greater complexity than the legacy of World War II and Stalinism, the horror of those disasters  and the crimes of all sides continue to resonate and divide our people even as the continent slowly falls to Third World invasion.


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