This last week saw the Estonian Embassy in Moscow surrounded by a violent mob and all of a sudden both oil and coal shipments to the country have been halted, with the Russians giving lame excuses of scheduled maintenance and equipment shortages for the halt of shipments.
Now instead of backing down, Estonia has decided to fight back. The main act was to remove the occupation statue despite Russian threats not to do so. This resulted in an uproar in Russian youth (who know little about the criminal past of the Soviet Union) living both in Estonia and those who traveled from Russia. The press has been calling the protesters "ethnic Russians" inferring that the protesters/rioters are Estonian, but most are not.
The Russians claim that the statue was to memorize the fallen soldiers who fought to free Estonia from the Nazis. This of course neglects the Soviet Union's massive amount of assistance to Nazi Germany which allowed the Nazis to steamroll across half of Europe in the first place:
While Britain blockaded Germany at sea to prevent the import of war materials from overseas, all the supplies which the Reich needed for the war were sent directly from the Soviet Union by rail. Stalin promised that what the Soviets could not supply from her own resources, they would buy up on the world's markets and pass on to Germany. Three-eighths of the oil used by Germany in 1940 came from the Soviet Union including high-octane spirit for the Luftwaffe to fight the Battle of Britain. - WikipediaAnd
From the start of the war until Germany invaded the Soviet Union less than two years later, Stalin supplied Hitler with 1.5 million tons of oil, the same quantity of grain, and many thousands of tons of rubber, timber, phosphates (for making explosives), iron and many valuable metal ores, particularly chromium, manganese and platinum. At the time of the invasion, Germany was heavily in debt to the Soviet Union.According to Mr. Rapoport , "one of Stalin's first gifts to the Nazis was to turn over some 600 German Communists, most of them Jews, to the Gestapo at Brest-Litovsk in German-occupied Poland.”. Soviets also offered support to Nazis in the official statements, Stalin himself emphasised that it was the Anglo-French alliance that had attacked Germany, not the other way round and Molotov affirmed that Germany had made peace efforts, which had been turned down by 'Anglo-French imperialists'. - Wikipedia
As part of Stalin's division of Europe with Hitler, it was the Soviets who invaded Estonia first:
Estonia was occupied by Soviet troops on October 18th 1939, as a consequence of the secret amendment to the August 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between the Soviet Union and National Socialist Germany. The Red Army made its final occupation in June 1940. Estonia was formally annexed by the Soviet Union in August 1940 as the Estonian SSR. Many of the country's political and intellectual leaders were killed or deported to remote areas of the USSR by the Soviet authorities during 1940 to 1941. The repressions also included actions taken against thousands of ordinary people.When the German Operation Barbarossa started against the Soviet Union, thousands of young Estonian men were forcibly drafted into the Red Army. Hundreds of political prisoners, whom the retreating Soviets had no time to move, were killed. The country was occupied by Germany from 1941 to 1944. Of the many Estonians who joined the German armed forces (including Waffen-SS), the majority did so only in 1944 when the threat of a new invasion of Estonia by Red Army had become imminent and it was clear that Germany would not win the war.
Soviet forces reconquered Estonia in the autumn of 1944 after fierce battles in the northeast of the country on the Narva river and on the Tannenberg Line (Sinimäed). In the face of the country being re-occupied by the Red Army, tens of thousands of people chose to either retreat together with the Germans or flee to Finland or Sweden.
In 1949, in response to slow progress in forming collective farms, as prescribed by the Soviet ideology, tens of thousands of people were forcibly deported in a few days either to labor camps or Siberia where half of them perished; the other half were not allowed to return until the early 1960s (several years after Stalin's death). - Wikipedia
One could say that the Nazis invaded Estonia to save it from the Russians. Even the Russian claims that they kicked the Germans out of Estonian appears to be a lie:
“The monument to the Soviet ‘liberation’ in September 1944 ... was one of the most hated monuments in Estonia until the Soviet occupation ended 50 years later,” wrote Laar, who was Estonia’s prime minister from 1992-1994 and 1999-2002. He is now leader of Estonia’s opposition center-right IRL union.
He said Estonian soldiers ejected Nazi German troops in 1944 and “restored their national government. The Red Army returned as the Nazis retreated and the flag which was ripped down from the tower of Toompea Castle was not the (Nazi) swastika, but the blue-black-white Estonian tricolor.”
Starting in the 1930s, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were successively overwhelmed by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. They regained their independence in the early 1990s and joined the European Union in 2004. - citizen.co.za
This gentleman is now calling for a commission to investigate exactly what happened while Eastern Europe was under Communist rule:
A former Estonian prime minister has suggested Russia and its Baltic neighbors jointly investigate their shared history since the 1930s to show how Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were overwhelmed first by Nazi Germany, then the Soviet Union.
In an article published Friday in the Brussels-based European Voice weekly, Mart Laar said a panel of historians should lay to rest the controversy over the removal of a Soviet-era war memorial from downtown Tallinn.
Laar suggested the panel of historians be modeled after South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which led to pardons for those confessing to crimes committed during the country’s era of apartheid. - citizen.co.za
Now this incident has reminded Poland that they too have Soviet Statues that they don't want:
The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of Poland is developing a program that will allow local authorities destroy or relocate monuments erected in the Socialist era. Polish Minister of Culture Kazimierz Ujazdowski stated that “symbols of the communist dictatorship will disappear from the cities and streets of Poland as alien to Polish culture.” - Kommersant
As I wrote before in "Europe's Lingering Scar of Communism" until the crimes of communism are investigated, we will not be able to properly document the criminal actions of the Soviet Union. As long as this is not done, the problem with Russia and young Russians is only going to grow, especially since it is the parents and grand parents telling the younger generation how 'great' things were under the Soviet Union compared to how much they suck now.
I have no doubt that life for Russians in Estonia was better for them during Soviet times, but that was at the expense of the Estonians who were forced to accept the Russian migrants and their taking control of most whatever they wanted. This combined with Russian propaganda denying that they ever occupied Estonia is sure to increase the instability in the Baltic States for years to come if not addressed:
Estonia was occupied by the Nazis in World War II and then ruled by Moscow for five decades.
Russia denies the Soviet years amounted to an "occupation" of Estonia. - BBC
Last year the Council of Europe voted against investigating the crimes of Communism, mainly thanks to the Socialist members of the Council who are not interested in seeing Soviet Crimes linked to Socialist movements in the rest of Europe. Perhaps another organization should be created to do the investigation before the witnesses all die of old age. The crimes also need to be properly documented and the Russian population properly educated on the criminal history of their country as part of the process of ensuring that Communism is never glorified again. Just as Nazism has been properly convicted and sentenced so should communism, if for no other reason than to not saddle Russia's youth with the crimes of two generations past.
Despite the backlash Estonia has received from Russia for merely moving a Soviet statue, Poland will most likely pass a law permitting the destruction of Soviet monuments. This understandably has the Russians truly pissed off and sputtering all sorts of lies to turn the victims into the criminals.
If the draft laws are passed, local authorities will have the right to scrap or transfer monuments to Soviet soldiers and memorials related with the liberation of Poland from Nazis. This law is called an act of “decommunisation”, and ideologues of Law and Justice increasingly often call Poland’s liberation by the Soviet Army is 1944-1945 a “new occupation”.
If the two laws are adopted, streets and squares of Polish cities named after the Soviet military or Polish statesmen and party figures of the Socialist period can be renamed. A list of such streets has been already prepared in the Institute of National Memory and circulated to local authorities.
Also known are monuments slated for scrapping. These are a monument to the Soviet-Polish combat brotherhood in Warsaw, a monument to fallen heroes in the town of Szamotuly, two monuments to Soviet soldiers in Dombrow-Gurnice. In Katowice, a monument to the Red Army soldier is to be replaced by a statue of the late US president Ronald Reagan. War memorials in Krakow, Rzeszow and other cities are also in jeopardy. - ITAR TASS (Russia, which explains the pro-Soviet slant)
One thing in Poland's favor is that they do not have to deal with Ethnic Russians as there are not many at all, if any, remaining there. Russia will have to resort to retaliating from abroad. Poland, of course, was the country that the Soviets and Germans split between themselves. So the Russian claim that the Soviets liberated Poland from the Nazis is insulting.
I have been told that the Russians are constantly knocking down their own monuments with no regard to anything than the thinking of the moment. They sure did not waste any time getting rid of their Lenin and Stalin statues. They even went and un-named Leningrad and Stalingrad (which was renamed well before the Soviet Union fell apart). So as far as I can tell, Estonia acted in a much more honorable fashion than Russia does in its own country.
Even if the Estonian Statue and Polish actions were not in the news to remind the world of the criminal activity of the Soviet Union, another statue would have done so. This is the Memorial to the victims of Communism which will be dedicated in Washington, DC on June12th.
Russia should wake up and be honest with its people and the world about the crimes of the Soviet Union. Otherwise Russia will be just as guilty as the communist state that it replaced. Unfortunately, their recent actions don't indicate any willingness to come clean.
Itching for Eestimaa has a great explanation of "why exactly the Estonian state was not content to allow a memorial to the army that supported these actions in Estonia stand beside its national library and the church where it buries its leaders."
Stockholm Slender at Botanist on Alp explains what would have happened if the Soviets managed to occupy Finland as they did Estonia, noting that it was the Red Army that brutally raped Estonia. It is amazing that the Estonian State survived at all.
Remembering the Soviet Union v.1