Thursday, 3 May 2007

Mother Russia Stirring

The Good old Soviet times are here. Almost.

The conflict between Estonia and Russia is threattening to escalate. Last week's removal of a WWII monument and adjacent remains of fallen Red Army soldiers precipitated severe riots in the capital Tallinn. After that, pro-Kremlin youth organisations attacked the Estonian embassy in Moscow. By some stroke of unluck, the swedish ambassador was caught in the fray too.

Reports are coming in on several attacks on estonian websites that can be traced to Kremlin-owned Internet adresses. Deliveries of Russian goods to Estonia are also reported subject to infinite delays due to Russian "maintenance". The youth organisations picketing the estonian embassy have also received official permit, something quite hard to come by in the Russian capital on other occations.

As a former Soviet "reublic", Estonia has a russian speaking minority. It is not as large as in Latvia, but Estonia shares it's neighbours rather harsh and excluding wiev on citizenship for the russian speakers.

That does not excuse the Kremlin's arrogant behaviour. The country has undegone great economic change under president Putin, much due to rising energy prices worldwide. Parallel to that, Russia has become more and more opressive and is now but a democracy in name. Ngo's are banned. The media praises it's Great Leader in a sycophantic style remeniscent of old times. Independent journalists die mysteriously and officials whiningly complains about the EU and foreign countries meddling in their "internal affairs". In Kremlin Newspeak of today it's neighbours and former communist satellites are referred to as "The Near Abroad".

The fall of the Soviet Union two decades ago brought great hope. With large parts of the empire now independent states, many of which are democracies, much have come true. But Russia is reverting to old totalitarian traditions with roots that go back centuries.

Surely the way to deal with this great sleeping giant is of course more integration and economic cooperation, not less. Basically the same formula that has totally erased the notion of another war in central Europe and that has made the German re-unification possible.

But as long as Russia's fledgling democratic institutions are weakening in stead of growing, this can not come to pass. In the long run the rospects are bleak. Way too bleak.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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