Sign placed on the site of vandalised Brone Soldier memorial in 2008. The desecration of the soldiers’ graves by the Estonians was barbaric and beyond the pale. For shame!
A Latvian lawyer, Mikhail Yoffe, turned to the European Court for Human Rights with complaints from the relatives of three Red Army officers who were killed during the liberation of Tallinn from Nazi occupation during the Second World War. Yoffe said he was entrusted by the soldiers’ relatives to defend the honour and dignity of their heroically-fallen loved ones because the official website of the Estonian government referred to them as criminals, aggressors, and occupiers. Quite recently, he won a case in the European Court against Latvia, which accused former Red Army partisan Vasily Kononov of war crimes. Latvia will now have to pay 30,000 euros (1.091 million roubles. 46,382 USD. 23,715 UK pounds) in compensation. At the same time they accuse anti-Hitler coalition soldiers of war crimes, Latvia and Estonia glorify former Nazi collaborators and attempt to re-write the history of the Second World War. Sergei Markov, a member of the Law Committee in the RF Gosduma, he said, “The reason for such policies is clear. The Latvian and Estonian governments are keen on preserving the current ethno-exclusivist non-democratic régime that keeps them in power. If Russians get the right to vote in Latvia and Estonia, the nationalist clique will lose their jobs. Their ideology is Russophobic by nature, they’re attempting to glamorise those who killed Russians. That is the basis of our law suit”. Meanwhile, Yoffe is planning to appeal against the Estonian government’s decision to relocate the graves of Red Army soldiers and the Red Army Soldier Memorial (the “Bronze Soldier”) from Tynismyagi Hill in downtown Tallinn. Moving the graves without permission from the relatives of the fallen is a violation of the Geneva Convention on war graves. Yoffe said that the decision to relocate the graves should be pronounced an act of vandalism and that the memorial should be restored in its former place, a move the Estonian government is firmly against.
4 August 2008
Voice of Russia World Service
Firstly, before commenting, there are loud sorts accusing me of “over-simplification” in these notes. Obviously, in such a short format, one can’t weave in such things as the Drang nach Osten, the Teutonic Order, the particular nature of the medieval Novgorod polity, the waxing and waning of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the rise and fall of the Swedish empire in the Baltic littoral, or the “Baltic barons”. That’s a dodge. Latvia and Estonia have had independent existences only twice in history, between 1920 and 1940, and after 1991. Anything else is revisionism and a distortion of history. If Russia were to deprive a people of the franchise as systematically as do these two Baltic statelets do, there would be a hue and cry from the White House, CNN, and Black Rock. However, there’s silence when basic rights are taken from people of Russian nationality. Dead silence. Reflect on the fact that the Estonians and Latvians were amongst the most enthusiastic volunteers in the SS (right up there with the Bosnians, Albanians, and Galicians) and that the Bush administration has, in effect, given them a blank cheque payable upon demand. If it’s wrong for Russia to deprive a nationality of citizenship rights, then, it stands to reason that it’s wrong when Latvia and Estonia do likewise. None dare call it a rebirth of Nazi racial theories (the Balts were considered “Aryans” by the Nazis, after all)…