Tallinn mayor's interpretation of May 9 raising questions in many

  • 2022-05-03
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The address made by Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kolvart in the Russian-language media on the occasion of the upcoming May 9, celebrated as Victory Day in Russia to commemorate the victory in World War II, has raised eyebrows in parties with a right-wing world view in Estonia, Postimees reported.  

Opposition Isamaa MP Mihhail Lotman pointed out that the mayor's appeal has drawn a strong response both in the Estonian-language media and in Russia. While the Estonian media stresses that Kolvart is misinterpreting the events of World War II and May 9 cannot be a day of reconciliation for Estonians, as it was the day when Nazi German occupation was replaced by an even more brutal Soviet occupation, Russian media has accused Kolvart of betrayal for being in league with the Nazis and of renouncing the dignified celebration of May 9.

Lotman emphasized that when evaluating a text, especially if it is a call, it is important to understand what is the purpose of the text and to whom it is addressed.

"If Kolvart's aim is to explain to the pro-Russian people the truth about what is happening in Ukraine, his text is definitely wrong. What is happening in Ukraine is a war of genocide and no 'balanced' assessment can be made here, as it would mean justifying the aggressor," he said.

"I think he knows the addressees of his call and knows that they don't want to know the truth, but want to live in their cocoon of lies and dismiss all truthful information as Russophobia," the MP said.

According to Lotman, Kolvart's appeal was not the most fortunate also if the aim was to avoid conflicts and provocations.

"I nevertheless do not believe that it is still justified to address different messages to Estonian- and Russian-speaking Tallinners, even on such a sensitive subject as May 9," the MP added.

According to Kristen Michal of the Reform Party, which is part of the opposition in the Tallinn city council, the only appeal that would be worthy of pronouncement by the mayor of the capital would have been that May 9 is not a day of celebration.

Michal said that what was perhaps once born of remembrance of the fallen has been turned by Putin and the services of the Russian Federation into a political technology tool for expanding one's sphere of influence.

"The 'Immortal Regiment,' St. George's ribbons, consistent value-realm clashes with countries where the end of World War II meant arbitrariness, the arrival of occupation and suffering instead of freedom. It is also true that the giver of the message also gives the context to the message," Michal said.

"The Great Patriotic War, which the mayor holds dear to his heart, is said by Wikipedia to have come from a radio call by Joseph Stalin on July 6, 1941, by the way. In the West, people being  forcibly deported, civilians killed, creativity and freedom deliberately suppressed, has a name very different from freedom," the Reform Party MP added.

Kolvart, a politician from the Center Party, stressed in his call that none of us want war, not in our hometown, nor our homeland.

"No one wants to abandon their home to save their own life and the lives of their loved ones. And this message is carried by the celebration of May 9. This responsibility was left to us by those who were in the Great Patriotic War. Those who suffered in the rear, and also those who rushed to the front line. None of them wanted war," the mayor said.

"On May 9, millions of people mark the end of suffering and bitterness -- the end of war. On May 9, we commemorate all the fallen, we commemorate the heroes who defended and liberated and did everything to end the horrors of war," he said.

Kolvart called for the avoidance of amplifying conflicts on May 9, as this would harm everyone.

"We all understand that if something happens at the Bronze Soldier on May 9, everyone will suffer. The perpetrators will be found. Regardless of which side the first stone flew from. Emotions and a sense of protest may remain, but at present no one can prove anything to anyone. At present, only the escalation of tense relations in society and the escalation of conflict can be achieved," he said.

"This cannot be allowed. If this day is close to your heart, if this memorial is close to your heart, then go to it, lay flowers and pass by provocations no matter from which side with dignity, with your head held high. In this way, you will demonstrate behavior appropriate of our memories, and courage," the mayor added.