Paet: Who's the real fascist?

  • 2007-08-06
  • By TBT staff and wire reports

NO BACKING DOWN: Urmas Paet has turned Russian accusations of fascism on their head (Photo EU)

TALLINN 's Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet has responded to repeated Russian claims that Estonia is the scene of a "neo-Nazi" revival by making similar accusations in the opposite direction.

In an Aug 6 opinion piece in the Postimees newspaper, Paet throws further fuel onto the fire of an already red-hot situation by drawing a direct comparison between Russian security services and the notorious Gestapo, Hitler's secret police.

Paet mentions an event celebrating the history of the Russian security services, attended by President Vladimir Putin.

"Just imagine German leaders marking with pomp and ceremony the anniversary of the establishment of the Gestapo. It's inconceivable," Paet writes.

He also recalls that last year Russia expelled thousands of Georgians on ethnic grounds and says that Georgians and Estonians can meet with discrimination when trying to gain entry to bars in Moscow. "What ideology was it that nearly 70 years ago allowed notices on doors of businesses that people of a certain nationality were nor served?" he asks.

In Paet's words, the brainwashing that is going on in Russia leads to ludicrous results as indicated by an opinion survey in June according to which 60 percent of Russians considered Estonia, with a population of 1.4 million, to be the biggest enemy of Russia, which has a population of 140 million. "Such results can be produced by a combination of systematic brainwashing and an uncritical mind," the minister says.

"I would like Russian politicians, before they next level accusations of fascism at Estonia, to think seriously what this word, this ideology actually means, and whether many similar manifestations are not found in the present-day Russia," Paet says.

The minister also believes that in terms of media freedom Russia is on the same level as North Korea and that it ranks third among the world in the numbers of murdered journalists.

"In one country the birthday of the precursor of NKVD, the Cheka, is held in high honor also among the leaders of the state. In another, marking the anniversary of Gestapo would be equal to political suicide," Paet claims.

The foreign minister's belligerent words will do nothing to break the current spate of name-calling taking place between Tallinn and Moscow. Each side has now accused the other of harboring fascist sympathies and in both cases, nothing is more likely to cause offense, anger and a similarly heated response.

However, less inflammatory advice for Moscow came from Stanislav Cherepanov, leader of the small Russian Party in Estonia, Aug 4.

Speaking to BNS, Cherepanov said "Right now the Russian press is to some degree demonizing what's happening in Estonia, but it's time to drop stereotypes."

The leader of the Russian-speaking party with around 1,300 members expressed the opinion that Russia missed a chance by not attending the reburial of remains of Soviet soldiers exhumed from the former site of a Red Army memorial in Tallinn.

"Russia should have been there alongside others, this would have helped also improve relations with Estonia," he said.

In Cherepanov's words, Moscow should strive to mend fences if for no other reason than because 100,000 Russian nationals live in the country.

"Communications with Estonian politicians have made me realize that they wish to create a dialogue between the two communities," he said. "We need to think about shaping one Estonian nation and about compromises."

Ethnic Russians residing in Estonia must decide which state they regard as their homeland, Cherepanov added. "If it's Estonia, then let's start together building a common and worthy future," he said.