TALLINN - A pro-Kremlin youth group has decided to strike back at Estonia after several of its members were blacklisted by the Baltic state and barred entrance to the European Union.
A group of 50 Nashi activists presented a list of Estonian figures they want to be declared persona non grata by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They organized a demonstration outside the building while presenting the list.
The list is a response to Estonia's blacklisting of Nashi members that, after the Baltic state joined the Schengen zone on Dec. 21, now forbids them from entering EU territory.
Several prominent politicians are on the Nashi list, including President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Prime Minister Andrus Ansip.
Nashi's Web site reported that next to each name is also written the reason for their proposed restricted status. Over 20 family names are said to be on the list representing political, judicial and independent backgrounds.
The leader of the youth group, Nikita Borovikov, told journalists of plans to compile the list on Feb. 1. He said that the names of those suggested for a travel ban would be gathered from Nashi polls taken from citizens across Russia.
"We're conducting polls in dozens of Russian cities to draw up blacklists of our own based on the opinions of citizens of the Russian Federation," Borovikov told journalists.
He further noted that the list would naturally include what Nashi considered as any Estonian guilty of the desecration of the graves of Soviet soldiers, persecuting "defenders" of the Bronze Soldier monument or propagating an undemocratic restriction of rights.
Earlier, members of a project titled "Russia 's Sovereign Democracy" released a similar proposed blacklist to advise the official Nashi version. Along with the Estonian president and prime minister were Chancellor Allar Joks, Defense Minister Jaak Aaviksoo, ministers Urmas Paet, Rein Lang and Urve Palvo, columnist Mart Helme, honorary counsel to Canada Laas Leivat, Member of European Parliament Tunne Kelam, parliament member Mart Laar, activists Juri Bohm, Ilmar Vananurm, Anti Teravae, and journalist Heiki Suurkask.
The Foreign Ministry stated that currently there are no officials visits to Russia planned.
Nashi recently held a protest against EU Schengen visa policies outside of the European Commission headquarters in Moscow, during which 300 members dressed in World War II-era Soviet uniforms.
The costumes represented solidarity in protest of the removal of the Soviet-era Bronze Soldier monument from the center of Tallinn which sparked widespread public unrest.
Ethnic Russians view the statue as a symbol of Soviet sacrifices made during World War II, while Estonians regarded it as another remnant of oppression and occupation. The event was attended by several of its members blacklisted by Estonia.
"They are not admitting activists who are voicing their civic positions. If we don't tell them today, "Guys, let's deal with each other respectfully," then tomorrow we will not be known as Russians but as some kind of lower-class people," Mariana Svortsova was quoted by the International Herald Tribune as saying.
Svortsova attempted to cross the Finnish border in December and was turned back to Russia due to border cooperation between Schengen members on blacklistings. She was deported from Estonia and banned further entry following her participation in the April riots in Tallinn.