Russian Baltic Party of Estonia becomes a new political force

  • 2000-06-29
  • By Aleksei Gynter
TALLINN - Russian-speaking individuals have formed a new political party to meet needs they say are not being fulfilled by existing parties. The electoral union "People's Trust" forms the foundation of the new Russian Baltic Party of Estonia, according to its board member Viktor Lanberg.

"The union itself had more than 1,000 members, and we receive many applications from people who live in remote towns and want to join RBPE," Lanberg said. Members registered for the new party number 353 so far.

"The new party was established for existing Russian-speaking political parties because of a failure to act efficiently. They are now politically and morally devaluated, because they didn't fulfill their promises to improve the life of national minorities in our country," said Lanberg.

As reported by Baltic News Service, the party's coordinator, Viktor Siimann, said some people seeking to join the party were in no hurry to study its program. That it is led by Ivanov was enough assurance for them.

"I'm positive that Ivanov has a kind of charisma. He values his political reputation," Lanberg said.

In a number of publications in local Russian-language newspapers, the Russian Baltic Party of Estonia faced criticism. The daily Molodyozh Estonii accused RBPE of being a tool of the ruling coalition created to divide the Russian political movement in Estonia.

"There are no grounds for such assertions, because RBPE and the coalition have a reasonable political compromise and nothing more," Lanberg objected.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov revealed some basic points of the new Russian foreign policy conception, BNS reported on March 25. According to the concept, special attention will be paid to Russian speakers living abroad. And now RBPE has been accused of being a part of Moscow's plans.

"This statement is senseless as well. Our party was established as a well-balanced, respectable organization responsible for improving Russian speakers' life in Estonia. We are also looking forward to joining EU," said Lanberg.

Current legislative projects of RBPE concern changing the law on citizenship, the law on family reunification, and the law on language. The party declared it wanted the status of official language for Russian, especially in mostly Russian-populated areas, BNS reported.

According to the party's program, Estonian citizenship should be given to all residents without any special conditions, tests or other conditions if they either were born here or lived here during the restoration of independence.

"This would be 100 percent correct according to EU laws," Lanberg said.

"We consider these plans real, because Estonia is not a mono-national state," Lanberg said. "We can also take into account the experience of European countries, as we have solid contacts with European parties like the Christian Democratic Party of Germany," added Lanberg.

Two major RBPE projects concerning culture are the creation of the Russian Museum and renovation of Russian churches in Estonia.