Equal opportunities for the Russians


Equal opportunities for the Russians

Since a long time already the Russian minority in Estonia has been a troublesome issue. Estonian laws give them the same rights to form organizations as to everyone else but the Russians living in Estonia are still not using opportunity much.

by Raivo Juurak

At first when Estonia got independent from the Soviet Union it was doubtful for many whether it will remain like that. When this became a clear fact several Russian national parties formed, representatives of which also became members of the Estonian parliament. But soon the Russian national parties started to disintegrate, their members dividing into rightists, centrists, leftists etc. Differences in worldviews became clear and eventually the former members of Russian national parties joined Estonian parties equivalent to their political convictions. At present every considerable Estonian party also has representatives of the Russian minority amongst their members.
Although the most persistent Russian nationalists say that the Estonian government has fragmentized the Russian minority in Estonia with its clever tricks. These opinionated people have founded their own organization called the Union of Compatriots. This organization is getting financial support from Moscow but has not gained a broader popularity amongst the Estonians nor the Russians in Estonia. The nationalism card is no longer of much use in the present-day Estonia.

Social pessimism and political nihilism

Besides political there are several other remarkable activities amongst the Russian minority in Estonia.
One could claim that politically the Russian minority has found its place and is able to use their equal opportunities with the Estonians. But lately problems have risen with the Russian citizen organizations. The most troubling fact is that there are too few citizen organizations of the Russian minority in Estonia. And even these appear and disappear without excelling in something noteworthy. Social pessimism (“the Russians are not considered in Estonia anyway”) and political nihilism (“politics is a dirty business and proper Russians should not be involved in it through citizen organizations or other-ways”) is a wide-spread attitude among the Russian-speaking people.
Quite frankly social pessimism and political nihilism is quite common to Estonians, too and on this background it is inspiring to see how amongst the Russian minority certain bright people stand out taking up the Estonian issues with even much greater energy than the Estonians themselves would.

There are good examples of Russian people that are actively using their civil rights in Estonia (see links to the right). There is still a lot of development needed to solve the integration problems but nevertheless these examples reassure us that it is possible.
So far only the education field was mentioned but in fact one can notice a rising citizen activeness amongst the Russian-speaking community also in other areas of the Estonian society.

translated by Krõõt Juurak

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The nationalism card is no longer of much use in the present-day Estonia. Foto: Nikolaj Bock/Nordbild/NMR
The nationalism card is no longer of much use in the present-day Estonia. Foto: Nikolaj Bock/Nordbild/NMR

Four civil rights cases: