A remarkable example of the Russian minority’s activism is the union of Russian students called Open Republic, founded in 1999. This union has almost 1000 members and is the biggest citizen organization of the Russian-speaking minority in Estonia. Five times in a row the chairman of Open Republic has been elected Jevgeni Krištafovitš who turned 23 this year.
He has been active in solving several political scandals in Estonia. When for example in the small town of Lihula a monument of a soldier wearing the Waffen SS uniform commemorating Estonian soldiers who fought in the German Army was opened then Jevgeni was the first to speak up in the media demanding this monument to be removed. This was even before the government had taken a position about the issue. With this he received the contempt of the enthusiasts of the monument. Jevgeni’s party member the prime minister Juhan Parts eventually took the monument down which was deeply disapproved by all opponents.
When people begun to demand for the removal of the monument of a soviet soldier in Tallinn city centre Jevgeni was again active in supporting the idea, explaining that the Soviet Union had done more harm to Estonia than Hitler’s Germany. Jevgeni has sent letters to Vladimir Putin when he found that the president of Russia had made incorrect statements about population issues. It is most likely that it is for this reason that he has got visa-bans to Russia. Due to his sharp statements Jevgeni is not permitted to go to Belo-Russia where some of his friends are political prisoners.
Jevgeni and the Open Republic have actively fought for bettering the quality of teaching the Estonian language in Russian-speaking schools so that there would not be no students’ uprisings as was the case in Latvia. Jevgeni has been actively involved in the campaign of Estonia joining the European Union. By now he is a law student and knows the Estonian Law by heart. This is something that only very few Estonians can boast with. Jevgeni has bunched together a good number of educated Russian young people that actively use their civil rights.
by Raivo Juurak
translated by Krõõt Juurak
Jevgeni Krištafovitš has been active in solving several political scandals in Estonia.
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