Another highly energetic and extraordinary citizen of Russian nationality is Elsa Gretškina – the minister of education of the Soviet Republic of Estonia in the 1980-s.
Developing the ideal of the Soviet Russia Lenin has written that in a socialist country a kitchen girl can become a minister. Elsa is the perfect example of a realization of this principle. Before her political career and work as a minister she worked in the Liviko alcohol factory in Tallinn. One of her tasks there was to mix spirit with water and vinegar (vinegar was one of the components of the vodka “Ekstra”). Later she has said that in order to get the bucket of vinegar to the vodka she had to climb a ladder to reach the edge of the large tank. When Elsa became minister of education she was not very popular amongst the Estonian people. She spoke with a strong Russian accent and during the Soviet era this was not appreciated by Estonians.
After the re-independence of Estonia Elsa proved to be a real Estonian patriot in her soul. She stayed with education but found a new specialization – the Russian-speaking schools in Estonia. Through citizen initiation programmes she has organized many courses and seminars and thus facilitated the Russian-speaking schools’ integration into the Estonian society. At the moment Elsa is organizing open-door days in those Russian-speaking schools where teaching is partially done in Estonian. Other schools can visit and get acquainted in order to take example. She is also helping to create appropriate study-materials. The Tallinn Education Department has financially supported the activities of the citizen organizations founded by Elsa and most probably we will be able to witness positive results.
by Raivo Juurak
translated by Krõõt Juurak
Elsa Gretškina is the perfect example of a realization of Lenin's principle that in a socialist country a kitchen girl can become a minister.
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