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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

“Estonian Narva will be Donbass”, what you’re afraid of local politics

Last Sunday in Tallinn started naval exercises of NATO. Goal is a reflection of the actions of the aggressor in the waters of the Baltic sea. A few days earlier in the same tiny Estonia from places of permanent deployment took 400 units of armored vehicles of the United States. The goal is the same as that of the sea. And finally, the last: on the border with Russia, Estonia has opened a new frontier. On this occasion, the President admitted that his country did not invest so much money in strengthening its Eastern borders.

And now guess from three times: who is the aggressor nation? People are frightened or afraid of what in NATO and the EU? And why the world’s media absolutely seriously write that Narva is a quiet Estonian province in the East of the country — could be the next after the Donbass “hot spot” on the map of Europe?

photo: Elena Berezina

May 9 at the Bronze soldier in Tallinn is an endless stream of people.

Narva is the most Russian town of Estonia. Russian is more than 80 percent. And the suffering. Apparently, geopolitical position, as a generic curse leaves its mark on the history of the city and the fate of its inhabitants.

To Tallinn 210 km, to St. Petersburg — 143. The border with Russia runs through the center of the city. On the Estonian Bank of the Narva river — Herman’s medieval castle, built in the XIII century by the Danes to protect from the Russians. On the opposite Bank is Ivangorod, and also the fortress, only it was built by order of Ivan the terrible to protect Russian borders from Western neighbors.

Since then here is what happened: someone with someone fighting for this piece of land. Now basically are verbal battles. But preparing something to this…

photo: Elena Berezina
Shishkin pine has become a lucky charm lovers.

“We have war cemeteries more than educational institutions — sad joke the locals. — And we all continue to prepare for war.”

Indeed, as absurd as it may sound, but the European and Estonian politicians believe that the country-aggressor Russia is asleep and sees how to use the social tensions in the region. And even lectures at a local College about how to behave in wartime. And in Narva conduct regular polls to find out how strong among the locals separatist sentiments. Do they like Putin? Whether they are watching their friends and Russian television, and most importantly — do they believe the Russian propaganda?

In Western media there are still articles on the topic: will the Narva Estonian Donbass?

But what turns a curious pattern: the higher the degree of tension between Russia and NATO, the greater the sympathy and love of the local population to the Russian. And once relations return to normal, and people are beginning to treat these issues calmly. These findings, incidentally, came not Russian, Estonian sociologists.

“I’m fed up with these polls about Narva and separatism! — outraged driver. — Better thought of what to do with unemployment. I have a relative working at the mine, says people are fired bursts!”

What is the unemployment rate in IDA-Virumaa and Narva located on the territory of this County — has increased over the year by 20 percent, recently recognized even by the Minister of health and labour of Estonia Eugene Osinovsky. And this, incidentally, is almost one tenth of the total working population of the region. The main shaft of the reductions occurred in the shale industry.

According to officials, the reasons lie in the fall in oil prices. In addition, the negative impact on the economy of the North-East of Estonia and has the ruble. The ruble is falling, the number of tourists from Russia is declining, so local hotels and cafes suffer losses. Here’s food chain.

But simple nuruchan is his explanation of why the unemployment rate have increased too, while in the rest of Estonia, on the contrary, workers are sorely lacking.


It was not necessary to quarrel with Russia, people believe. The lion’s share of the turnover of the Estonian economy is transit and agricultural exports. And then, and more closely connected with its Eastern neighbor. However, after entering the EU sanctions and retaliatory Russian embargo on food products from the EU transport volumes began to decline sharply, and imports of agricultural products generally covered.

“We have the most depressed region. Young people after school leaving in Tallinn or in the countries of old Europe, ” says Martha, the administrator of a local hotel. — And for our generation to go nowhere. Here we have, at least housing is. Besides work, if you do not know the Estonian language, but still there is no citizenship, all the problems will be.”

Holders of grey passports, one of which did not have any citizenship, and the second is the citizens of the Russian Federation in Narva is home to about 15%. Segregation on a national basis — a shame for a tolerant Europe. The Estonian government it is criticized from all sides: both the EU and Russia. These days the official representative of the foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova once again drew the world’s attention on mass statelessness in the Baltic States and accused the government of Estonia and Latvia that they are taking ineffective steps to eradicate the Institute of non-citizens.

In fact, the Estonian authorities are very even try to eradicate this evil open free language courses, are investing millions of euros in the integration of non-citizens, especially the young, even to necessarily recognize the fact of Soviet occupation, no longer insist. Only, it seems, all in vain. The percentage of “seropositive” decreases, but very slowly and, as they say skeptics, mainly due to natural decline of the older population.

“Yes, burned years people — waving March. As many have learned to live without citizenship. To take at least my own family. I have children and Estonian red passport. My husband is grey. While the eldest daughter now lives in Spain, works in a large hotel animator and says he saw in the coffin of our province. Son also went to work, graduated from the courses of welders after school and contract work in Norway. But unlike the sisters are very homesick. Said, the accumulation of money — back. Just who he needed here — no place to run”.

But worst of all my husband of Martha: he’s a military officer, a former “Afghan”, has many government awards. And after the collapse of the Soviet Union was not able to fit into the new political reality. In particular, refused to recognize the fact of Soviet occupation of Estonia. And until retirement was forced to work as a security guard in the Parking lot.

Technically, non-citizens have all the same rights as Estonian citizens except the right to be elected in national and European Parliament. To be members at the local level the law allows them to, and it’s a lot — of local governments in Estonia solid credentials.

But it’s all in theory, but in practice the unenviable fate of non-citizens. The civil service they do not take in the prestigious company, too. Remains small and medium businesses. Often go to work in the tourism industry, construction or trade. Many Russians are opening their own business. The tax law in Estonia — one of the most liberal in Europe. Officials are very quiet, unlike our own, the arms business, do not remove. So in the case of local entrepreneurs are quite good.

Goat Kingdom

Before you settle on a goat farm “, Kono” as a Manager, Ksenia Klochkova has tried many professions. Worked on cruise ships, ran an online store selling household appliances. And another girl are in the business of rescuing old and sick horses, finds them new caring owners.

“I was looking for somewhere to attach another horse; friends advised me to call Repinski Martin, the owner of the goat farm in the County of IDA-Virumaa. Martin agreed to come visit me in Tallinn, where I lived, to see the animal, and as a result took me and the horse to his farm. My friends were shocked, saying you’re crazy, all rush to the capital, and on the contrary, you go in the Outback… But in three years that I live and work here, never regretted my decision.”

photo: Elena Berezina
Farmers IDA-Virumaa dream is that Russia quickly abolished the food embargo.

For three years many changes have occurred. Martin is now a member of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) and there has been agricultural policy. Ksenia in addition to the General farm management in parallel develops the profession of a veterinarian, because animals are constantly required, and are these services very expensive. She was dragged here by his father, who had worked in a major transport company, but when the volume of traffic in Russia began to decline rapidly, the man remained without work.

Farm “, Congo” is the largest farm for breeding goats in Estonia. There are more than 400 animals, not including calves. Goats everywhere — even in the trees. It turns out, the one that climbs above its relatives, and will be in the saddle in the herd.

But Ksenia and Martin has an ambitious dream to bring the number to 10 million animals. They have seen such farms in the Netherlands goat there is a very profitable kind of husbandry. However, in Estonia the agricultural sector is now experiencing not the best times. Subsidies to farmers, the government allocates modest, and the market is small.

“Now, if Russia abolished the food embargo — sigh farmers — then our business would go directly to the mountain!”

And it’s true: only one of the Leningrad oblast can consume more products than the whole of Estonia as a whole. But, alas, the import of agricultural products from EU countries now in Russia under a ban. Ksenia says that to them often come to farmers from Russia, interested in how a profitable business, a closer look, learn from the experience. But I would like closer cooperation, for example, to open a joint production of goat cheeses, yoghurts, milk, ice cream here recently even decided to release.

But all this projects and dreams, and so far the local farmers have, on the contrary, to curtail production: since the introduction of Russia grocery embargo livestock population in Estonia decreased by 20%. Last fall Martin, already being a member of Parliament, called on the Estonian farmers to travel on tractors in Toompea for the government to pay attention to them and to achieve, finally, from state financial assistance, the need for which in connection with the Russian sanctions is growing daily. “Our country has paid the price for having supported sanctions against Russia, the EU to support us,” he says.

The spiritual ties

Not only Ksenia and Martin would like to develop business with Russia. On the Eastern neighbors, and focused most of the tourist companies of Estonia. But if now the Russians are going to see the sights of Tallinn, a hundred years ago very popular among our compatriots enjoyed the resort of Narva-jõesuu, in Russian as Ust — Narva.

It was here, on the Gulf coast, painted his famous ship pine of Ivan Shishkin, one of them is still alive, and according to local tradition, newlyweds and couples come here to tie a ribbon and make a wish. A hundred years ago, virtually all of St. Petersburg’s elite vacationed here at local resorts and worked.

Leskov, Nabokov, Pasternak, Severyanin, each of them praising this magical land in his works. Even the Grand Duke Konstantin Romanov wrote in his diary: “Above the desert, the sandy face of the waves are given here charm”.

But now the local resorts are experiencing hard times. Tourists from Russia every year is becoming less of a crisis; come to the rescue of Moscow and St. Petersburg summer residents — many on the coast of the Gulf of Finland and lake Peipus, which is immediately adjacent to private property. With their arrival, the region comes alive: you start to work a variety of bars, cafes, retail outlets over the summer, doing the annual plan. But summer is short in the Baltic States, and in September, life on the coast again freezes.

The only local attraction where not overgrown popular trail is the famous pyukhtitsky monastery. Pilgrims seek here hoping to get prayer help and a chance to recover or resolve their own difficult life circumstances. Come even from Moscow.

photo: Elena Berezina
Pyukhtitsky monastery — Orthodox jewel of Estonia.

Among the nuns, too many Muscovites and residents of suburbs. Perhaps because the monastery is directly subordinated to the Patriarch of all Russia. Although to meet thousands of kilometers from home is not simple countrywoman, a resident of their neighborhood Bibirevo of course, I did not expect. Innocent nun — choir Director — interested in how it fares Moscow that changed the shape of the hometown. And saying goodbye, says to be sure to go to the Holy spring, and if not to swim, then at least to drink the healing water.

According to legend, four hundred years ago the blessed virgin Mary was blessed by the presence of a local spring — Spasov key. And since then did not stop healing people who come to the source for strength and health. Even the eccentric sister of Marina Tsvetaeva Anastasia to 95 years swam in its icy water — and, say, looked great.

“Love to fatherlike coffins”

This year for the first time in Estonia passed the action “Immortal regiment”. May 9 in the EU — a normal working day. But the people from morning until late at night and walking on a military memorial cemetery with red carnations to honor the memory of Soviet soldiers-liberators. Small children along with moms laid out on the lawn of a huge floral carpet in the form of a red star symbols, and the older teen stood in the honor guard at the Bronze soldier, and in the heat and in full military ammunition.

photo: Elena Berezina
During the action “Immortal regiment”.

Of course, not without a great policy. Russian television channels, anticipating that the action can ban, sent his crew in Tallinn. The Estonian authorities, in turn, caught the TV crew who came to work on tourist visas, and send them back to Russia.

Amid the political hysteria was particularly struck by the highly professional behavior of the police. Route March “Immortal regiment” was not agreed with the authorities. But the organizers of the rally despite the ban led the column on the roadway, blocking traffic on the highway, and even by the military part of NATO. Knowing how such acts of mass disobedience react typically the Metropolitan law enforcement, I was not ready to calm the reaction of the Estonian police. They just sat on their ATVs, encircling the demonstrators from the stream of vehicles, and given the “stubborn Russian to access my Alyosha”.

Perhaps someone will say that it’s a smart political move — why out of the blue to create conflict, to escalate social tensions? But I like to think that Estonians, as well as Russian, is also no stranger to the feeling of “the love for fathers ‘coffins”. Maybe even more than us. At least the part of the military cemetery, where are buried the soldiers of Estonia, looks a lot more groomed than the one where the Soviet soldiers are heroes.

It looks like the German war cemetery…

On the eve of the celebrations, we went among the graves of famous cemeteries with Andres Valme, Chairman of the “Estonian military memorial”. He showed me the broken plate, erased the letters of the names and spoke bitterly: “March “Immortal regiment” is, of course, good. But that will take another Day of Victory, and everyone will forget again until next year about the Soviet heroes-liberators. Now let’s see the graves of those with whom they fought, and say, whose graves look more well groomed?..”

photo: Elena Berezina
It looks like the Russian cemetery.

The question is not rhetorical. Andres many years engaged in the restoration and improvement of Russian and Soviet military graves. According to him, in the battles for Estonia during the great Patriotic war killed about 100 thousand Soviet soldiers, during the Civil war — about 15 thousand people. But systems of care for military cemeteries in Russia, funds for their maintenance is allocated meager. You have to collect money from the world on a string, although those wishing to donate to this good cause among Russians every year becoming less. However, Germany does not spend money on the graves of soldiers of the Third Reich had a decent look. In Narva is one of the largest military graves where the Germans brought the remains of their soldiers from the North-East of Estonia, spending on land purchase and improvement total millions of DM.


— This is for you! — two girls in the centre of Tallinn handing me a delicate daffodil. Perhaps seeing the incomprehension in the eyes, I explain: — we Congratulate you on mother’s Day!

Girls were not participating in the promotion or flashmob. They were just passing and decided to share my good mood with a tired Russian tourist. This fleeting meeting in a foreign country brought upon a simple idea: ordinary people in our countries understand and get along with each other.

This is just politicians — and in Estonia, and in Russia and in other countries involved in this strange, stupid and senseless confrontation between the West and East — need to show more tolerance and tolerance. A notorious “Russian world” must mobilize our country for cooperation, rather than competition.

One can endlessly enumerate, than who is right or wrong, to measure the economies, weapons, resources. But isn’t it better to remember what unites us rather than divides? Common history, culture. Our children, in the end who want to live in peace and harmony, knowing no boundaries, language and other barriers.

After all, how simple it is to approach a stranger on the street to stretch and flower…

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