Friday, April 20, 2007

Estonica: Dead Men Travelling

In a feat of truly staggering timing, just as the newly formed Estonian government* was tooling up for the removal of the Bronze Soldier memorial ahead of the demonstrations planned for May 9th (the anniversary of Germany's capitulation in WWII), a grave of WWII soldiers was dug up in a Moscow satellite town. The area in question is apparently home to a cluster of megamalls, thanks to easy access via the metropolitan circle road. Most of the unoccupied real estate was apparently the property of a factory making space rocket components, so when the time came for a new shopping center, it was the memorial and six adjacent graves that had to go.

The gloating of the Estonian authorities has been relatively restrained, though there has been some talk of suspicions of foul play - that the whole Khimki debacle was orchestrated by agents in Estonian pay. (Does anyone recall what Estonia's foreign intelligence service is called? It was something ironically innocuous.) Of course, in this case we are obligated to invoke Occam's razor, more specifically the Heinlein corollary whereby one should never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity; making something like this happen with such impeccable synchronicity would be a victory for the Estonian intelligence community to make Mossad weep with envy.

Of course, anyone watching Russian events even moderately closely will have long gained the habit of presuming stupidity.

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*I haven't been covering the government formation business, mostly because I didn't particularly care; but by far the funniest outcome is that our new Defense Minister, the person directly responsible for war memorials and military graves, is Jaak Aaviksoo - until recently the head of Tartu University (and a man with a gift of putting an audience to sleep that is outstanding even by the measure of Estonian politicians). This is specifically entertaining in light of the fact that the post - DM, not rector - has previously been held by Sven Mikser, a guy that was less than 30 years old at the time, and had been excused from Estonia's compulsory army service. He used to be a lecturer at Tartu University's English department, where I got my BA; I've heard stories of him doing improper things with a jack-o-lantern on Halloween, in the dark halls of the former departmental offices.

Still, we're a right military superpower compared to Iceland's 30-strong civil defense team...

3 comments:

Jens-Olaf said...

Is it British humor to quote the Moscow times?
'He linked the decision to the upcoming reconstruction of Leningradskoye Shosse and said war veterans had asked for the reburial due to the prostitutes who gathered in the area at night.'
Then drawing the conclusion - [Estonian secret service] has to place some prostitutes near pronkssodur and everybody will be happy to remove the monument together with the buried soldiers?

erick said...

"Does anyone recall what Estonia's foreign intelligence service is called? It was something ironically innocuous."

Indeed. Its called "Teabeteenistus" (in translation it would probably still be called the Intelligence Service, which sounds considerably more purposeful. For those who do not read Estonian, Teabeteenistus sounds to Estonians a lot like Information Service would sound to you).

Flasher T said...

Jens-Olaf, yes, that is the conclusion I came up with. :)

The curious thing is that I am now seeing reasonable, intelligent people suggesting that digging up war graves for the benefit of a new bypass is A-OK. Which leads us to the inevitable realization that all Estonia needs to do to make this OK is to construct the underground parking lot, long-planned somewhere in that area, on the Bronze Soldier grounds.

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