Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I Really Don't Want to Talk About Rein Lang's Birthday Party

Turns out there's an Apple store at Tartu Kaubamaja now! All-white and everything. No iPhones, though. Bought a new suitcase last night for my Eurotrip. Booked a Thalys ticket from Paris to Amsterdam, and a night at Rembrandt Square Hotel. Watched the Jeremy Clarkson episode of "Have I Got News For You" on YouTube.

No? Not interesting enough?


Yes, it was a massive faux pas on Lang's part, he should've known it would start a shitstorm. Maybe he did. Lang is without question the most outspoken and direct politician in Estonia right now. He makes Andrus Ansip look like Arnold Rüütel.

You gotta see his point though, in that it's none of Russia's fucking business. The play is anti-faschist, it's been produced throughout Western Europe, and I dare say some government officials must've seen it.

Estonia's attitude to fascism is indeed different to that of Western Europe, for the simple reason that Estonia did not take part in WWII. Prince Harry had to apologize for his Nazi outfit because in Britain, undue levity on the subject is insulting to the memory of the nation's desperate struggle against the enemy. Essentially the same phenomenon as Russia's cultivated formal anti-fascism, though not to such an extreme. Estonia neither fought for nor against the Nazis though, but was rather fucked by both sides. So now we get to take the piss out of Hitler all we want.

Rein Lang was trolling, and Russia took the bait. Whatever.

The only interesting thing here is a newsbit published on the Russian portal of the public broadcaster, ETV. It appears that some former German MEP came out of the woodwork to claim that in any other EU country, a minister who did what Lang did would have to resign. I'm not going to bother figuring whether the dude got the story wrong or was looking for personal PR regardless. What surprised and annoyed me is that this article appeared on the russian version of ETV24.

Now, I acknowledge Delfi's right to sensationalism, even if I don't like it - they're a commercial enterprise and play to their audience. But ETV is state-sponsored, and by design provides not the content that people want, but the content that people need.

When the author, a fairly prominent LiveJournal user in Tallinn, was called on this, she responded saying that the text was in fact a translation from the Estonian edition of Postimees. The original, of course, looked a lot less objectionable.

As I said, it is in the nature of Estonians to criticize each other at each opportunity, and the unity of the crisis did nothing to change this. It's part of what makes the little country great - ultimately everybody is kept in check. And yet when the local Russians criticize the government, especially after the April riots, especially at the taxpayer's expense, it looks outrageous.

A curious phenomenon. It appears that the local russian-language news media really do need to be cleaner than the wife of Caesar. And Rein Lang doesn't.


Giustino said...

Estonia was basically put in the same position as Denmark was in the war. The April 1940 German occupation of Denmark followed the same route that the September 1939 assistance pacts took in Estonia.

The only difference is that Denmark put up "ceremonial resistance" before agreeing to be 'protected' by the Nazis. That was the thing that Tõnisson had pressed Päts to do, but Päts declined.

So essentially, Estonia's experience in WWII is not solely an Eastern European one. When the Red Army landed at Bornholm, the Danes worked diligently to get the 'liberators' off their property. They knew then, as well as the Estonians knew, that the coming of the Red Army did not portend liberation of any kind.

Jens-Olaf said...

I've googled 'Denmark 1940'. And one of the first links are from the Ministery of Foreign Affairs where they emphazise this at the beginning:
'England reacted by occupying the Faeroe Islands on 12 April, and attempted to seize Denmark's merchant navy; 2/3 of the ships ended up in allied service. E. Reventlow, the Danish envoy in London, maintained his diplomatic status. H. Kauffmann in Washington, however, reserved his position and in April 1941, he signed an agreement with the USA which gave the States the right to set up military bases in Greenland, which had been under the protection of the States since the outbreak of war.'

Luck and the right person at the right place at the right time.


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