Monday, May 14, 2007

Who are we, russians!? Original article in Estonian

Here is an adequate article from Raul Kalev, the Estonian guy who lives close to Tõnismägi. He got detained in the night 26.04 just because he went outside to protect his home. This one is his third publication on the matter in "Postimees" , i mostly share his opinion and will try to translate it to English. Sorry for mistakes, language corrections will be appreciated.

Previous articles can be found here (in Estonian):


On the problem of the Bronze Soldier:

Who are we, russians!?

The opinion of PR-manager Raul Kalev declares, that in order to integrate some community into Estonian society it should be clearly understood, who are ones should be integrated.

Once upon a time one pure blood Georgian man with Estonian passport was walking on Viru street. He was happy 'cause his chief raised his salary. It was told him, that now in Estonia we like small folks such as Georgian and Chechen and that you've had worse fate as we've had. We should keep together. On the corner of Vene street southerner with his head in the air bumped into his nephew, half-georgian and half -abkhazian. He was very sad 'cause he just got fired. It was sad him, that you Russians sow the dissension between peoples, you destroy the city, Estonian companies don't need such ones.

I find that the collisions of last time next to the Bronze Soldier and the following rescue operation on the integration of russian people into Estonian society have raised a bunch of tiny problems. We should take care of them before we'll splash the amount of politically correct democracy and freedom of speech into media, as well as before we'll promise to vaccinate with last matters our strategic target group - the Russians. Namely - who are those Russians who live in Estonia and whom we would like to integrate? This question is asked by native russian speakers from them self. One who doesn't believe could perform it's own research on it.

From the really beginning it would be quite slippery way: as it is known from history it has been difficult for several centuries already, to find pure-blood russian. Thanks to historical dramas those who've been living on the originally russian ground got that much mixed with Tatar, Mongolians, Chinese that some researchers suppose that pure-blood russian does not exist. In best case a couple percents. So, actually in our integration-madness we are not searching for ethnic Russians.

Logically, three options are left to define those, who are to be integrated: Russians (russian citizens), russian-minded (independent on what could it mean), and russian-speaking people. We've nothing to do with first ones, their fraction is small enough. With second ones the situation is more difficult because the methods of finding them do not belong to the area of governmental organizations with their small budget. This way we arrive to the point of truth: we should integrate those Russians, who have Russian as their mother-tongue.

But the goal is more difficult as it could appear: do Russian-speaking people have a common culture and do they form the group with common interests? Based on long-lasting naive and perfunctory investigations one could arrive at a conclusion that so-called Russians is a group with a lot of identities, the same as a multi-headed dragon. BTW the identity changes rapidly and unpredictably. However some characteristic properties of the group could be defined. For example many of Russians who go abroad, east or west, answer the question about their nationality unambiguously: we are Estonian. Just because they feel them self to be. Other interesting and confusing property is defined within the different groups. It originates from the fact, that many russian native speakers are actually Ukrainian, White-russian, Georgian aso. They don't feel to be Russian, but most of them do not participate their culture societies. Further investigation brings us to the next subculture, which is generally connected with Russian only by the inscription in their passport or the Russian-like name.

Actually they are georgian who has Russian father or Armenian who has Jewish mother or Chechen who grandfather was Mordvinian. They are people, who feel them self Russian only in Estonia 'cause they have been defined this way by the majority, nevertheless they usually feel them self to be someone else. If one would add all the pure-blood representatives of different small folks who've arrived here during uneasy times plus those, who feel them self to be mixed-blood representatives of some small folk (up to one's choice but not Russian), only one group will remain. Author supposes, that this group is much smaller than previous and there belong people, who have Russian as mother-tongue but don't feel to be Estonian or of other small folk and who are brave enough to call them self Russian on both side of the border. But even they have problems with identity - going to Russia or following Russian mass-media starting from early 90's they get a clear message: you are not Russian any more, you are different, you are "estlander". And the biggest part of this group despite the Russian parents recognizes that Russia is not their home. They are Russian but not Russian of Russia. And they know that they are unwanted behind the border. BTW, we have own original Russians who live for ages next to Peipsi lake and on setu grounds. They are loyal and don't need to be integrated.

Sure there are several vulgar but used by both sides possibilities to define russians: for example Russian might be the holders of gray (alien's) passport. Or those, who came here after the beginning of soviet occupation. Or those, who crack sunflower seeds, whose who quarrel in public transport and spit on the ground. It's obvious, that such definitions are absolutely incorrect, for example among the gray pass holders there is a significant fraction of native Estonians, no one among those who arrived within last 50 years does not identify itself with the arrival date, so there's enough of rudeness also for native people.

When my nationalistic mother is telling, that all russians should be sent away and that we have a primitive conflict between estonians and russians, I'm thinking, whom exactly does she mean? Or when the government is speaking about integration it would be also reasonable, to distinguish different groups. Generalization in this situation could be a bad beginning, which will make a bad ending. Also Russia who has declared zero-tolerance policy for Chechen and other southern-looking nations has great problems with the discrimination of it's own citizens, independent on that frequently they don't have any southern blood at all. So it's impossible to assign the person completely based only on the language and the appearance.

If one speaks about integration in more narrow meaning as about forced estonization or about the obligation to speak and to write in Estonian, of course it makes no difference, who should be integrated and how do those people identify them self. Our experience based on 15 years long practice just recently have had demonstrated the bad ending of this approach. But if integration would be discussed in wider meaning, as a creation of a system of trustworthy relation between groups of different identity and education of loyal citizens, then it would be wise to understand, who is living next to us.

I share the opinion of Marianne Mikko that there's no "Putin's Russians" in Estonia, but here we have a great variety of folks with unclear identity and our goal is to help them to find this identity. Only after that we could try to integrate them. They could get to be our weapon against the propaganda coming from Russia. Actually, even before the known events I've been thinking that if the war between Russia and Estonia would start, about 50% of Russian-speaking people would protect Estonia, about 30% would try to escape from the choice and maximally 20% would join the side of Russia. Speaking with the same people after the saga of Bronze Soldier i should admit, that the part of supporters of Estonia has been decreased significantly due to seeded fear and uncertainty.

So, in my opinion the new wave of integration should start with the preparation of Estonian population. I suggest to spend up to 30% of the specified resources on the objective explanation of the history of our ethnic minorities to Estonians. The main goal would be to extinguish the fear and hostility of abstract Russia. Only this way we can transform our foreigners to get our allies and friends instead of seeing the grin of big bear. Other 30% could be spent on the familiarization of the own culture and identity within the minorities and the rest could be used for integration of Russians.

Even if we could feel, that as native folk we should have all the rights to keep our selfs as lords related to other cultures, who came here later, it would be better to bury this idea. France also could publish some cartoons about Muslims or handle broader the position on Islamic terrorism. But they don't do it, 'cause those people are their neighbors and their support is expected.


Marta Salazar said...

Welcome to the blogosphere!

Anonymous said...

Raul Kalev not just "went outside to protect his home". His home wasn't in danger. Also he is not such a brave person to go against hundreds of people. Raul Kalev is just a very curious man. He will never stay inside when something is happening outside. Simple as that.