The position of ethnic minorities in the Baltic states has been the target of attention since these states regained their independence in 1991. Russian authorities keep insisting that Russian-speaking minorities are subject to discrimination or even “human rights abuses”, while the states in question have succesfully stabilized their democratic institutions and work hard to integrate the new minorities left over by the Soviet occupation.
I talked to some prominent representatives of the local ethnic minorities in Estonia about ethnic relations and the situation of minorities – two of them are born Estonians with non-Estonian ethnicity, and one is an immigrant academic and human rights activist. They are the Estonian-Jewish professor of art history at the Estonian Art Academy David Vseviov, the Estonian-Russian law student and democracy activist Jevgeni Kristafovic, and the Ukrainan professor of international law and founder of the Centre for Human Rights at Tallinn Technical University, Evhen Tsybulenko. All three scatter the prevailing myths about ethnic strife of Estonia, while exposing different approaches to integration policies. Their words open up a world that is much more complicated than the simplifying “discrimination” story spread by Russia’s representatives. That story is unveiled rather as a tool to achieve larger political goals – within Russia, in Estonia and internationally. You find the interviews above: David Vseviov, Jevgeni Krishtafovich and Evhen Tsybulenko. The Finnish versions of the interviews, published in Uusi Suomi, can be found here (DV), here (JK) and here (ET).