Baltic Bullies: Fear or Smear?

All summer long we have been hearing rumblings from the East about imbalanced portrayals of the Russian government at the hands of the Baltic states and unfair treatment of Russian minorities. A recent mission prayer calendar issued by my own denomination even indicated that mistreatment of Russian minorities in the Baltics may well amount to violations of human rights.

I must say that I’ve been fairly incredulous about these claims. I have indeed witnessed social tensions between Russians and Estonians, but these tensions have always varied in degree according to circumstances and have never amounted to “human rights violations”.

I have to admit though that I may have adopted an interpretive lens which is overly sympathetic to Estonian interests or have simply not been in the right places to observe these problems myself. If in fact these very serious accusations are correct, then I would most certainly agree that they must be addressed promptly and thoroughly and to the satisfaction of the international community.

In the interest of a fair assessment of news headlines, I want to also hold up the possibility that the reports I have been hearing are themselves politicized exaggerations aimed at discrediting three small but quickly growing independent states whose fairly recent escape from Soviet occupation contributed to the eventual collapse of that system. This would not seem too wild a possibility given the stream of nationalist rhetoric which has been emanating with increasing frequency and force from Moscow of late.

Given the seriousness of the situation – no matter which way the evidence leads – I want to advocate a cautious, diligent and open minded investigation of these reports. In the meantime, I will dig a bit deeper into the issue and see what I can find from resources on the net to give you the facts along with my own interpretation of their importance.

 

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