The Kremlin recently announced that 313 Canadians had been sanctioned – blacklisted as enemies of the Russian government. Markus Hess and Marcus Kolga are part of a long list of Canadian cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, heads of organizations opposing Russian repressions and aggression, exposing Russian influence in the West, etc.
Markus Hess and Marcus Kolga have similar paths in this ongoing, righteous battle for truth and justice. Both are former presidents of the Estonian Central Council In Canada (EKN). Hess was the president of the Central and Eastern European Council in Canada (CEEC) prior to handing the reins over to Marcus Kolga, who presides now.
The reasons given by Russia for sanctioning the two were curt, somehow assuming Canadians probably know anyway: for Kolga, it was his work at the MacDonald-Laurier Institute; for Hess, his involvement with the Memorial for Victims of Communism in Ottawa.
Neither Hess or Kolga have any assets in Russia that can be seized. If Russia intended to fluster, annoy, caution, intimidate, threaten, punish or change the focus and determination of the two, they’ve sorely miscalculated.
Hess, well-known for his contribution as the founder and international chair of the ‘Black Ribbon Day’ movement fought a basic falsehood of Soviet-created history – that WWII was initiated by the Nazis and that it was the Soviet ‘liberation’ of Europe that ended the war. The ‘Black Ribbon’ idea stressed the consequences of the Soviet lie, the repressive domination of half of Europe and the impunity with which Moscow and its puppet regimes were continuing to brutally violate the most basic human rights. Some 56 cities world-wide commemorated Black Ribbon Day each August.
Kolga enlightened the Canadian public to the aggressiveness of disinformation and influence campaigns of autocratic regimes. Up until recent years this was seen as a marginal threat to democracies. He was central in helping media to focus on this insidious activity. All the major Canadian print media have published his numerous op-eds and he has spoken on all TV channels and national radio broadcasts. He was one of the main proponents of Canada’s ‘Magnitsky’ legislation sanctioning Kremlin oligarchs and human rights violators worldwide, thus helping to shake the complacency of typical Canadian politicians to the issue.
In 2008 Russia compiled a list of 15 blacklisted 15 Estonians including the president, prime minister, defence minister, foreign minister, justice minister, government ombudsman, speaker of parliament, some journalists, ambassadors and this writer, the only targeted Estonian not residing in Estonia.
The Russian news agency Tass stated that I was the Estonian Honorary Consul-General in Canada who claimed that the removal of the ‘Bronze Soldier (in 2007) was done “knowingly and with confidence” and that I was one of the “most active advocates of the re-location and desecration of the memorial”. I had also “propagated the idea of Soviet ‘occupation’ in the West” and “proposed the enforcement of harsh sanctions against Russia”. I absolutely rejected desecrating the memory of fallen soldiers but I didn’t deny the rest of their indictment. In fact, I was rather tickled by the recognition.
The most interesting part of being singled out was that the Nashi, a youth group aligned with Putin had compiled the list and proposed that we be declared personal on grata. This group wouldn’t have had the resources to be expert in the ‘who’s who’ of their enemies in Canada. Then, who else but…..?
Congratulations to Hess and Kolga. Bask in the Kremlin’s wrath. It makes us all proud of you.
The Editor, Estonian Life