Eighty years ago on August 23 Stalin and Hitler signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, agreeing on who would get which part of Eastern Europe. The vestiges of the Pact keep Russia away from Europe and plays a role in distrust and antagonism to this day.
The countries thus subjugated by the Soviet Union saw the MRP as the main propellant in starting WWI. It made the USSR equally culpable with Nazi Germany as the war`s initiators. But Russia continues to insist that the Pact was strategically necessary as were the annexations of countries under the MRP`s “secret” protocols.
The West sees the Russian intransigence as one of the main inhibitors in normalization of relations with Moscow. It aptly illustrates how little Russia's thinking has changed from that of Stalin in spite of vehemently rejecting that notion. Yet an ever increasing justification of Stalin’s repressive regime is reflected by the Kremlin.
Juku Gold is a research assistant at Citizen Lab, and a 2019 visiting fellow at The Hague Program for Cyber Norms. His bachelor’s thesis (University of Toronto) investigated the 2007 cyberattacks against Estonia and their legacy. Juku is Estonian-Canadian.
How and why does Estonia have so much influence in building international cybersecurity norms?
If you are reading this article, or familiar with e-Estonia, it is likely that you know something about Estonia’s bold and successful digital innovation. You may be aware that—as is necessary for a society reliant on digital technology—Estonia is also very focused on cybersecurity. Yet this focus is not only on ensuring its own national cybersecurity at home. Instead, especially since 2007, Estonia has held a prominent role in leading international cybersecurity efforts – particularly those focused on establishing rules for behaviour in cyberspace.
Modern European populism is a predatory scheme that is rooted in the raw exploitation of inequality and the sentiments of individuals who feel disenfranchised.
Unfortunately, Canada is not immune. Indeed, we must be on guard for its toxic effects, including xenophobia, the subversion of social cohesion and the decay of the rule of law and corruption.
Whether by chance or by design, most European populist movements on both the far-left and right, tend to align with the Putin regime’s illiberal ideology, including intolerance toward immigrants, minorities and LGBTQ communities. They maintain a seething contempt for globalism and multinational institutions, such as the EU and NATO and the western liberal democratic order. In many cases, European populists have even received endorsements and financial support from the Kremlin.
Saatuse, kurjuse ja ka omaenda vigade tõttu tähistame kahte iseseisvuspäeva. Üks, 24. veebruar on meie reveranss esiisadele ja -emadele nende julguse, ettenägelikuse ja ohverduste eest Eesti riigi loomisel. See päästis meid õudustest, mis tabasid noid rahvaid, kel ei õnnestunud sada aastat tagasi oma riiki luua.
Teine, iseseisvuse taastamine 20. augustil väärib samavõrra imetlust ja tänu. Töö vabaduse nimel algas palju varem. 1987. aasta 23. augustil nõudsid tuhanded Hirvepargis vabadust ja ajaloolist õiglust. 1989. aasta 23. augustil seisid sajad tuhanded inimesed Eestimaal Balti ketis. Sellest sai vabadusetahte manifestatsioon, mis inspireerib tänini rahvaid üle ilma ja mis toob sellel reedel Hong Kongi tänavatele inimketi vabaduse ja demokraatia eest seisjatest.
The radically different interpretations of mile-stone occurrences in history determines the various levels of antagonism in Estonia-Russia relations at any one time.
It`s said that Tallinn-Moscow interactions were steadily mellowing up until 2007 when Estonia relocated a Soviet-era statue glorifying the Red Army, from the centre of Tallinn to a military cemetery. For years Estonians were practically unanimous in demanding that the ‘Bronze Soldier’ be removed.
The Estonian applause and the Russian condemnation that followed very aptly delineates the widely different conclusions that the two countries draw from WWII. The monumental losses suffered by Russia and the limitless heroism ascribed to the Soviet soldier make any negative comment or action about Russia’s role in the ‘great patriotic war for the fatherland’ a sacrilege.
In February 2013 Vladimir Putin directed historians to develop a history curriculum that would be a politically acceptable version “free from contradictions and ambiguities”. It would treat the events of Russia’s past that were vulnerable to negative commentary, and yet credible to opponents, from a pro-Russian perspective.
Thus, for instance, Russian history books created by 40 historians of Putin’s choosing, have covered Jossif Stalin’s regime downplaying the enormity of the murders, purges, outright genocide that hallmarked the period. (Stalin himself was an unabashed manipulator of the historical record, removing enemies from photos for example.)
It’s not possible to draw any causable relationship between newly customized history books and a change in Stalin’s approval ratings over five years. Still, one must note that in 2012 just six percent of respondents in a survey claimed to be unaware of Stalin’s repressions and terror. By 2017 as many as 13 to 25 percent said that the crimes were “politically justified” and fully 36 percent agreed that the accomplishments and aims of the period outweighed the number of victims, which some estimates place in the tens of millions.
Regimes that have a stranglehold on history should be paying a political price for this control. In Russia it seems to work the other in the opposite way.
In 2009, Dmitry Medvedev, president of Russia during a constitutionally required temporary interruption of Vladimir Putin`s hold on state power, appointed the Presidential Commission of the Russian Federation to Counter Attempts to Falsify History to the Detriment of Russia’s interests. It was specifically meant to oppose those “who would deny Soviet contribution to the victory of World War II”.
Historical accounts for many reasons cannot be totally factual. The record undergoes individual perception, understanding, information available etc. But a normal presentation of the story still uses all available sources and does not select based on ideological or political reasons.
The rewriting of Russian history began some ten years ago. In 'rehabilitating' the past the Kremlin has been insistent on adhering to the following 'facts':
• The Soviet Union and now Russia has been falsely accused on aggression.
• The Iron Curtain was a protection from the West for Soviet citizens. It still exists today because of anti-Russian sanctions.
• The Soviet Union did not force communism upon Eastern Europe.
• The Soviet Union was the most technically advanced country in the world.
• The media forced the West to create NATO and its later expansion.
Under the legislation, those who had worked or ‘officially’ collaborated with a foreign intelligence or security service and informed KAPO of this by the deadline of April 1, 1996 numbered 1153. (This list of names will be made public only by 2036.)
The others who didn’t comply with the law and whose names have been released in the government’s ‘Riigi Teataja’ total approximately 640. The actual number of agents, informants, collaborators of various degree is impossible to accurately establish.
It’s probable that even the top echelon of the KGB did not have completely reliable data on this. Some dossiers that have been studied indicate some KGB professionals had a tendency to exaggerate their prowess in recruitment Some targets designated to be co-opted were still in the recruitments process. Even some individuals described in archives by code names and thought to be collaborators were actually persons targeted for surveillance.
‘Lustration’ refers to the purge of government officials in previous, generally authoritarian governments. It’s meant to promote a transition to democracy or compliance with international human rights standards and has been applied in settings such as post-communist Eastern Europe.
Lustration as a formal, government-sanctioned process in Estonia has never been applied. The release of the names of individuals who were either KGB official operatives or who had co-operated with the agency has been a difficult and complicated process.
Short of a lustration program, Estonia did have a formal process for KGB-connected individuals to be identified. In February of 1995, legislation was passed whereby individuals who had worked for the intelligence, counter-intelligence or security services of the occupying regimes (Soviet as well a German) had to inform KAPO of such connection. Those known to have a KGB history and avoided informing KAPO would be named openly in a government bulletin, ‘Riigi teataja’ (equivalent of Canada’s Hansard).
Eesti Elu Nr. 26 - 3. juuli 2020 DIGILEHT
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