Marika Lillemets, senior editor of bi-monthly photo magazine Aja Pulses (Pulse of Time) Tallin and Priit Jarve, Director, Institute of Philosophy, Sociology, & Law, Estonian Academy of Sciences
Interviewer: Gwynne Dyer
MS notes: The Popular Front was formed in 1988 by people who were already in the elite of Estonia. It remains an elite organization. Many of them are sociologists and writers. Mariu Lauriston, the head of the dept of journalism, of the U. of Tartu, wrote the letter of 40 in 1980, signed by 40 known people and sent to various magazines, talking about the bad condition of culture and language in Estonia. They lost their jobs for doing this. The strikes are being led by people who are not workers. The SU did have a national policy to try to eliminate nationalities by getting them all to speak Russian. 50 nationalities have disappeared because of the effectiveness of this.
People should have a sense of home. Therefore Estonians have certain rights that others don’t have. These strikers are people who have not been here for more than 5 years and they are not interested in the problems of the republic. About 10% of the Popular Front are Russians, they have their own sections. This is really a conflict of ideologies and of how to do things, and not between nations.
He says that the countryside is all Estonian. The Russians are all in the cities. He asks if the Estonians have many Russian friends. She says not. Kids in school are getting along badly from the two communities, but there are no overt problems, people are not shooting each other.
People are collecting signatures in the town square for a referendum and the only people they will allow to sign are those whose grandparents lived there in 1940.
That must make the Russians feel terrible.
She says yes, it’s a big problem.
Both the woman and Priit Jarve make the point that people tend to think that if the Russians left, it would end all trade and communication, because it has been their experience that it hard to have anything to do with anyone across borders.That has been the case, but there is no reason why it has to be.