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Estonia changes the approach to Russian

Saturday will be the first ever visit of the Estonian Prime Minister in Russia: St. Petersburg comes Jüri Ratas. And it comes at a time when the Baltic politicians try to totally boycott Russia. Ratas previously challenged the institution of "non-citizens" and stood up for the rights of Russian-speaking. Is Russophobian period of Estonian Life comes to an end?

The current Prime Minister of Estonia, Jüri Ratas can be considered one of the most prominent politicians of Baltic. Relatively young (of 38 years) people managed to make a spectacular career and rose to the highest level, the issue has long been a taboo for the local officialdom - the elimination of the shameful institution "non-citizens" and to respect the rights of Russian speakers.

However, his visit to Russia in its history - for all time of the bilateral relations, Estonian premieres (namely Prime in Estonia is the de facto head of state - a parliamentary republic) never visited the Russian Federation. Estonian oppositionoutraged and nowSaying, well, that did not attend, even if this goes on, because in the background of the current confrontation between Russia and the West Ratas visit simply out of place.

Indeed, the current mainstream of the Baltic is the rejection of any contact with the Russian Federation - in the style of "my legs will not be there." Another thing is that no official meetings during the visit Ratas not planned. It is timed to the centennial of Estonians demonstrations in Petrograd in favor of autonomy and is accompanied by a ritual event like the opening of a memorial plaque of thanks and worship under the Archbishop of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church.

So who is he - Jüri Ratas? Politician, revolutionary, designed to break the anti-Russian Estonian practice, or a cunning tactician, using the Russian "face-down"?

Instead of "rhinoceros"

Round education native of Tallinn Jüri Ratas (current Prime is a Master of Economics and Bachelor of Law) is highly promoted his career. In November 2005-27 of the age, he became mayor of Tallinn, and held this position until March 2007-th. Also Ratas twice appointed to the post of vice-mayor of the Estonian capital, for the first time - in 24 years.

At the same time, Ratas linked his destiny with such a specific political force as the Centrist Party. It was founded by Edgar Savisaar, one of the "fathers" of Estonian post-Soviet statehood, who received the nickname "rhinoceros" for his intransigence. Unlike many other politicians in the country, Savisaar has never been a nationalist and fairly liberal about the Russian population. He is still, going against the mainstream, he defends the need to normalize relations with Russia. That is why the Russian community of Estonia (by the way, in this country, non-citizens, unlike neighboring Latvia, are allowed to vote in municipal elections), for lack of the best options, in the mass it supported and supports precisely "centrists".

Savisaar, due to its charisma and rigidity, has long been considered an "inconvenient" person for the Estonian ruling elite, many attempts have been made to dislodge it from politics. In 2015, the "iron Edgar", who had just suffered a serious illness that had deprived him of his leg, was removed from the mayor in Tallinn in connection with the corruption charges against him. By that time, "centrists" had long been in opposition. They were transparently hinted that it was not even worth dreaming about places in the Cabinet until they got rid of the "rhino". Naturally, the situation could not satisfy many representatives of this strong and numerous party - Savisaar began to be perceived by an anchor pulling "centrists" to the bottom. As a substitute, he began to promote it was Ratas - also quite charismatic, much more young, and most importantly, did not provoke rejection of other political parties.

The first attempt to intercept the power Ratas with his support team has taken a few years ago, when the "centrists" passed the next elections of the head of the party. Then the young ambitious politician lost, but its position is not shaken. Moreover, Ratas entrusted the post of vice-speaker of the Riigikogu (Parliament). A new attempt to topple Savisaar was made at the congress at the end of the year 2015. "Rhinoceros" again resisted, but the victory was not easy to him - his then-rival Kadri Simson, who heads the parliamentary faction of "centrists", he was ahead by only 55 votes.

The events that razed Rathas to the heights of power, unfolded last fall. It began with the fact that the "centrists" finally got rid of Savisaar. To be precise, the "rhinoceros" himself refused to run for another re-election, because he understood that the degree of his influence on the party members fell sharply. By that time, colleagues had already openly called "Iron Edgar" a decommissioned player, a burden. "Edgar in the political sense is no one", said in September, a member of the board of "centrists" Mailis Reps, promising that soon the Centrist Party will become an influential political force, and will no longer be isolated.

In October, the then Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas (Reform Party) announced the conditions under which the Center Party would join the government.

Without United Russia

According to the requirements of Rõivas, in order to become "handshake" again, "centrists" should have eliminated Edgar Savisaar and MEP Yanu Toom (it is considered too "pro-Russian") to abandon the "deep-seated predilection for corruption" and take a sharply critical attitude towards Russia, following the example of the other Estonian parties. At the same time, the premier added that the current coalition is quite workable and will remain until the next parliamentary elections in 2019, but - an amazing blindness! - the coalition collapsed after a few weeks, and the place of Ryvas in the government was occupied by the "centrist" Yuri Ratas.

At the congress of the Centrist Party, Ratas received 654 votes, his rival Ian Toom in all 348. Just a few days later, the centrists, the nationalist Union of the Fatherland and Res Publica and the Social Democratic Party of Estonia announced the beginning of negotiations on the formation of a new coalition government. Parliamentary vote on the no-confidence vote Taavi Rõivas, who refused to resign voluntarily, gave 63 votes "for" against 28 against, there were no abstentions. The people welcomed this event with approval: the rating of the "baby prime minister" (Riyivas was the youngest prime minister of Estonia in its history) was extremely low. At the same time, the new government immediately hastened to reassure Western partners with assurances that they do not intend to change anything in foreign policy.

When Estonian President Kirsti Kaliulaid instructed to form a new composition of the government of Ratas, he in every way stressed that his cabinet would not be "pro-Russian." "The spread of such rumors is a low and petty act, this is a bitter discontent that casts a shadow over the whole country. I very much hope that the statements that harmed Estonia's reputation at the international level did not reach the foreign media due to local politicians. This would be a manifestation of extreme disrespect and disregard for their country and people, "- resented Ratas. During the hearings to the Riigikogu, he also stated that "Crimea was occupied by Russia", and the treaty that exists with the "centrists" with the party "United Russia" has long been frozen and does not matter. Subsequently, he repeatedly expressed support for Kiev, stressed the full loyalty to NATO and advocated the preservation of the sanctions regime.

Nevertheless, many steps "centrist" after they found themselves at the head of the government, look for Estonia, if not revolutionary, it is enough unexpected.

Vote for Russian

Fixed at the head of the Cabinet, Ratas raised the issue of non-citizens. "All the residents of the country are important for our party - regardless of whether they speak Russian or Estonian. I know very well that there is a problem concerning citizenship: many people in Estonia have so-called "gray passports". We consider the situation to be abnormal when citizens of the country do not have citizenship. One of the points of our program says that all people who have lived here for more than twenty-five years should receive an Estonian passport. But we all know that now the coalition includes three partners, and this is now impossible to achieve. This can be a specific goal in the next parliamentary elections(in 2019 year - LOOK). But now, with the new coalition, we do small steps. For example, in a family where the parents have different documents - the "gray passport" or license of another state - children can get an Estonian passport, "-He pledgedPrime.

There were also signs of progress in the persecution of the Russian language, albeit minimal. So, the Riigikogu passed legislative amendments in the third reading, which simplified the possibility of receiving Russian-language legal assistance: now the applications written in Russian no longer return, they are transferred by the court, and the transferor does not bear the transfer costs. In parallel, pharmacies became available information in Russian about drugs, the use of which does not require a specially written prescription. In addition, the coalition promised to relax on the issue of Russian schools.

You can consider it a trifle, but the progress is obvious: the new government albeit slowly, but "spins nut" in relation to the Russian-speaking. And even it does not matter what kind of motives prompted Ratas to such actions: the country is talking about the need for "social cohesion" in the face of a "hybrid of aggression" in Russia. Political analyst Maxim Reva told the newspaper VIEW, which is inclined to see in this the influence of Washington:

"For Americans, the nationalist rhetoric of the Baltic elites, shall we say, poorly understood. For them, it does not matter the nationality of the - most importantly, the effectiveness of an object and its degree of loyalty. And the Americans, entering troops in the region are fully aware of how the threat from internal nationalist policy in the Baltic States, and its detrimental impact on the safety and these countries, both NATO and the United States itself. "

Recently Ratas even started the page in the social network Facebookin Russian- for the head of the Estonian government until recently seemed unthinkable such an act, and in Latvia for such politiciansgenerally fine. However, the Russian-speaking Estonians themselves are advised not to have illusions about Ratas. "I consider him a moderate politician who tries to avoid harsh statements. All his performances are always cautious, weighed and thought out. On the one hand it is fine. But, on the other hand, expect him to revolutionary solutions in the field of restoration of the rights of the Russian community in Estonia yet, in my opinion, it makes no sense, "- said the newspaper LOOK, a member of the NGO" Russian Estonian School Council. "

But the opinion of political observer Alexander Nosovich, who believes that the cabinet of Uri Rathas is for "Russian-Estonian relations" is "a government of expectations that are expected to be deceived". He draws parallels between Ratas with another politician from the Baltic region, who for some reason is considered a "pro-Russian" - mayor of Riga and leader of the "Consent" party (she, like "centrists", is largely based on Russian voices and has been in opposition for many years ) By Neil Ushakov. "In Estonia, many years have been wondering what will happen if the" pro-Russian "Centrist Party joins the ruling coalition and the government. And the realists forecast was correct, which from the very beginning said that there would be nothing - because for the sake of joining the government, "centrists" would sacrifice all the points of their political program, because of which the Russian-speaking electorate voted for them. And it happened. The government has less nationalist frenzy, but the national policy of Estonia has remained unchanged, the citizenship policy has remained unchanged, foreign policy - unchanged. The port of Tallinn lost and lost cargo, dairy farms went bankrupt and so on. I'll venture to assume that in Latvia in the event of the arrival of the party "Consent" in the government, it will be the same, "Nosovich told VZGLYAD.

In fairness it should be noted that Ratas, of course, can not abolish the institution of "non-citizens" in Estonia the sole solution. And the mere fact that the intention to give citizenship "seropasportnikam" should be considered a step in the right direction. But on the warming of relations between Russia and Estonia at Ratas expect it would be naive: the current prime minister can not be called "anti-Russian", but "anti-Russian" it certainly is.

A source: LOOK

Author: Ilya Belkin

Tags: Estonia, Politics, Baltic States, Russia, Analytics