From the CIAO Atlas Map of Europe 

email icon Email this citation


Estonia: Nation Building And Integration. Political And Legal Aspects. 1

Aleksei Semjonov

August 1999

Copenhagen Peace Research Institute


1 Civic vs. Ethnic models; integration and participation.

The process of nation building is based on an explicit, or implicit, conception and understanding of the phenomenon. One of the basic and most important predicaments in this development, particularly for new or re-established states, is, without doubt, the way of power legitimisation and principle of belonging. Two contradictory approaches dominate in countries’ interior discourses, as well as in academic analysis. In a broad sense, they are called inclusive and exclusive discourses. Exclusion can take place on a number of different grounds: social or class (in Marxist terms); religious; racial and so on. But, empirically, the recent development of post-communist societies represents the most ‘popular’ case of exclusion, i.e. on ethnic and/or linguistic grounds. These two competitive approaches are usually described as civic and ethnic models of nation building.

The civic model is based on the experience of successful democracies, which

are bound by common standards of decency, including the principle of inclusiveness. The interests of all constituent parts of the polity must be balanced and each must enjoy protection under the law. The identity and interests of all groups must be respected. According to this view, when the principle of inclusiveness is ignored, and when the willingness to create a common polity is absent, a state exposes itself to a type of domineering that can culminate in the persecution of a minority by the majority. Therefore, the civic model of nation building implies the establishment of political institutions that are impartial and function adequately on the territory of the state; the provision of equal access to these institutions; and the cultivation of a sense of community among the residents. ‘The civic model is based on active participation through political institutions’.

The ethnic model is based on the idea of a ‘nation state’, where the term ‘nation’ represents a synonym for ‘ethnicity’. Therefore, a state is viewed as primarily belonging to the dominant, usually majority, ethnic group. This group seeks to legitimate the exercise of power by using conceptions like ‘historical’, ‘constituent’, or ‘state-building’ nation. Holm-Hansen remarks that ‘titular citizens in ethnic states ‘hold membership’ automatically through their ethnic affiliation, whereas citizens from non-titular groups, more or less explicitly, are ‘members’ of a second rank’. In some cases, they are even not granted formal citizenship and have to ‘deserve’ it. For representatives of the titular nationality, by contrast, membership in the polity is given by birth, i.e. through roots and heritage. In other words, it is based on a principle of passive belonging. The result is that persons not belonging to the titular group are alienated from membership. Vojin Dimitrijevic shares this observation:

Members of other ethnic groups are in most cases formally recognised, declared equal and protected, but essentially treated as an anomaly, or tolerated as historic ‘guests’. […] the political ‘message’, explicitly or implicitly reflected in the constitution and various laws, is that they cannot claim to influence the vital affairs of the state, it being the achievement of historical aspirations of the one (ethnic) nation and the most important means for the protection of its fundamental interests, such as survival, independence, culture etc. 2

The conception of ‘participation’ represents another important element in public and political discourse in terms of nation building and societal integration. This is particularly pertinent for Estonia, where the right to membership for non-titular groups is not fully formally recognised. The question becomes, should the integration process be based on equal legal status for the minority group, or on the contrary should citizenship status be a result of integration, that is, be a reward following the process of integration? In the first case one can speak of active participation by the minority group in the process, while in the later case the minority group and its members have to fulfil some preliminary conditions defined by others (i.e. the majority group, or the state) in order to achieve opportunities for effective participation in public life. In other words, the Estonian dilemma, or predicament, might be put in the following way: either "integration through participation"; or "integration for participation".

The "integration through participation" approach is based on the assumption that minority groups are mature enough to take part in the process consciously. They must share objectives and goals of the process as well as have their own rights and duties. Moreover, it presumes that the other side, i.e. the majority group, also has duties, not only rights. Integration, then, means a process of co-operation between individuals and groups and it could therefore be described in terms of human rights, minority rights and group accommodation.

The "integration for participation" approach presumes that some people are not mature enough to be full-fledged members of society. They must be governed, be taught, they have to pass certain procedures, which control for their maturity. They must periodically prove that they are mature enough, or loyal enough, or literate enough to obtain permission for participation in the public life. Their participation in public life will depend on whether it conforms with the interests of the majority group, who create the rules and conditions for the test procedures. Sometimes it is a factor of generosity, even simple mercy, or gestures of ‘good will’.

Both of these two approaches, generally speaking, can be considered democratic The distinction between them lies in the different understanding of the concept. The civic approach is based on the modern conception of ‘participatory democracy’: the people who are ruled have to agree to the rules that are applied to them. It presupposes also active participation from individuals. The ethnic (or ‘maturity’) approach recalls the archaic principles of democracy, when only men, landowners, literati and taxpayers were considered to be mature enough to be included in the process of decision-making.

A similar view of the Estonian situation is expressed by Graham Smith, who identifies a ‘civic-territorial’ project of nation building in contrast to ‘ethnic-primordialist’ one. He also cites an additional element of the ethnic model — the idea of homeland, which was ‘effectively appropriated by nationalist leaders as a powerful resource by which to claim a privileged link between the nation, homeland and sovereignty.’ According to Smith, Estonia (together with Latvia) might be considered as a polity that falls under the definition of so-called ethnic democracy. ’This type of power structure is characterised by the following: 1) the institutionalised hegemony of the core ethnic group and a delimiting of the scope of political and other rights for minorities; 2) certain (but not all) civil and political rights are enjoyed universally; and 3) certain collective rights are supported, but do not reach the level of consociational agreement.

Whether Estonia fully falls under this definition, and whether such a model of state building was chosen purposely, are the topics for further consideration. Here I wish only to point to the fact that the given difference in approaches is behind both the domestic political decisions and laws that have been adopted by the Estonian authorities, as well as the repertoire of the international standards and mechanisms to follow.


2 Political and public discourse


2.1 Ideological directions before independence

We have to keep in mind that the history of nation building in Estonia is rather young. Exactly ten years ago, in 1988, i.e. in the third year of political renewal in the Soviet Union called perestroika,three important events happened, which provided an impetus for further development. The joint plenum of Estonia’s creative unions was held on April 1-2, where several ideological directions were first expressed. These included protection for Estonian culture and language; the re-institution of national symbols; and the movement toward independence. In September a new leadership of the Communist Party of Estonia (CPE) took over at the XI Party plenum, which went on to accept a majority of the demands presented by the creative unions. This provided these demands with a kind of official status. Finally, on October 2, the Estonian Popular Front (PF) was founded at the first-ever People’s Congress, and the formation of the first nation-liberation movement in the Soviet Union was complete.

The ideology of this movement, particularly at the first stage, was based on an anti-totalitarian vision of democratic society that would form a humanistic, open and pluralistic societal structure. The aim was to achieve a gradual extension of Estonia’s sovereignty based on the democratic resources, which policies of perestroika had generated. The CPE leaders believed that it could be achieved within renewed and democratising Soviet system (a late reflection of ‘socialism with a human face’), while the PF viewed its end goal and that of Estonia as an independent and Western-type state after a realistic period of transition. The PF election platform in 1990 included all the main issues that were formulated by the plenum of creative unions with two important supplements to the agenda: the establishment of Estonian as the state language and control over the ethno-demographic balance in the republic through control over Soviet immigration. Given these two conditions, Klara Hallik is quite right to conclude that from the very beginning the Estonia’s movement for political renewal was clearly ethno-political in nature. Still, the PF was a movement, which considered Estonia as one part of great entity (USSR), and the policies it called for were nonetheless ways to protect the Estonian ethnic minority inside this larger entity as it was in a rather unfavourable demographic situation.

A year later (1989) more radical national groups appeared on the political stage. These were the Estonian National Independence Party (formed by former dissidents-nationalists), and two more broad movements — the Estonian Citizens Committees and the Congress of Estonia. These groups categorically termed Soviet rule as an ‘occupation regime’; they denied any legacy of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic as a part of the Soviet Union; and they insisted on the restoration of Estonian statehood exactly as it had existed before 1940. For these movements, what was most important for the nation building perspective was that the nation was valued above all else, and the restoration of independence was viewed, theoretically, in the form of regaining pre-war nation-statehood in a literal sense, including the body of laws and demographic composition of that period. Thus, this ideology was not so much anti-totalitarian in its foundations as anti-Russian. Remarkably, the leaders of the Congress of Estonia always used the terms ‘Soviet’ and ‘Russian’ as synonyms, and usually preferred the second version. Such a philistine mixture was quite ordinary, but it became a cornerstone for the policy of these groups.

The second important aspect of restorationist ideology was a preoccupation with the citizenship issue. Not accidentally, one of the most influential groups was called the Estonian Citizens Committees (Eesti Kodanike Komiteed, in Estonian, or Komitet Grazhdan Estonii, in Russian). Literature in English often misses this very important and trend-setting nuance that explains a lot of the future development.

During the period between 1988 and 1991 there were, thus, three groups claiming to express the national liberation interests of the Estonian people: the Popular Front, the Estonian Communist Party (at least, its powerful nationalist wing), and the Congress of Estonia. There was a definite rivalry between these three for the role of main representative of the nation. The CPE was the first to lose, when it lost the 1990 Supreme Council elections. The Popular Front won those elections and formed the government, which existed until the beginning of 1992. The PF and the Congress of Estonia became breeding grounds for the political parties that were formed later. The civic vs. ethnic difference in the ideology of these parties could be seen already then.

During the latter stage of the perestroika Russian liberal intellectuals joined forces with the Estonian nationalists and intellectuals in the Popular Front movement. Their common will to destroy Soviet totalitarian rule helped to unify the democratic and patriotic elements in the Popular front. Once the collapse of the Soviet Union became evident, however, the real competing agendas quickly came into conflict. A majority of the Popular Front’s leaders gradually came to be motivated more by the idea of national revival through the nation-state project, while the Russian-speaking intellectuals remained committed to the democratic aspect of the struggle and the civic society project.

This divergence in approach became deeper and deeper and, accordingly, the participation of the Russian democrats in the PF movement became less active and visible. At the same time, activity began to grow among various groups in the Russian-speaking population who opposed the idea of Estonia’s independence. Their main approach was to use anti-nationalist (so-called internationalist) slogans and socialist phraseology. These groups were openly supported (if not directly agitated and organised) by the central Soviet authorities.

Unfortunately, this situation lies behind the widespread misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the Russian community’s real attitudes and behaviour during the early 1990s. On the contrary, there is a lasting and commonly shared myth about the Russians’ natural ‘disloyalty’ toward Estonia’s state independence. The architects of the ethnic project obviously need to use the notion as a justification for their exclusive policy. Unfortunately, even some of the most serious authors, like David Laitin, uncritically follow them in this regard, e.g. ‘[...] nearly all Russian-speakers considered the idea of an Estonian or a Latvian nation state to be anathema...’ A more close look at the development of politics during this period would show that the reality never was (nor is) so simple.

Some observers insist, for example, that while ‘only’ about an ‘estimated’ 25% of the non-Estonian population voted for independence during a national referendum held in March 1991, this meant that all others, i.e. 75%, opposed independence by abstaining from voting. ’ Such an allegation is obviously incorrect, both statistically and factually. People might not have participated in the voting for a variety of reasons, and ascribing to all of these people a hostile attitude towards independence represents a groundless statistical manipulation and misrepresentation of the facts. In addition to the 25% that voted for immediate independence, more than one-third of Russians did not reject the idea entirely, but supported different forms of gradual independence for Estonia during some period of transition, as Silver and Titma have shown. ’ Similar results have been obtained by the German social scientist Hans-Dieter Klingemann in the pre-independence study conducted from June to August 1990 in three Baltic republics.

Table 1 . Attitudes among Different Nationalities in the Baltics toward a Future Political Relationship with the USSR: July-August 1990 (percentage)

Question: "What do you wish the future of your republic to be?"












An independent state outside of the USSR (independence option)







An independent state in the frame of the USSR (confederation option)







An independent republic in the frame of a Federation of the USSR (status quo option)







Other Answers







Don’t Know







Number of Interviews







Source: Hans-Dieter Klingemann and Wolfgang G. Gibowski, "Gesellschaft und Politik im Baltikum" (unpublished manuscript supplied to the authors). 3

Data from Estonia has showed, that in addition to 15% non-Estonians who favoured the independence option, there were additionally, 35% of those who preferred confederation option, that is An independent Republic (my italics) in the frame of the USSR, which can make treaties with other Republics". In the political context of 1990 such preference, no doubts, presented a generally positive attitude toward independence. Together these two groups formed 50% of the Russians, which is more than the share of supporters of the status quo — 42%.

Indeed, the dynamic of the process over time looks even more impressive. We have to bear in mind that the idea of Estonian state independence, openly expressed for the first time in 1988, was intimate and understandable for all Estonians, but was rather new for almost all Russians. And yet, the share of those who supported the idea increased steadily year by year.


Table . Non-Estonians’ Support for State Independence (Mainor — EMOR public opinion polls, percentages)

April 1989

September 1989

February 1990

May 1990

June 1990






Source: Semjonov and Barabaner 1994, 118.

Moreover, a public opinion poll conducted by the same EMOR firm on September 1991 showed that 55% of non-Estonians supported the proclamation of independence of Estonia during the days of the attempted August putsch. ’ Any unprejudiced observer would agree that this rise in support for independence from 5% to 55% in less than 3 years clearly represents a revolutionary change in public consciousness and was an unambiguous trend.

The really negative attitude toward Estonian independence came from certain political organisations who claimed to speak for the Russian population, but in reality they did not. These were the Intermovement the United Council of Labour Collectives (Russian acronym OSTK), and the pro-Moscow wing of the Communist Party of Estonia (CPE-USSR). These groups never represented any kind of ‘silent majority’ of Russian-speakers. Graham Smith correctly mentions:

Despite the stereotyping of the Russian settlers as an oppositional force, the Interfront organizations were never mass movements and their membership was largely confined to members of the Party apparat and plant managers.

The analysis of the electorate’s voting behaviour during the last free elections, where all residents of Estonia could participate, supports this observation. This was the election of the Supreme Council in 1990. Although this was the year of the highest public activity and popularity for the Intermovement, the Russian population’s support for candidates from different blocs was the following:

Altogether, the candidates representing ‘anti-Estonian’ movements and parties got 28,2% of the non-Estonian votes. Russian candidates running in ‘pro-Estonian’ political forces (the Popular Front, the pro-independence wing of CPE and others), as well as independent ‘pragmatic’ candidates in the Northeast received 20,3%. Approximately the same number voted for Estonian politicians. Therefore, even in 1990 the support for ‘pro-Estonian’ or neutral political forces among the Russian population was higher than that for the ‘pro-imperial’ movements. 4

These data suggest that Russians in Estonia did not have a uniform positive view toward the country’s independence, and their attitudes varied to a much greater degree than the almost unanimous stance of the Estonians. But it is obviously incorrect to present the picture in a simplified black-and-white manner. In this respect, Silver and Titma’s conclusion seems well grounded:

Nonetheless, the picture that emerged was clearly not one of bipolar orientations — with a clear majority of the Estonians favoring independence and a clear majority of the Russians opposing it. 5

This is not surprisingly, since both the Popular Front and the Estonian Congress definitely tried to avoid conflicts back then with local non-Estonians, and this desire, though it did not make these non-Estonians full allies in the struggle, ensured at least a ‘silent loyalty’ from a majority of them. Even the more nationalist and radical wings promised non-Estonians equal rights and the protection of ethnic interests. 6

The situation changed dramatically after the 1991 putsch and the unexpectedly quick dissolution of the Soviet Union. The local Russian-speaking population actually remained unmoved by the event, in obvious contrast to the situation in neighbouring Latvia and Lithuania. There was no ‘Estonian Alfreds Rubiks’, nor attempts to form a pro-putsch leadership. (The rather artificially created ‘Shepelevich case’ could not be taken seriously.) 7 Nor was it a situation of simple passivity, for the commander of the Soviet garrison in Tallinn, Counter-admiral Belov, for instance, refused to collaborate with the putsch leaders and persuaded the Pskov tank division, which had arrived in Tallinn, to refrain from any action. Moreover, the commander of the Tartu garrison, General Dudaiev, maintained a similar position. Even the leaders of the pro-Moscow organisations (the Intermovement and the OSTK) decided at a special meeting to avoid direct interference, albeit after heated debates.

This attitude was quite understandable. The fate of the putsch was sealed in Moscow, not in Tallinn, because of resolute position of President Jeltsin and Russian Supreme Council; their stance was supported by mass manifestations in Moscow. Therefore, for local Russians any decision to support the putsch meant a decision to confront not the Estonian, but the Russian people. The proclamation of Estonian state independence, also, was perceived as part of the whole crash of the totalitarian regime. This quick development, perhaps, was not very pleasant for many non-Estonians, but it was an inescapable reality to be reconciled with.

To the Estonians the whole situation looked completely different. The decision to proclaim independence came when the events in Moscow were still unclear. As a result, the Estonian political leaders, in order to achieve a maximum consolidation of pro-independent forces, decided to make a joint proclamation of independence by the Estonian Supreme Council and the Congress of Estonia. This decision had far-reaching consequences. First, Estonian politicians thus distanced themselves from the Soviet Union, which was natural, but in the process they also distanced themselves from their former allies, the Russian democrats. This second consequence was much more important. The political balance now changed drastically: the Popular Front government had to share power with both the Supreme Council and the strong opposition faction coming from the Congress of Estonia, with the Congress itself acting as a parallel power. Through this the latter got a chance to enforce its own view on the subsequent process of nation- and state-building, i.e. it pushed the ethnic project, and it fully used this chance. As Klara Hallik has written:

In August 1991 the balance of political forces was such that it pushed Estonia’s development in the direction of restorationist state-building. […] This decision… thus became the most important cornerstone for Estonia’s new minority policy. […] the citizenship issue became the hallmark of a generally selective and exclusionist ethnic policy, which was apparent in the government’s legislation. 8


2.2 Radicalisation of political rhetoric

Since August 1991 the rhetoric and general approach toward inter-ethnic issues has changed gradually but radically. The dominant conceptualisation has changed from descriptive neutral terms, such as ‘non-Estonians’, ‘migrants’, ‘other-language population’, to different kinds of negative connotations: ‘illegal immigrants’, ‘aliens’, ‘colonisers’ or ‘invaders’. According to the principle of restitution, the problem itself has been transformed: from the need to regulate inter-ethnic relations in a basically multiethnic society, to the necessity of de-colonisation, re-socialisation, or ‘voluntary re-emigration’. As Maaris Raudsepp writes, ‘Formerly legitimate (although often disliked) and fully valued members of the society have been transformed in a social sense into illegitimate and inferior state subjects.’ 9

The transformation was so quick that some Estonian politicians changed their views in an opposite direction literally within a few days. Peet Kask, who was a member of the Supreme Council himself, noted several examples by quoting the debates in the Supreme Council:

Johannes Kass: ‘I think that they [people born in Estonia] have the full moral right to acquire citizenship by [simple] declaration’. (12 September 1991)

‘In our liberality we have reach a state of indulgence which is called ‘democracy’ here; but I would call it political prostitution’. (14 October 1991) 10

Indeed, members of different factions sometimes seemed to compete among themselves in using strong and uncompromising rhetoric:

Kaido Kama: ‘He who doesn’t speak the language, is out of reach of Estonian culture and lives outside its society’.
Andres Tarand: ‘It is your duty to realize that you didn’t appear in Estonia…just by accident or as virgin lambs over the past fifty years’.
Kalju Poldvere: ‘By means of the present law we have to create a situation where the colonists feel the earth shaking beneath their feet’. 11

These moods set the tone for further public discourse in the mass media for a long time. The Russians were perceived as an alien group for whom the Estonian state (and Estonian society) did not bear any responsibility. Maaris Raudsepp has selected and presented a rather impressive collection of statements, expressing the clear ethnic-primordialist way of thinking existing in Estonian rhetoric from that time.

‘In Estonia the Estonian order operates, which includes also such human rights that everybody has the right to his own home and native land. To each his own. We should not capitulate to international socialist human rights ideology’. (Postimees 24 February, 1992)

‘The territory of Estonia is the Estonians’ possession, the Estonians are only and legitimate proprietors of this land’. (Estoniya 1 December, 1993)

‘If a person is not a citizen by birth, he must earn citizenship. Citizenship is a

privilege’. (Päevaleht 1 June, 1994) 12

Raudsepp draws an additionally sad conclusion based on her quantitative and qualitative analysis of publications dealing with inter-ethnic relations during 1991-1995:

During recent years a normalisation of ethnocentrism has occurred in the Estonian media. Russophones are depicted as natural bearers of a threat to the Estonians, irrespective of their actual deeds or the objective data of opinion polls. The Estonians are treated in this context as innocent victims of history. Thus every kind of hostile expression toward Russians is justified, and all the Russians are supposed to bear collective responsibility for 50 years of occupation. From this logically followed ideas of historical revenge: appeals for equal opportunities for all people irrespective of their ethnic origin are confronted with the notion that the 50-year-long oppression needs to be compensated. 13

In these circumstances, the more liberal activists from the Popular Front gradually, though quickly, found themselves isolated and pushed out from the political stage. A forcing of hysteria has been the main tool for the national radicals in suppressing the arguments of the other side. ‘The slogan ‘Death to Savisaar’s men!’ has been displaced repeatedly in front of the Parliament building.’ 14 (Edgar Savisaar was the PF’s Prime Minister in 1990-1992. His government, which brought Estonia to independence, fell in February 1992.) Within the Parliament threatening speeches continued: ‘Internal enemies’ are those who attempt to help the external enemy… And helping colonists here in Estonia is one of their activities. (Kalju Põldvere)’ 15

The outcome all this was rather predictable and, in a way, natural. After the restoration of independence, ethnic nationalism prevailed even among presumably moderate political forces formed on the basis of the Popular Front movement, such as the Social Democratic Party and (to a lesser degree) the Centre Party. Nowadays, moderates and liberals prefer to keep silent when the minority problem, or ‘Russian question’, comes to the fore, as Peet Kask has noted. 16

In an analysis of parties’ programmes in terms of their ethnic policy during the 1992 and 1995 parliamentary elections, Klara Hallik came to a similar conclusion. She examined several parameters, such as general objectives in ethnic policy; attitudes toward citizenship policy; position on re-emigration; respect for minority ethno-cultural rights; etc. Certainly, there are differences between those parties which grown out of the Popular Front and those based on the Congress of Estonia–the latter are more exclusive in their approaches and less willing to seek compromise. But the essential characteristic elements in the stances of all the Estonian-based parties were, according to Hallik, the same.

  1. There is a strong ethnic self-defence orientation among all Estonian parties, where Estonia’s Russians are still seen as the main existential threat to the Estonian people.
  2. All Estonian-based parties are unanimous in believing there is a need to encourage non-Estonian re-emigration.
  3. With only a few minor differences, all of the Estonian-based parties view the nation-state as an ethnically-based state. Therefore, none of their platforms has any plans to organise a political dialogue with the non-Estonians for the purpose of discussing state structure, participation in political power, or possible consociational agreements.
  4. Finally, there is a continued high regard for the learning and acquisition of Estonian language among non-Estonians as the main channel for integration into Estonian society and the Estonian state. 17

The strategy is to build trust only among some part, a so-called ‘loyal’ part, of non-Estonians. The conception of loyalty is, definitely, the most popular. According to this view all inhabitants are divided into two categories. Ethnic Estonians are ‘loyal by birth’, or ‘by inheritance’. It relates, incidentally, to all Estonians, including those who were born far away from the country and express no wish to live there. Meanwhile, non-Estonians, and Russians especially, are destined to be ‘born in disloyalty’. They perpetually have to pass a process of initiation to be admitted into Estonian society by demonstrating various ‘signs of loyalty’ and recognised certificates of their maturity. These signs might be Estonian language ability (preferably determined by a language exam); or an unquestionable readiness to follow numerous procedures of ‘legalisation’ (for non-citizens); or to show themselves to be ‘Estonian-minded’ and demonstrate an ‘Estonian mindset’. The latter term is the recognised favourite in the inter-ethnic discourse, despite its vagueness (or, perhaps, precisely because of that). Indeed, one acknowledged liberal among Estonian ethno-democrats, Rein Taagepera, considers the conception a cornerstone for the integration of ‘aliens’ into Estonian society. 18

Undoubtedly, different authors do not really understand this term in the same way and treat it in accordance with their own convictions. In sociological surveys, for example, a hostile attitude toward Russia is often used as the indication of an ‘Estonian mindset’. 19

Another significant sign of loyalty is an uncritical acceptance of all political decisions and developments in Estonia: only natural-born citizens can criticise. Dissident views from others are immediately labelled as ‘blackening Estonia’ and are, naturally, perceived as disloyal.

Of course, such views are far from a civic model of politics. But they are in line with the widespread worldview of post-communist ethnonationalism. In a much more simple-minded manner than the sophisticated professor Rein Taagepera, the Serbian military field commander Sinisa Vicinic exemplified this view with a crude soldier’s frankness: ‘Serbia shall not be the state of equal citizens, but the state of Serbs and loyal citizens’. 20

Klara Hallik also finds:

As a result, one can define the current ideology of Estonia’s political parties as one of ethno-nationalism, in which the main tasks for the future — in what should be done to stabilize such a nation-state society as well as provide for its social security — have only marginally begun to be understood. 21


3 Ethnicity and legislation


3.1 Law on Citizenship

As is widely known, political forces in Estonia (as in Latvia) have chosen the so-called "restorationist" model after regaining independence in 1991. It meant, according to the Resolution on National Independence adopted on 20 August 1991, ‘the continuity of the Republic of Estonia as a subject of international law’. 22 But the principle of continuity, it should be noticed, has been implemented in rather peculiar manner. The proposal of restoration of pre-war Constitution was rejected, as well as practically all other legal acts adopted before 1940. This decisions was in itself reasonable and understandable, because ‘restitutio ad integrum after more than fifty years of being a part of another state is often more a legal fiction than a reality, and attempts to put this reality into the Procrustean bed of legal fictions are fraught with grave problems’. 23 One among few exceptions was the Law on Citizenship from 1938, which determined the body of citizens and the rules for obtaining the right to a citizenship. Thus at least one legal fiction was served as ‘the Procrustean bed’ for the reality. Moreover, the Resolution on Application of the Law on Citizenship from 1938 contained a number of amendments of the original text of the law that abolished its most liberal provisions. 24

This meant Estonian legislators decided to reject the inclusive and broad-scale granting of citizenship to all permanent residents of the country. The ‘zero-option’ became ‘anathema’ in political discourse and by now even the most liberal politicians confess that defending such an approach would mean for them ‘political suicide’. This rigid and uncompromising stance looks quite strange and suspicious in itself for a country, which likes to stress its democratic and liberal developments. One can not help but suspect that the reasons for this decision were not entirely and purely legal.

This suspicion is confirmed by the observations made by Asbjorn Eide who visited Estonia several times in 1989-1992. He mentioned that in the beginning

a broad coalition existed which combined the demand for independence with the commitment to the ‘zero option’… In 1990 a committee was established by the Estonian Supreme Council (parliament) to determine the criteria for citizenship. It started with the premise that no new law should be retroactive in nature. In a document entitled ‘International human rights and Estonia’ and prepared for a human rights conference, sponsored by the new Estonian government and held in Tallinn on February 11-13, 1991, it is stated that ‘from the point of view of human rights any attempt to restrict citizenship due to ethnic origin are and will remain totally unacceptable. 25

Such an attitude also prevailed in January 1991. Members of a mission, which visited Estonia on behalf of the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, met claims by the Intermovement groups

[...] that the Russians are subject for discrimination. We were told by a broad spectrum of the pro-independence representatives, however, that such discrimination was not taking place and would not be accepted in the future; that all inhabitants habitually residing in the territory, with the obvious exception of members of armed forces... would all be given the option of initial citizenship. We were also told that those who argued for a limited, primarily ethnic basis for citizenship by turning the clock back to 1940, were in small minority and would not be able to determine the political outcome in their favour. 26

But only one year later, in February 1992, Eide ‘had unfortunately to conclude that the attitude by the majority has changed considerably. [...] The emerging conflict relates to those who have arrived during the last half century...; [...] an overwhelming majority of persons of Slavic origin do have an uncertain future in light of the approaches to the citizenship issue.’ 27

The unfortunate story of the ‘Treaty on the Bases of Inter-State Relations between the RSFSR and the Republic of Estonia’ should be mentioned here. The agreement with Estonia (and with Latvia) was signed in Tallinn on 12 January 1991, that is, exactly at the most dangerous moment for the Baltic states when the Soviet troops were storming the television tower in Vilnius and the Interior Ministry headquarters in Riga. By signing these treaties President Yeltsin demonstrated the solidarity of Russia with the Baltic states against the repressive policy of Soviet authorities. The vital importance of the Treaty for the Baltic side was indicated by the fact that the Estonian Supreme Council had ratified the agreement almost immediately, on 15 January 1991. 28 This step, indeed, significantly influenced the outcomes of events, and the Soviet military refrained from similar action in Tallinn.

The Treaty includes reciprocal commitments to the prevention of discrimination and protection of minorities. Article 3 stipulates that both sides would give all inhabitants on their respective territory the option to become citizen of the state in which they were residents ‘in accordance with his/her free expression of will’. The details of the procedure were to be regulated in domestic legislation, and in accordance with additional agreement to be concluded later.

This latter stipulation was never realised, and Estonian leaders began ignoring the Treaty itself immediately after the international recognition of Estonian independence in September 1991. They claimed that the agreement had been extorted from them under pressure, and thus its binding character is negligible. This argument, observes Paul Kolstoe, ‘obviously lets the innocent suffer for the guilty (the pressure was, of course, put on the Balts by the Soviet, not the Russian leadership).’ 29 The legal arguments for ignoring the Treaty are also dubious, as Eide notes.

Apparently the dominant Estonian and Latvian view is that the clause providing for more specific regulations in municipal law of the option of citizenship, gives these countries an almost free hand to determine the requirements of citizenship. The Russian view, which seems to be much better founded in rules of interpretation of treaties, is that domestic laws cannot modify the substance of the treaty commitment but only regulate minor issues of procedure. It would appear that the trend which is now taken concerning citizenship requirements in the two countries, is in violation of these treaty commitments. 30

Unfortunately, Eide remains almost alone in this regard because the Russian-Estonian treaty (and the Russian-Latvian one) is regularly overlooked in the Western debates also. Kolstoe notes that ‘in hardly any of the human rights reports written by Western experts commissions have the terms of these agreements ever been discussed.’ 31 The significant precedent was thereby created, and Estonian leaders have learned that, in some cases, they could avoid obligations stemming from international treaties.

Thus, according to the declared principle of legal restoration of the Estonian Republic only pre-1940 Estonian citizens and their descendants were recognised as having the automatic right to citizenship. All other permanent residents could not enjoy this right and hence became stateless. Thus the problem of mass statelessness on the territory of Estonia emerged. The scale of the problem can be illustrated through the comparison of voting polls in two referendums, just before and just after independence. At the independence referendum in March 1991 there were 1.144.309 persons with the right to vote. 32 At the constitutional referendum in summer 1992 the reported number of persons with such a right was 689.319, or only about 60% of the 1991 figure. 33 Consequently, 454.990 adults in Estonia had been disenfranchised.

With regard to a somewhat similar situation in Latvia Fernand de Varennes noted with a certain irony: ‘In practice, that means that more than half a million people, many of them born in [the country], have lost the right to vote in national elections since that country "became a democracy"’. 34 And despite the fact that nearly any reference to ethnic dimension was scrupulously avoided in the text of the law, there were no doubts from the very beginning that the Law on citizenship would affect, first and foremost, the minority groups, i.e. the so-called ‘non-Estonians’. Rein Müllerson is obviously right in his conclusion:

Hence, it is apparent that it was a desire to obtain or at least to approximate to ethnic purity and not consideration of legal consistency that led to such an approach towards citizenship question in Estonia. 35

The political message behind this policy was also very clear. Priit Järve notes:

Those who arrived in Estonia after 1940 were clearly given to understand that they stood outside of Estonian society (at least primarily). Probably the forecast was that citizenship would be out of reach for most foreigners even through naturalization, because their poor knowledge of Estonian language was well known. Perhaps there were hopes that after the foreigners found themselves in a position of people with limited rights, they would en masse leave for their historical motherland. 36

The resulting situation has been the target of growing criticism both inside Estonia and abroad. Of course, while not defending the legal restorationist policy, it should be pointed out that it was not the expressed purpose of its authors to discriminate on an ethnic or other ascriptive basis. This legal decision was designed to reflect the illegal nature of the Soviet ‘occupation’ and to separate descendant Estonian citizens from those who were supposed to keep their Soviet citizenship. Unfortunately, the USSR disintegrated at the end of 1991, i.e. before the adoption of the law on citizenship in Estonia (26 February 1992). And naturally, nobody could keep the citizenship of a non-existing state. But this very important nuance was ignored and the Estonian Supreme Council mechanically ‘restored’ the pre-war 1938 Law on Citizenship.

The word ‘restored’ is written here in inverted commas not by accident or to express irony. But rather to make the point that the word is not entirely appropriate. Scholars who have written on the law usually stress the liberal character of the 1938 Law (i.e. its short residency requirement, moderate language exam, etc.) 37 But they ignore the fact that the 1938 Law on Citizenship actually was not restored. It was renewed, while its most liberal provisions were abolished. For example, according to the 1938 Law those who have permanently resided on the territory of Estonia for more than 10 years can obtain citizenship based on a simplified procedure, without the need to demonstrate language competence.

There was no special test for language competence in the 1938 Law; the applicant simply had to demonstrate his ability to maintain an ordinary conversation. There was no need for the children of stateless parents to apply for citizenship. And so on. In other words, if the citizenship law of 1938 had been restored completely, the great majority of Soviet-era migrants would have been able to obtain citizenship quickly and simply. (Most of them had lived in Estonia much longer than 10 years; while more than 40% of them were born in Estonia.) But the decision on the implementation of the Law on Citizenship made the procedure long and difficult.

Still, the process of naturalisation was begun. According to data presented to the conference ‘Citizenship and Children in Estonia’ (1998) by the Department of Migration and Citizenship, 85 894 Estonian inhabitants received Estonian citizenship on the basis of the 1992 Law. Among them:

Obviously, these figures show that the process of naturalisation has been slow indeed, taking into account the total number of stateless persons. During those years (1993-1995), however, it was nonetheless steady, and more and more peoples seemed to accept ‘the rules of the game’. Yet the process abruptly slowed when the Estonian parliament in January 1995 adopted a completely new Law on Citizenship, which added a new civics exam (to be given also in Estonian). The permanent residency requirement before application for citizenship was prolonged to 5 years, and ‘permanent residency’ was now defined as living in Estonia with a permanent residence permit which, in its turn, one can obtain only after living in Estonia for 5 years on the basis of a temporary residence permit. 39 (These latter provisions concerning residency were suspended, however, for former Soviet permanent residents in Estonia.)

The draft of the law passed the parliament in record time (just three weeks!), while protests from minority organisations, including the Presidential Round Table on Minorities, were ignored. Critical remarks by international experts were not taken into consideration. The result was largely predictable and disastrous from the integration perspective. By the middle of 1998 only 3 939 applicants had passed the new full-scale procedure of naturalisation. Additionally, about 11 000 children (up to 15 years old) of naturalised citizens could now obtain citizenship together with their parents according to the new rules. But this slight liberalisation could not compensate for the severe narrowing of the opportunity to resolve the citizenship issue for Estonia’s ‘aliens’. One can only share the sad observation made by Andrus Park. He writes, there is

a ‘cyclical pattern that was visible in the Estonian citizenship policy already since 1992: first, a relatively radical law was established, then certain liberalizing specifications were added to it, then another relatively radical law was adopted, then again certain liberalizing specifications were added, etc. The underlying longer trend in 1991-1994 was - against all this cyclical background — toward making the citizenship policy more Estonian-centered and uncompromising.’ 40

Park made this observation in 1995 and subsequent developments have showed no substantial changes in terms of real citizenship policy, though some attempts to change the underlying paradigm have appeared recently (see section 4.2 below).


3.2 Law on Aliens

Another problem that the Estonian authorities had to face was defining the legal status of these non-citizen permanent residents. As was mentioned above, the initial plan to have them remain citizens of the USSR failed. During 1992 many Estonian officials still continued to speak of ‘Soviet citizenship’, while others tried to assert that these people be considered citizens of the Russian Federation, since the Russian Federation had declared itself to be the legal successor to the USSR. Receiving no international support for this argument, and after a long period of uncertainty, the Estonian parliament was forced to adopt a decision, which was called ‘The Law on Aliens’. 41

Numerous debates, protests, arguments, even scandals accompanied the process of adopting the law, including negative commentaries by international experts (the CSCE and the Council of Europe) on the initial version of the law. They were critical about some general violations of legal standards, in particular the de-recognising of rights already obtained by the permanent residents. All twelve governments of the European Union sent a diplomatic letter to the Government of Estonia drawing attention to problems in the law. Finally, the President of Estonia used his right of veto after the law was first passed in June 1993 and ultimately the most deleterious provisions of the initial version were re-considered. But the basic contradiction remained. On the one hand, the authors of the law claimed that its main purpose was to ‘legalise’ the status of non-citizens residing on Estonian territory. For, according to the restoration principle all such people had entered Estonia illegally, during the Soviet ‘occupation’ of Estonia. Thus the law annulled the validity of the Soviet practice of propiska or local registration, both permanent and temporary ones, as a result of which the illegal immigrants would have to apply for a new residence permit. Initially they would be given a temporary residence permit and only after 3-5 years could they apply for a permanent one.

On the other hand, despite the fact that these permanent residents would have to go through a re-registration procedure, they were guaranteed all rights previously granted them under other legislation and they were to be issued special certificates, which would attest to their ‘conditionally-permanent’ status (Articles 20-22 of the Law). (Not surprisingly, this promise was never executed). Yet, ironically, the main proof that would be used to certify permanent residency would be the same propiska stamp that was being abolished. So that this fact could be treated as an indirect recognition of the fact that the persons in question were in Estonia legally. Additionally, the evident assumption lying behind the 1992 Law on Citizenship was that non-citizen settlers from the Soviet period were legal residents. They could apply for citizenship immediately after the law coming into force. So, as Erik Andersen ironically remarks, ‘the Russians obtained the right to live in a country where they already had the right to live’. 42

Another problem in this connection was the problem of provision of valid identification documents for these people. For most of the non-citizens their only identification document continued to be their Soviet internal passport. This passport, however, was not valid for travel abroad and thus the problem of free movement also arose.

Initially, the Estonian authorities worked out their own solution in the form of a ‘Temporary Travel Document’. This passport-like document was valid for only one trip abroad (in the space of two years) and had to be requested 30 days in advance. The applicant had to return it to the Citizenship and Migration Board (CMB) immediately after his/her trip. Additionally, it was stated that the bearer was not entitled to any aid or protection from Estonian diplomatic officials. Not surprisingly, then, only a few countries agreed to recognise this document. (Some of them, mostly the Nordic countries and Russia, recognised the document de facto.) Nonetheless, by the end of 1995 more than 18 000 such documents had been issued by the CMB. Finally, in 1994 the Estonian Government decided on a more permanent document, which would be in use both internally and abroad, which was called the ‘Alien’s passport’. 43 The process of applying for and distributing the Alien’s passports was largely (although not entirely) completed by the end of 1997.

Thus the period of uncertainty in terms of the legal status of non-citizens lasted for almost 5 years. During this time the former Soviet passport was on several occasions declared invalid, deadlines for its validity were announced, then extended, both by the government as well as by individual state departments (for example, by the Border Guard Department). As one can see, there is certainly no need to deliberate whether this situation corresponded with the civic model of nation building or helped to create any confidence toward Estonian official institutions among the non-Estonians. Erik A. Andersen concluded his exhaustive analysis of the Law on Citizenship and the Law on Aliens in very definite way:

It is difficult not to express an admiration for the Estonians’ exceptional ability to create legal confusion for the Russians. It would hardly be an exaggeration to maintain that the hidden purpose of both the Law on Citizenship and the Law on Aliens was to frustrate the Russians to such a degree that they ‘voluntary’ chose to leave the country. Thus it must be emphasised that most of the problems [...] were created by the Estonians themselves and could very easily have been evaded. For example, it could be done by issuing residence permits to all permanent residents on 1 July 1990. 44

As one can see, there is certainly no need to deliberate whether this situation corresponded with the civic model of nation building or helped to create any confidence toward Estonian official institutions among the non-Estonians.


3.3 The minority population and the citizenship issue

A majority of non-Estonians, while expecting the gradual transformation of the Soviet system, were, nevertheless, rather poorly prepared for the rapid disintegration of the Soviet Union and the restitution of the Republic of Estonia. This socio-psychological shock was only increased when they found themselves without citizenship in the new state. This uncertainty of legal status and a lack of valid documents became a situation of legal chaos and certainly did not help them to deal with the new circumstances. Not surprisingly, then, one part of the non-citizens, who felt this abnormal and inferior position, decided to choose the simplest way out: they applied for Russian Federation citizenship. Thus they did exactly what the restitutionist ideologists wanted and expected. Indeed, against this backdrop it is hard not to believe that the whole situation of legal chaos was created artificially and purposely, as Andersen pointed out.

According to data presented by the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Estonia, the total number of those who had applied and received Russian citizenship by August 1997 was 124,070. However, nobody knows how many of these people are still living in Estonia. By different estimations it might be 80,000-90,000. While the ideologists of restorationism could be pretty satisfied with such a development, in terms of integration it has exemplified a less-than-positive trend. The decision among these people to accept foreign (Russian) citizenship will inevitably erode their sense of belonging to the society where they live. Yet such a feeling of belonging is an essential part of integration. It is interesting to look at the social-demographic (and some social-psychological) characteristics of the different groups of non-Estonians according to their citizenship status.

Table . Principal differences between non-Estonians with different legal statuses (percentages)

Citizenship status:




Born in Estonia




Up to 43 years of age




With higher education




Managers, specialists, employees












I speak Estonian fluently or well




I communicate every day in Estonian




I feel secure at my present place

of work




I believe Estonia will become

a secure country




Source: Estonia’s experiment 1997, 3.

The picture shows quite clearly that generally Russian Federation citizens are older, have a lower level of education and a lower socio-economic status. The largest group among them is pensioners. It is not surprising therefore that they have not tried to pass the severe naturalisation procedure. 45 The result is a widespread feeling of insecurity among these people reflected in the last two lines of Table above. This was probably the main reason for obtaining Russian citizenship.

Another survey shows that non-Estonians’ feeling of insecurity stems from their uncertain legal status, together with some practical reasons (e.g. opportunities for travel). These reasons account for most of the motivation for obtaining Russian Federation citizenship. Only one fifth of Estonia’s Russian citizens expressed a genuine connection with Russia in terms of nationality; and an even smaller number of them actually believed in the possibility of protection from the Russian Federation. 46 Moreover, their view of what citizenship their children should have presents an even more impressive picture: an absolute majority of these respondents do not see their children as future Russian citizens. (See Table .)

Table . Do you want your children to become Estonian citizens? (percentages)

Russian citizens

Stateless persons







Probably not






Don’t know



Source: Estonia’s Non-Citizens 1997.

The data presented here prompt the conclusion that the relatively strong tendency among non-citizens toward obtaining Russian Federation citizenship by no means signifies the existence of any ‘imperial feelings’ among these people, as the restitution ideologists often claim. Juri Kruusvall has drawn a similar conclusion based on completely different sociological findings: ‘This fact supports the hypothesis that Russian citizenship was chosen for practical, not for ethnic or political reasons’. 47 Neither does it mean that these people ‘refuse to recognise’ Estonian independence. It only reflects a desperate reaction of forced alienation on the part of the non-citizen population as a result of Estonian citizenship policy.

If we return to the previous Table, then we can find that Estonian citizens and persons without citizenship (stateless) actually have much in common, in contrast to Russian Federation citizens. The disproportionately large number of persons with higher education among citizens might be explained by the fact that for an educated person it is easier to pass the naturalisation exams. Estonian citizens also feel more secure on the job, which is quite understandable. The real significant differences lie in the ability to speak Estonian and, more importantly, the opportunity to do so. Only 4% of the stateless respondents communicate every day in Estonian, while for Estonian citizens the figure is eight times higher. As a result, 8% of the stateless respondents reported that they could speak Estonian fluently or well, compared to 37% of the Estonian citizens. At the same time their linguistic ability is far from being hopeless. For the findings of the same survey show that only 18% of them have no knowledge of Estonian at all. The most important problem, therefore, is not their individual desire or readiness for integration, but the actual circumstances and opportunities open to them. What the stateless group needs most are not compulsion or severe requirements, but assistance and open opportunities.

Naturally, most of the non-citizens living in Estonia express a definite wish to acquire Estonian citizenship. Even citizens of Russia have not completely lost hope in this regard. But the conditions established by the law make these people quite pessimistic, as the data presented below show:

Table . Do you wish to acquire Estonian citizenship (non-citizens, and citizens of Russia, percentages)





Only if the conditions for obtaining citizenship change


Probably not




Source: Project survey

And respondents in another survey also share this pessimistic view.

Table . Feasibility to achieve Estonian citizenship (for stateless persons, percentages)









Not feasible



Source: Kirde-Eesti 1995, 25

These findings should be treated as a worrying symptom. They indicate that the mood of hopelessness in terms of obtaining citizenship is widespread among the non-Estonian non-citizen community. More than a half of these people consider themselves incapable of being able to fulfil the high standards of naturalisation. Therefore, their prospects for integration become more and more questionable. What is more, their feelings of uncertainty grow year by year. The longitudinal study of the Tartu University Market Research Team shows this tendency very clearly.

Table . Citizenship preferences for stateless persons (percentages)



































Source: Kirde-Eesti 1995, 23

People have not only become more uncertain about their citizenship prospects for the time being (as the last line indicates), but they have also become more unsure as to whether they wish to obtain Estonian nationality at all under the present conditions. This tendency is especially acute in the capital city, Tallinn. The result can only be an increasing alienation from Estonian official structures and isolation from Estonia’s development.

The situation could hardly be called normal, since a majority of stateless people still believe in their belonging to Estonian society and want to feel themselves a part of it. The motives, which they tend to mention as reasons for obtaining Estonian citizenship, are also revealing (as evident in our current survey).

Table . Three main reasons for acquiring Estonian citizenship (non-citizens’ priorities, percentages)


First priority

Second priority

Third priority

I believe I am a part of the country




I wish to establish a legal bond with the country




It is better for my children




It makes it easier to get a job




It increases my social value and self-confidence




It is easier to travel abroad




I would like to be able to vote and participate in political and public life








In fact, the main motives shown in this table recall, incidentally, a well-known definition of nationality in the International Court of Justice’s decision in the Nottebohm Case: ‘a legal bond having as its basis a social fact of attachment, a genuine connection of existence, interests and sentiments’. 48 For, the wish expressed in these figures to feel part of the country, not to be discriminated against in the labour market, together with a concern for the future of one’s children, obviously all reflect ‘the fact of social attachment and genuine connection of existence, interests and sentiments’. Not surprisingly, then, the absolute majority of non-Estonians perceive the citizenship policy as unjust and unsatisfactory. 49 The disenfranchisement of these people definitely ‘reduces their social value and destroys their own self-confidence’, quoting the UN Secretariat Report ‘A Study of Statelessness’ (1949). 50

Given their dissatisfaction with the current citizenship policy, the minority respondents expressed the following support for a range of possible solutions:

Table . Who should be granted Estonian citizenship? (percentages)

Persons who were born in Estonia and reside here permanently


Persons who are permanent residents of Estonia under the age of 18, who otherwise would remain stateless


Persons who are permanently resided in Estonia for more than 10 years and are stateless


Persons living in Estonia at independence


Any former Soviet citizen now living in Estonia


Source: Project survey.

It might be noticed that the respondents generally (and intuitively) followed the principles and rules of nationality, as they are developed in contemporary international instruments. Let us take, for example, the most recent and most advanced one, the European Convention on Nationality (1997), that entered into force in February 1998. Chapter III of the Convention deals with the rules relating to nationality. Article 6 (the Acquisition of Nationality) reads, inter alia:

‘Each State Party shall facilitate in its internal law the acquisition of its nationality for the following persons:

(e) persons who were born on its territory and reside there lawfully and habitually;
(f) persons who are lawfully and habitually resident on its territory for a period of time beginning before the age of 18, that period to be determined by the internal law of the State Party concerned;
(g) stateless persons and recognised refugees lawfully and habitually resident on its territory.’

It is without a doubt that most of Estonia’s non-citizens answer these criteria and hence their desire for Estonian nationality are well-founded. The point is, however, that these principles and criteria are based on a civic approach to nation building, which is supposed to lead toward an open multicultural society. But the Estonian authorities clearly are in no rush to follow international standards in this regard. There is no sign that Estonia intends to join the Convention on Nationality, nor other similar international instruments. Indeed, the list of such treaties unratified by Estonia is impressive in itself:

UN Convention of the Status of Stateless Persons (1954);
UN Convention on the Nationality of Married Women (1957);
UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (1961);
European Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level;
Convention of the International Commission of Civil Status to reduce the number of cases of statelessness (1973);
European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages (1992);
European Convention on Nationality (1997).

There is currently only one instrument in the field that Estonia has signed, the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (1994). But the Estonian parliament has made its own interpretation of the term ‘national minority’; again, it includes only citizens of Estonia. This reservation certainly limits the applicability of the Convention and reduces the validity of its ratification. It also contradicts the current approach to minority protection as it was clearly expressed by the UN Human Rights Committee: ‘A State party may not, therefore, restrict the rights under article 27 to its citizens alone’. 51

One may only regret that this legal evasiveness is not yet a subject of international concern. Since it is a clear empirical indication that an inclusive civic approach to nation building, which is manifested in these international instruments, does not as yet have many adherents among Estonian decision-makers.


3.4 Language legislation

Language legislation in Estonia is based on Article 6 of the Constitution, which states, ‘The official language of Estonia is Estonian’. This principle is realised through several particular laws, primarily the Law on Language (1995), and by corresponding provisions in a number of other laws: the Educational Law (1992); the Law on Basic and Upper Secondary Schools (1993); the Law on Public Service (1995); the Local Government Council Election Act (1996); and others. The main idea of all these provisions has been worded in Art. 4 of the Language Law: ‘Every person shall have the right to use the Estonian language as the official language in state institutions, local governments, cultural autonomy bodies as well as in institutions, enterprises and organisations’.

As in the case of the Citizenship law, the current Language law also represents a second version. The first attempt to establish rules for language relations was the adoption of the Law on Language by the Supreme Council of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1989. At that time, Estonia was actually the first Soviet republic, which established the language of the titular nation as the state language and tried to enforce a balanced Estonian-Russian bilingualism, while still being a part of the Soviet Union. Thus it was part of a general programme to protect Estonian ethnic minority rights, as was mentioned above. The law established six categories of Estonian language knowledge that non-Estonian official employees at different levels had to fulfil. The law stipulated also a transitional period for the law to be fully implemented as well as a state-organised language teaching system for Russian-speaking employees.

The law was not implemented fully for several reasons. First of all, the transition period (2-4 years) turned out predictably to be totally unrealistic, taking into account the great number of employees who needed language training and a shortage of Estonian language teachers. What is more, the system of language teaching was never established on a national level, except for some isolated efforts by a few enterprises. The only visible result was the supplanting of Russian-speaking employees from official institutions. Not surprisingly, then, the enforcement of the law, for practical reasons, was several times delayed in different regions (primarily in Northeast Estonia) and for different categories of employees (police, medical personnel etc.).

Moreover, the main idea of the law–balanced bilingualism based on a presumption of equality between the Estonian and Russian languages as the most widely used ones in Estonia–no longer corresponded with the dominating ideology of restitution after 1991. A new Law on Language was adopted in 1995, and in this version the liberal provisions were reduced to a minimum. The only officially used language now was Estonian; all other languages would be treated as ‘foreign’ and to be used by way of exception. Although Russian is the mother tongue for some 35% of the population, and about 85% of the whole population is said to have a good or sufficient command of it, it still has the same rights, according to the letter of the law, as Chinese or, say, Tatar. The state has neither a responsibility nor obvious obligations toward linguistic minorities even in the field of Estonian language teaching. Certain limited rights for minorities are, nevertheless, recognised. For example, the possibility to receive official replies, or to use a minority language in a local government unit where the minority lives in a majority (cf., Article 51 of Constitution; Article 10 of the Law on Language). Still, the law makes the realisation of these provisions rather difficult. The usage of Estonian is worded as a basic right; while minority languages (i.e. Russian) ‘may be used’ in particular circumstances (but may also not be), upon a special request by the local government and as approved by the State Government, and only in units where the majority of permanent residents belong to a minority group. The law, therefore, does not refer to Tallinn where non-Estonian population compose ‘only’ 49%. Moreover, when the Sillamäe local council made a request for using Russian as its internal official language in accordance with the Article 11 of the law, the Estonian Government denied this application despite the fact that 96% residents in this town are Russian-speakers. Remarkably (or arrogantly) no reason was given. Of course, the local council all the same uses Russian but now ‘illegally’ and under permanent threat of administrative sanction.

Since then, additional language limitations have been imposed. An amendment to the Language Law adopted later in 1997 demanded also oral and written knowledge of Estonian for deputies in Parliament and local city councils. Moreover, it is the Government of Estonia which establishes the level of language knowledge. This provision, notes Commissioner on Human Rights of the Council of Baltic Sea States Ole Espersen,

may prevent part of the Russian-speaking population from presenting their candidacy, and as a result the recruitment to local governments is restricted and may not reflect the composition and interests of the local population as a whole. 52

Legal action against two elected deputies of local councils was indeed initiated by the National Language Board on the grounds that their knowledge of the state language was insufficient. In the Sillamäe case the court ruled in favour of the plaintiff and this decision was upheld by the county court to revoke the deputy’s mandate. The case was appealed to the National Court. On the contrary, in case from Maardu (Maardu is a suburb near Tallinn) the decision was in favour of the deputy, but the Department appealed, too, to the next instance.

The National Court at the end of 1998 had confirmed both decisions, thus creating a rather contradictory precedent. The reasons were, in part, procedural, due to the fact that the Sillamäe appellation was relatively weak in this regard. Another reason was that since the previous court decided that in the Sillamäe case the deputy do not speak any Estonian, but the deputy of Maardu have some command in Estonian, their situations are different with regard to Estonian domestic language legislation. In addition, on 5 February 1998 the Constitutional Review Chamber found in its ruling that the principle of language requirements as such is in accordance with the Estonian Constitution. This equivocal decision, in any case, definitely encourage Estonian legislators to further amendments to the laws on national and local elections, which, mildly speaking, by no means facilitate minorities’ participation in decision making.

The point is that by previous regulations members of elected bodies have had to sign a simple statement that they has ‘sufficient knowledge’ of Estonian in order to take part in the work of the city councils or of the Parliament. According to new amendments, adopted in December 1998, however, Members of Parliament and members of local bodies must possess a knowledge of the Estonian language in conformity with the requirements enumerated in the law (i.e. to be able to understand the content of legal acts, report on the issues of the agenda, make inquires, ask questions, submit proposals, communicate with the electorate and to answer questions, applications, etc.). The concrete level of language knowledge corresponding to these requirements should be further determined by Estonian government, and every deputy who have no certificate of education in Estonian might be tested on whether he or she answer these demands.

After adopting these amendments Estonia immediately became target for unprecedented sharp criticism, both domestically and internationally. OSCE HCNM Max van der Stoel wrote in his letter to the President Lennart Meri:

With regard to the law applicable in Estonia, the amendment in question is in my view not compatible with specific requirements of the Constitution which, inter alia, stipulates no linguistic requirements as a condition to vote or to stand for office. Moreover, the Constitution stipulates the supremacy of international treaties binding on Estonia over Estonian laws which contradict such obligations. This leads me to draw your attention to the requirements of Article 3 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which stipulate that the will of the people (i.e. the citizenry) is to be the basis of government. It is to be noted that Article 3 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights is to be read in conjunction with Article 14 of the same Convention which forbids discrimination on the basis of language. Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is even more explicit in [this regard]. 53

The Commissioner of the CBSS Ole Espersen shared the view that the adopted amendments are discriminatory in its essence. He especially draw attention to the point that these amendments ‘seemed to be a pre-selection of candidates which restricts both a citizen’s right to run for office and the right of the electorate to vote for whom ever they please.’ 54 Espersen made the same references to the ICCPR as Max van der Stoel did, and added that imposed restrictions contradicts also to article 3 of the First Protocol on the ECHR according to which contracting parties undertake holding elections under conditions ensuring ‘the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature’.

Max van der Stoel expressed further serious concern on whether such policy is in congruence with fundamental principles of democracy. He stated:

The rationale for the above-noted absolute entitlement to stand for office to be enjoyed by citizens (without unreasonable restriction) is rooted in the essence of the democratic process, i.e. they should be essentially free to decide among themselves who they would wish to elect, and each citizen should be equally free to present themselves for elections. Linguistic or other proficiency is fundamentally irrelevant to this process or objective. Should the electorate so choose, they should be free to elect persons who may enjoy their confidence but who may not in the opinion of others possess relevant or desirable skills or abilities, much less purported "proficiencies". The critical matter is that the elected person is deemed by the electorate (through the secret ballot) to represent them. There is no other matter of relevance. To require anything more would be to interfere with the basic democratic process and undermine the will of the people as the basis of government. 55

On the basis of these arguments OSCE High Commissioner appealed to the President of Estonia not to promulgate the amendments adopted by Estonian Parliament. The same appeals were made by the faction of Russian members of Parliament who definitely voted against the draft amendments and by members of Presidential Round Table on Minorities.

Estonian authorities did not listen to these appeals, as well as to protests from the side of several minority organisations. The reply of the President to the OSCE High Commissioner is not yet available to the public, but Estonian Foreign Minister’s comments to Ole Espersen stated with remarkable placidity that ‘the Constitutional Review Chamber of the Supreme Court found in its ruling that the enactment of certain language requirements of knowledge of the Estonian language for candidates to Parliament or local assemblies are constitutionally justified’. 56 Thus Estonian authorities did not even trouble to dispute substantial arguments presented by highly competent international experts; they simply ignored them.

Clearly, the issue of whether a democratically elected person can be removed from office due to a failure to meet certain language requirements is of essential importance. But it is already clear that language legislation also serves as an effective tool for limiting minority participation in public life.


3.5 Law on Cultural Autonomy

The Constitution of Estonia does guarantee certain minority rights. In this regard the most important articles are Article 49 ‘Everyone has the right to preserve his or her national identity’; and Article 50 ‘National minorities have the right, in the interests of national culture, to establish self-governing agencies under condition and pursuant to procedure provided by the National Minorities Cultural Autonomy Act’. The Constitution was adopted in 1992, and the next year the Law on Cultural Autonomy was passed.

The law set forth a number of specific rights for minority group members, like the right ‘to practice their own cultural and educational institutions and religious congregations’, the right to publish minority language publications, the right to use their language in accordance with state language regulations. In order to enjoy these rights, however, members of national minorities have to elect autonomous cultural affairs councils that would be responsible for representing their interests and running minority cultural institutions. The councils would be formed through nation-wide elections based on voluntary lists of minority group members to be composed by the minorities themselves.

As of 1998, five years after the law’s adoption, no autonomous cultural bodies have been set up and no minority cultural organisation has even tried to realise the procedure. This indicates that something is seriously wrong with the law itself. One of the most important failures is certainly the definition of minorities presented in the law. Again, following the favourite principle of Estonian officials, it includes only citizens of Estonia. Non-citizens are allowed to take part in activities, but are restricted from being elected to the councils or governing bodies. Paradoxically, they can not even vote for the election of cultural councils, thus having less rights than permanent residents who can participate in local elections! As a result, for minority leaders, including those most loyal toward official policy in Estonia, using such approach, which would create artificial dividing lines among the members of their community, was not acceptable.

Another serious deficiency in the law has been the vagueness in terms of who is a subject of the law. Sometimes the text refers to a ‘person belonging to a national minority’. In other passages it is a question of cultural bodies. In Article 12 the law refers to the ‘cultural councils’ to be elected; while in Article 24 it is said that institutions of cultural autonomy should be educational institutions, ethnic cultural institutions, enterprises, etc, and that the provisions of appropriate laws should govern these institutions, i.e. the law on private schools, the law on privatisation, regulations for private enterprises, or public organisations, and so on. With all these qualifications, it is unclear, what then shall be the role of the elected councils? What is clear is that the law by no means affords an opportunity for self-governing as the cultural councils have only the right to request financial help from official and public foundations and organisations. Yet, all existing NGOs can already do the same, thus to create an additional body through a rather complex and expensive bureaucratic procedure only to be able to do more or less the same things seems obviously useless for most minority societies.


3.6 Re-ethnification projects

This is an integral and substantial part of the ethnic, or ethnic-primordialist project. While in the inclusive civic model ‘unity and state identity was sought above ethnicities, the re-ethnification model seeks unity through ethnicities (in the plural)’. 57 Like in other post-Soviet countries, the ideas of re-ethnification are widely discussed and periodically occupy a central position in the political discourse and in the mass media. One could even point out that Estonia was a kind of ‘pioneer’ in the matter. Already in 1987, at the peak of ‘perestroika’ and at the beginning of the ‘singing revolution’, a congress for members of different national-ethnic groups was convened, where the organisation called ‘The Estonian Union of Nationalities’ (unofficially named ‘Nationalities Forum’) was created. The organisation was supposed to represent the interests of all non-Estonian ethnic groups and initially was composed of 22 nation-culture societies. It was claimed that Estonia’s population consisted of about one hundred different ‘nationalities’.

But upon more serious examination it was clear from the very beginning that this figure was artificial and misleading. Statistically the vast majority of these groups are too small in number and hence largely insignificant. The cultural societies, ‘representing’ them, in most cases included, at best, a dozen enthusiasts. This is true even for the most numerous Ukrainian group. Accordingly, the results of their activity has been (and remains) rather modest. Only one of these groups has been able to found its own grammar school and regularly publish a newspaper, and just as one might expected this was the Jewish community with its long traditions of self-organisation. It is however indicative, that the language of instruction in this school is Russian and the newspaper is published also in Russian.

Thus Russian language remains (and will remain for a foreseeable future) as one of the most important means of communication in Estonian society. And the term ‘Russophones’, disliked by many, only reflects the reality. Linguistic identity in this sense definitely prevails in Estonia over the ethnic one. Moreover, in spite of the continuous attempts to realise the re-ethnification project, a common Russian-speaking identity, based on a perception of common ‘destiny’ in the face of Estonian ethnic mobilisation and the Estonians’ obvious adherence toward ethnic project, is clearly visible.

Certainly, the project for re-ethnification has not disappeared. The Estonian state-run radio programme (Radio-4) produces one-hour broadcasts in Ukrainian and Belorussian on a regular basis (at least once a week), some semi-periodical informational brochures are also published, and conferences and cultural festivals (‘days of culture’) are also organised. Meanwhile, a competing organisation to the Estonian Union of Nationalities has also emerged, the ‘Lüüra’ Association, which does not claim to represent any specific ethnic groups as a whole, but rather works with amateur non-Estonian artistic collectives.

Nevertheless, the re-ethnification project in Estonia has had little success. In fact, it was unrealistic from the very beginning since it was based on somewhat different and often even contradictory assumptions. Its romantic side reflected the general atmosphere of national awakening of the perestroika era, with its preoccupation with the search for ethnic ‘roots’ and ethno-linguistic identities and with its protest against Soviet unification. Yet curiously enough, the idea was expressed through the typical Soviet way of defining individuals primarily as ‘representatives’ of their ethnic groups. At the same time such feelings were immediately used as the object of very pragmatic and far from idealistic political manipulations. New national leaders (who rapidly turned into nationalistic ones) preferred to treat this movement as an effective tool for splitting up the Russophone population into small, politically dependent and easily manipulated ‘loyal’ segments. That is why the Nationalities Forum in the beginning enjoyed moral and financial support from the Popular Front and later from the Estonian government. The loyal stance of the organisation and its leaders intended to show up the position of Russian organisations, which were considered too radical and recalcitrant. Actually, the Forum was supposed to leave the impression that minorities support the authorities’ rather dubious and unpopular political decisions.

The Nationalities Forum played this role several times, though mostly not for any good. For example, they strongly supported the Draft Law on Culture Autonomy against sharp criticism from the Russian Democratic Movement and the Representative Assembly. The adopted Law predictably has remained still-born to the present day because of its obvious incoherence and inconsistency. The leaders of the Ukrainian community made another unfortunate political move when they hastened to express their support for the first version of the Law on Aliens. They were thrown into confusion, however, when this controversial law was later seriously amended and re-adopted at a special session of the parliament (see 3.2 above).

But another contradiction constitutes a much more important matter. Being so closely bounded with the official Estonian policy, the leaders of the national-cultural societies have to share (and many of them sincerely share) the official ideology of nation building. For they, as Vojin Dimitrijevic ironically remarks, are ‘suffering from the same disorder, each nation must have a home, and one home only’. 58 The logically expected behaviour stemming from this presumption, for the ethnic aliens, is to leave Estonia wholly owned by the Estonians and to join ‘their’ own proper states. But such an idea obviously enjoys no popularity neither among ordinary non-Estonian inhabitants, nor among these leaders themselves. Instead, they make efforts to establish Sunday schools for ethnic minorities, try to develop national-cultural centres and so on, all the while unable to see the basic contradiction between their activity and their expressed loyalty toward an ethnonationalistic idea of nation building. Their complaints about a continual decrease of state financial support sound pathetic and are ultimately hopeless. Thus, in 1994 the Estonian government allocated only 75 000 Estonian kroons (less than $6 500) to support 35 national culture societies. 59 In the eyes of the Estonian nationalists these organisations have mostly played their role and can now be ignored. The situation could only change if a shift toward a civic approach become acceptable.

In the midst of officially cultivated state monolingualism, the efforts of these societies to establish minority language educational institutions also seem illusory. Given that even Russian has no official status in Estonia, supporting education in much lesser-used languages hardly seems likely to improve the life prospects for an individual. The history of attempts to found a Ukrainian grammar school (gymnasium) is indicative. After failing to find any support for the idea, the leaders of the Ukrainian community tried to organise a Sunday school, which in turn failed again. As a final attempt they demanded a special Ukrainian class in a Russian school. For this they received the support of the Presidential Round Table on National Minorities, and the Ministry of Education even guaranteed financial support. The opening of a Ukrainian class was announced in the press, but only one student ended up registering.


3.7 Privatisation legislation and its consequences

The analysis of property legislation in the framework of ethnic relations is, undoubted, a difficult task. Generally, references to its ethnic dimensions are scrupulously avoided in the legal texts. 60 It is for this reason that the extremely comprehensive study by Erik Andersen is so valuable. 61 Andersen elucidated eight principal dimensions of property reform and then drew conclusions based on them regarding the status of the Russian minority. The eight aspects include: (1) compensation value, (2) vouchers, (3) land ownership, (4) other forms of privatisation (scales of privatisation, privatisation of dwellings), (5) business and labour conditions, (6) political, professional and social rights, (7) citizenship, and (8) aliens’ status. 62

Andersen then identified several main distinctions on the basis of which he drew his conclusions. These were the consequences of privatisation legislation; its limitations and advantages; intended-unintended consequences; direct-indirect consequences; temporary-permanent effects of legislation.

Based on his analysis Andersen claimed there was an ethnic dimension in Estonian legislation even there were no explicit distinctions made in the laws between Estonians and Russians.

Russians are not made equal under the law. Moreover, the lack of equality must be understood to mean actual inferiority. None of Estonian laws provide Russians with any kind of affirmative action or positive discrimination. It is certainly possible to point out certain borderline cases where one might debate whether Russians have had a special, positive status. The normal situation, however, has been that the Russians are treated worse than the Estonians. 63

In the end of his study Erik Andersen summarises his conclusions in the following way:

(1) The legislation contained a systematic distortion. [It] cannot be seen in the individual laws when viewed, they appear in varying forms from law to law and are hidden by the many different designations or categories, which the legislation utilises... There is a prevailing tendency of discrimination against the Russians.

(2) There has been a gradual tightening of restrictions toward the Russians. [...] Only by passing through the ‘eye of the needle’ which is citizenship can the Russians achieve equality with the Estonians. This process has been effectively blocked by the Estonian politicians and the administrative authorities. [...] However, only by a change in nationalities policy can there occur changes in the foreseeable future.

(3)The fundamental redistribution of values and restoration of property under privatisation has already taken place. To a considerable degree, the process has been to the advantage of the Estonians. 64

In his chapter of this volume, Raivo Vetik attempts to dispute this conclusion. He admits that ‘there are important socio-economic differences between Estonians and non-Estonians’, but he refuses to see any systematic pattern of discrimination. Instead, he argues that ethnic separation and economic differences have not developed into ethnically coloured political issues, and that the data presented in his chapter tends to support the position of Richard Rose (1996) rather than that of Andersen (1997a; 1997b) or Kroncke & Smith (1996). But if we look closer at his arguments and data presented, we will come to an opposite conclusion.

To begin with, one has to keep in mind the different kinds of information used. In his ‘Baltic Barometer’ survey, Rose operated with the verbal responses of his respondents, while Kroncke & Smith and Andersen studied objective statistics. The last approach is certainly more valid in the sense that it presents the real picture and trends. Of course, verbal questionnaires do have their reliability. However, in this case the researcher must remember that the data present not the reality as such, but only the perception of the real situation by the respondents. Thus these two kinds of data need not contradict each other, but rather may in fact complement each other. In our case, the valid scientific conclusion might be formulated as follows: the fact of social and economic differentiation along ethnic lines in Estonian society only to a certain extent is realised in the public consciousness at the present time.

Still, such a realisation is beginning to form among Estonia’s Russians, and the data presented by Vetik himself disprove his arguments. In most cases, it is a matter of arbitrary interpretation. For instance, the difference in the unemployment rate between Estonians (3.6%) and non-Estonians (6.8%) might be called ‘not substantial’, but it is a clear difference — 1.9 times in favour of the Estonians. If we compare these data with another survey, where a question about temporary unemployment was added, the difference is even more serious.

Table . Families, whose members were unemployed or had only a part-time job during the last year (percentage averages 1993-1995)



Non-Estonians (Tallinn)


Non-Estonians (Northeast)


Source: Kirde-Eesti 1995, 13

Not surprisingly, then, non-Estonians have expressed substantially more fear of unemployment than Estonians — 59% and 18%, respectively, according to the ‘Baltic Barometer’. This is a three-fold difference.

Using another example. Vetik reports that ‘Estonians judge their financial situation to be a bit better than non-Estonians, but the difference is not big’. Again, the difference among families with an income below the subsistence level is quite significant: in a ratio of two to three (22% to 33%, respectively), and thus11% in favour of Estonians.

Particularly strange is Vetik’s interpretation of responses to the question about the nationality of Estonian ‘nouveaux riches’. In both groups of respondents 40% said these were Estonians and 10% Russians. And the author draws the conclusion that ‘the standard of living of Estonians is slightly higher than that of non-Estonians’. Indeed, if this is the kind of four-fold difference that Vetik considers only ‘slightly higher’, one wonders what sort of difference he would need to classify it as ‘moderately high’?

What is more important, however, is that all the findings show that there is a systematic imbalance, as Andersen has noted. In each case where a difference between Estonians and non-Estonians exists, it is in favour of the Estonians. The Russians’ disadvantage might be, in some cases, ‘not big’, or ‘not substantial’, in any given author’s estimation; and at best one might claim there are no differences. But there is no single example of the Russians (or non-Estonians) being more successful than the Estonians in any legal, economic, or social field. Thus, the data fully support Andersen’s conclusion.

Finally, one can also cite two more recent sources, the first being the Estonian Human Development Report 1997 (EHDR), which composed an index measuring the "risk of social exclusion" among different sectors of the population based on data by the NORBALT survey (a joint study by the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs, the Statistical Office of Estonia and the Norwegian International Applied Social Research Institute FAFO, 1994). In this survey, social exclusion was defined as ‘the loss of social cohesion which expresses itself in the inability of members of society to use existing opportunities and to keep step with the regeneration of society’. 65 These findings also showed that the differences between the Estonians and other ethnic groups (Russians in particular) were quite significant.

Table . Risk of social exclusion according to nationality (percentages)

















Source: EHDR 1997, 17.

Secondly, the Estonian Open Society Research Institute has also construct a typology of social strata according to levels of consumption. This study was included in the UNDP’s Estonian Human Development Report 1998. According to these data, the ethnic distribution among members of different strata appeared as follows:

Table . Ethnic composition of social strata (percentages)


Elite class (8%)

High middle class (15%)

Low middle class (33%)

High low class (32%)

Low low class (12%)



















Source: EHDR 1998, 65.

Naturally, additional comprehensive studies will make the picture more detailed and clear. However, there is already enough evidence to say that economic transformation and legislative policy in Estonia have contributed to the creation of social and economic cleavages along ethnic lines.


4 Identification of main trends


4.1 Separation and ethnic cleavages

It is generally recognised that the existence of two (or more) relatively separated ethnic communities in Estonia has not been the sole result of recent development. Mati Heidmets notes that also during Soviet times there were comparatively few inter-ethnic marriages in Estonia as well as linguistically mixed schools, or informal friendship contacts. He adds that ‘historically Russian as well as other minorities in Estonia have lived as comparatively isolated communities’. 66 One has to agree with this observation. However, in order to evaluate the reasons for this situation and to examine the present trends and prospects, one has to also compare attitudes toward openness vs. closeness among the two communities. Data from two independent studies show that the impetus for separation comes mostly from the Estonian side.

An international group of sociologists studied attitudes toward association with members of other nationalities by using a standard number of indications including preferences for housing, workplace, and marriage. According to their findings, Russian respondents had a much more positive attitude toward close association with members of other nationalities than did many Estonian respondents.

Table . Preference for living in a monoethnic neighbourhood, working in a monoethnic workplace, and having a monoethnic marriage (percentage)




Preferred place of work




Does not matter






Preferred neighbourhood




Does not matter






Preferred marriage

Marry within group



Does not matter



Marry member of other group



Source: Anderson, Silver, Titma and Ponarin 1996, 40.

The authors concluded that Estonians are more insular toward Russians than Russians are toward Estonians.

In another study, a group of Moscow sociologists used a similar set of indicators and came to a similar conclusion. They found that the Estonians were significantly less in favour of working in mixed ethnic collectives (64% negative response, in contrast with 21% of the Russians); 40% did not approve of inter-ethnic marriages (contra 2% of the Russians); 94% preferred mono-ethnic friendship contacts. 67

On the whole, the Russians were more open-minded and tolerant toward the Estonians than the Estonians were toward the Russians. Anderson and her colleagues stress the historical and cultural factors at work. The Estonian peasant farm culture produced introverted and individualistic personalities. Another factor might be the linguistic distance between Russians and Estonians; in this way Estonians have tried to protect their ethnic identity. The demographic situation in Soviet Union also influenced more exclusive tendencies among Estonians.

The native Estonians were resentful [of immigrants] and their resistance intensified as the waves of migration continued. Quiet isolation of the newcomers became the favored local policy. Segregation of the Russian immigrants was not dictated by Soviet authorities but was actively pursued and encouraged by the Estonians. 68

In this way the observation of Heidmets needs an important clarification: it was not the Russians who lived in a closed community; it was the Estonians. In light of this fact the decision to choose an ethnic-primordialist model of nation building, which was made in 1991, seems almost inevitable. ‘The emotional atmosphere in society was not ready to accept more liberal solutions’, remarks Heidmets. 69 The question remains whether this ‘emotional atmosphere’ has changed since then. The description of the public and political discourse given above (section 2), hardly gives evidence of substantial changes. Recently, for example, the Estonian-American political scientist Rein Taagepera published an article entitled ‘Integration of the former civil garrison’. The title is symptomatic in itself. Among other things he suggested:

We also have to conclude from the honest history that the former members of the civil garrison cannot demand this and that as if these were their democratic human rights. They can only appeal to the practical sense and generosity of the Estonians. 70

Such a passage from a would-be liberal author represents a perfect example of the pattern of thinking that Stuart J. Kaufman has characterised as encouraging the growth of mass hostility and provoking a security dilemma. 71 The Estonian political elite continually refuses to recognise the Russian part of society as a partner or as full-fledged members. Moreover, the repeated ‘demands for loyalty’ raise the question: to whom are the Russians expected to demonstrate loyalty?

Artis Pabriks not unfoundedly remarks that from the civic point of view the Baltic Russians are largely loyal residents:

[The]assumption can be made that a positive attitude towards some duties shows the particular person’s identification with the society of the country of residence. In the Baltic case frequently discussed matters are the minority’s loyalty, desire to learn the country’s language and respect towards the country’s laws. More than 90% of the Baltic Russians agree that resident of the country always or usually ought to learn the national language (Baltic Barometer 1997, 38). More than 80% are ready to pay taxes, which is the same percentage as among the native population. 72

Pabriks also mentions that the Baltic Russians (including Estonian residents) regard the future of their countries of residence positively and their attitudes do not differ from the opinions of ethnic majorities. They support different political parties and their support for nationalist politicians in Russia or old socialist ideas are clearly overestimated by local politicians and the public.

Unfortunately, these arguments do not reach their target. For the ethnic-primordialist view, the Russians must demonstrate their loyalty not to the state, and not even to society, but to the dominant ‘nation’. And their expected behaviour must include obedience, expressed gratitude for the ‘generosity’ of Estonians, and so on. In short, ‘they must know their place’. While the civic model presumes that loyal citizens have to participate in public activity, the ethnic-primordialist view interprets such activity as a clear indication of disloyalty on the part of the minority.

The public opinion polls and sociological surveys show, however, that the degree of ethnic separation and cleavages has fortunately not as yet reached the level of ethnically-based mass hostility. The society as a whole has remained more moderate and reasonable than its political elite. Of course, certain pre-conditions for mass hostility as identified by Stuart J. Kaufman do exist:

[...] a set of ethnically defined grievances, negative ethnic stereotypes, and disputes over emotional symbols. Hostility… also requires a fear (usually exaggerated) of ethnic extinction, based on threatening demographic trends and a history of domination by one group over the other. 73

But it seems that these grievances, negative stereotypes, fears etc. have not reached a crucial level among the general public. In one study, Jüri Kruusvall has examined levels of ethnic distress among people in Estonia. 74 He included numerous indicators in his survey and by using a cluster analysis he established a statistical typology of ethnic distress among Estonians and non-Estonians connected with expectations toward ethnic policy of the state.

According to Kruusvall, a relatively high level of ethnic distress is characteristic of 28% of Estonians. This involves a generalised feeling of distress caused by the large number of non-Estonians, a high level of cultural estrangement, a wish to restrict non-Estonians’ status and activities.

Moderately distressed Estonians comprise 33%, and their prevailing attitudes are related to political and social distrust together with a feeling of indignation related to ethnic issues and a fear of competition with non-Estonians.

The third and the largest group of Estonians (40%) feels least distressed in relation to non-Estonians. Some of them express a concern about the future of the Estonian language and culture, but generally this group remains tolerant toward cultural and ethnic diversity.

The Russian-speaking population is also divided into three groups based on levels of distress, but the reasons differ sharply from those among the Estonians. The most disturbed group (32%) encompasses a wide range of concerns: some of them are indignant because their aspirations for self-realisation and personal welfare are blocked by an uncertain legal status; others are worried about prospects for their children’s education, and still another group represents elderly people most concerned about social uncertainty and suspicious toward state officials.

43% of non-Estonians are only moderately distressed, but they express a similar basis for their anxiety: uncertain legal status, a lack of social guarantees, and worries about the possibilities for a good education for their children. Characteristically, a large part of this group represents the economic or intellectual elite among Russian-speakers.

The group that is least worried (25%) Kruusvall calls ‘settled and satisfied.’ It is an older and less educated cohort, which lives in regions where Estonians form a majority, and which shows a low level of achievement motivation. 75

The typology of ethnic anxiety among Estonian residents shows that the crisis of mistrust in interethnic relations is remarkably asymmetrical on two levels:

  1. The anxieties of the Estonians carry a mostly abstract character based on general attitudes, social stereotypes and representations, while the anxieties of the non-Estonians are based on more concrete reasons connected with their everyday problems and troubles.
  2. The anxiety of the Estonians and their resultant distrust are both directed toward a social group defined by its linguistic and ethnic characteristics, while the stress and distrust of the non-Estonians, or the Russians, are very clearly directed toward Estonian state institutions and their apparatus.

In addition, one can make another characteristic observation, which is that while among the most distressed Estonians the elderly and less-educated people predominate, 76 feelings of anxiety and indignation among Russians are most widespread among the middle-aged and socially more active generation. An indirect confirmation of this tendency is made by Tishkov, where he argues that among recent migrants from Estonia and Latvia to Russia, middle-age workers and people with higher education predominate. This indicates, according to Tishkov, that the process of ousting Russians from positions of Estonian and Latvian society has occurred primarily among the higher strata. 77

Table . Social Composition of Migrants from Estonia (Pskov Oblast, percentages)





Qualified workers


Unqualified workers




Source: Tishkov 1996, 112

As Jüri Kruusvall concludes:

To a certain extent, the Estonian society is at a crossroads, where the Estonians already are not hostile against particular non-Estonian individuals (whom they know and with whom they have everyday relations); while the Russians are not yet hostile against the Estonians as an ethnic group. The motion from this crossroads might be in either direction. 78

A similar forecast, or warning, is expressed by Anderson et al. They suggest that despite the fact that the Russians were more open-minded and tolerant toward Estonians than the Estonians are toward Russians, the recent developments might change the balance of feelings. ‘In independent Estonia, it was difficult for the Russians to remain flexible in their attitudes, given the impulse toward ethnic exclusivity among many Estonians’. 79 One may add that to a considerable extent this is an elite-led pattern of exclusivity, using the Stuart J. Kaufman’s definition. 80


4.2 Estonianisation of the state and political system

The commonly used excuse for this social distress and for state exclusionary policies is the widespread notion that the Russians occupied a privileged position in the former Soviet Estonia. Such an assertion represents another journalistic over-exaggeration. Sociological studies or statistics provide no valid evidence to support such claims. 81

An attempt to prove this was made by Aksel Kirch and his colleagues. They claimed that ‘the immigrants had real economic privileges and were able to get good housing almost immediately, while the native population needed to wait for decades’. 82 Remarkably, however, this was the only privilege they could discover.

Indeed, the favourable chance to obtain an apartment did present a relative advantage in the Soviet Union. On the other hand, how could an enterprise invite migrant workers to Estonia without offering them places to live? Moreover, the alleged ‘good housing’ usually meant a small flat in a so-called panel building, situated in some newly-developed neighbourhood, what could hardly be called ‘a real economic privilege’, much less in italics. It is known that most of migrants worked as miners, construction-workers, dock workers and the like. If one considers a construction-worker as ‘privileged’, then I would submit the entire concept of privilege loses any meaning.

Yet, all too often the notion of the Russians occupying a privileged position in the Soviet Union is viewed as not needing any proof and is consider as entirely self-evident. It stems from the widespread journalistic simplification that the Soviet Union was in fact the ‘Russian Empire’. While some metaphoric sense might lie behind this expression, in scientific analysis metaphors are misleading and prevent a real understanding of the essence of Soviet totalitarian rule. This essence is not a topic for detailed analysis here. One might only point to the fact that the Soviet bureaucratic elite (the nomenclatura), indeed, used several Russian national symbols to preserve its own power and to find new legitimacy and social support. But this was not in order to create a privilege position for Russians at the expense of other ethnic groups. Silver and Titma, for example, found that the scale of Soviet-era repression did not differ by nationality. Russians were as often victims as Estonians. 83 As Rogers Brubaker pointed out, ‘the Soviet Union was never organized, in theory or in practice, as a Russian nation-state’. 84 He notes, furthermore, that ‘nationalists’ complaints — and Stalin’s murderous policies — notwithstanding, the regime had no systematic policy of "nation-destroying’. 85

Andrus Park has also confirms this observation. In the final years of Soviet rule ethnic Estonians composed 62% of the population. At the same time, reports Park, the Communist Party usually allocated about 70-80% of the seats in the Supreme Soviet of the ESSR to ethnic Estonians. What was even more important, although the share of Estonians in the Communist Party of Estonia was about 50%, they were usually given 70-80% seats on the Central Committee, thus being markedly over-represented among the nomenklatura, i.e. among the real Soviet political elite. 86 Mikk Titma also notes that the Communist Party grew to the point where one in seven adult Estonians was a member. 87

And this was not a simple decorative representation. The Soviet-era elite has maintained power even after their ruling positions were challenged.

The share of ethnic Estonians in the local parliament remained generally stable as a result of the relatively free 1990 Supreme Soviet elections based on the Soviet-era electorate. There were 105 members of the Estonian Supreme Soviet after March 1990 elections, … and 75.2% of them were Estonians. 88

In independent Estonia, the elite’s ethnic composition has changed drastically. The philosophy of legal restoration and state ‘ownership’ seems to have also influenced the composition of the elites directly and in accordance with the ethnic-primordialist model and contrary to the normative theories of democratic representation. The findings by Anton Steen leave no doubts as to this:

Table Ethnic composition of elite groups. The share of Estonians (percentages)



State enterprises

Private business

Political parties/movements



Judicial system









Source: Steen 1997a, 105

Steen conducted his study in 1995. By now the picture may have slightly changed. For example, the share of Estonians in the Parliament has been reduced to 94% after the 1995 elections. But the general tendency remains, and it makes clear that the core state institutions, like the civil service, the legislative or judiciary powers, have been effectively isolated from Russian (non-Estonian) influence. And the ideology of restoration, or the ‘emotional atmosphere in society’ (as Heidmets calls it) can only to a certain degree explain such developments.

Priit Järve has drawn attention to several other characteristics of the post-Soviet transitional period. First of all, there was a lack of liberal democratic political culture in Estonia, which was compounded by the legacies of Soviet ideological indoctrination and a simplified understanding of democracy as that of majority rule. Järve continues:

A popular understanding was created that minorities have virtually no rights if they try to have their own way in areas where the majority does not allegedly approve of it, especially in political matters. According to this […] repressions could be used against minorities if they refused to agree with the majority and stubbornly followed their own course of action. Some problems with minorities in Estonia may have roots in this understanding of majority rule. 89

According to Järve, there is another significant reason why the political parties in Estonia today tend to remain ethnically biased in their principal goals, membership and popular support.

The existing nationalism draws largely from the weakness and ambiguities of the social bases of the parties. When many people have difficulties in identifying themselves in societal terms because the whole social structure is in flux, one’s national identity remains practically the only stable and convenient point of reference for various political campaigns. 90

This is particularly true in light of the fact that there is a strong indication of continuation of elites from one regime to another, as Steen has noted. More than half of the current Estonian elite is recruited among people who held high positions in the Soviet regime and who were members of the Communist Party. 91 And they are the same politicians who have made their carriers in an independent Estonia based on nationalistic slogans and feelings of historic revenge. This was not very difficult for them, since, as Vojin Dimitrijevic remarks,

Nationalism and the Bolshevik version of communism have been intimately linked by collectivism and anti-individualism; this explains the ease with which many former members of the ruling party became nationalists… 92

Other important practical reasons have only support this transformation. There were elite groups in Estonia for whom the separation model worked to their own advantage in a pure discriminatory way, that is, through excluding the minority from the re-distribution of property and thereby helping to eliminate a number of potential competitors. (See section 3.7 above) In the political field such pragmatic considerations were also at work. ‘Ruling elites are quick to grasp [the political consequences of nationality] when supporting a concept of the nation that excludes all those who would vote against them’, writes Alex Grigorievs. 93 Artis Pabriks agrees with him: ‘One of the reasons [for such behaviour] ; could be the wish on behalf of the native elites to gain control over economic and political resources’. 94

The overall inference is that minority groups, including Russians, are politically, socially, and to a growing extent economically isolated and marginalised. The Estonians occupy a dominant position practically in all spheres of society, and their elites continue their attempt to realise a state that is ‘not only national in form but also national in content’ (David Laitin). 95


4.3 Attempts to compensate for the political misrepresentation

For many Russian-speaking people the developments since 1991 were perceived as disappointing and offensive. Russian intellectuals and Popular Front activists felt deceived and betrayed. The hope of this group to serve as a bridge between Russophones and the Estonian society was ruined and their potential remained unclaimed. A report by the Open Society Institute (New York) mentions that the insensitivity demonstrated by Estonian politicians toward Russian opinions and interests helped turn many Russian activists and their supporters into a new opposition. The experience has been so embittering that many Russians are wary of again placing their trust in Estonian leaders. 96

Many Russian-speaking non-citizens are hesitating to assume the initiative and take responsibility for overcoming their citizenship predicament. There is little enthusiasm for learning the local language among middle-aged and older Russians, while younger Russophones are more receptive. But even for the latter such readiness is limited to practical reasons and is not extended toward interest or respect for, say, Estonian history, or culture. Some appear to be reluctant to adapt to the changed circumstances, while for others dissatisfaction over the inability to qualify automatically for citizenship has turned into apathy for naturalisation. There are Russian speakers who refuse as a matter of principle to go through the naturalisation process. Indeed remarkably, one can find among these people persons, who speak Estonian fluently, work in Estonian collectives, were strong supporters of the movement toward independence, but are now completely disenchanted. Formally, these people fully fall under the criteria for successive integration. However, in their disappointment with the political developments, some of them have even gone so far as to take Russian Federation citizenship.

The mood of distrust extends to moderate Russian leaders who, in the eyes of their supporters, have failed to establish a pattern of co-operation with Estonian political forces to be able to achieve real results in the protection of Russian interests. One indicator of this is the sharp decline in voter turnout during local elections. During the 1993 local elections, in which non-citizens were allowed to participate, about 170,000 resident aliens registered to cast ballots. But in the October 1996 local balloting, only about 71,000 non-citizens participated in the voter rolls. The effect was disastrous, particularly for the Russian moderate democrats. In the 64-member Tallinn City Council, their representation fell from 17 seats in 1993 to only 5 in 1996. The faction of former Intermovement activists, now called the Russian Party in Estonia, remained practically unchanged: 10 and 11 seats, respectively.

Clearly, the Russian-speaking population has demonstrated a weak organisational capacity to take up initiatives on its own. In this situation, it has only been able to respond to the situation, as Laitin notes. 97 Still, one should recall that this community and its democratic leaders were faced with a dramatic dilemma after 1991. A majority of them favoured Estonia’s independence or, at least, did not oppose it (see 2.1). So they expected, not unfoundedly, that they would participate in future nation building, and within the framework of a civic project. Therefore, leaders of the Russian Democratic Movement (established in August 1991) and the Representative Assembly (1993) 98 consistently avoided an ethnic mobilisation approach for the Russians and tried to find contacts with moderate Estonian political forces instead. Later a political party was organised on the basis of these organisations, the United People’s Party of Estonia (1995). The party programme, again, stressed civic society values and insisted that all groups should be equal before the law and the state, that they should be represented in state power structures and participate in decision-making. However, the UPP met only slack reciprocity in its attempts to create a pattern of co-operation with the Estonian political elite. In such circumstances, there was no other way for them but to collaborate with the rival and more nationalistic Russian organisations.

The latter were represented by the Russian Council (‘Russkaja Obschina’ - 1992), which united first of all ethnic Russians (as distinct from the ‘Russophones") 99 and in the beginning this group harshly attacked the Representative Assembly’s democratic leaders for their overly liberal and/or ‘pro-Estonian’ position. For the time being, though, these Russian nationalists demonstrated only limited political ability and influence. In advance of the 1995 national elections, these groups formed the Russian Party of Estonia. In turn, both the moderate and conservative Russian political forces formed a joint electoral block called ‘Our Home is Estonia’, which ended up 6 out of 101 seats in the parliament. The relationship between two parties, the United People’s Party and the Russian Party, however, remains quite tense. Moreover, this Russian faction as a whole has been mostly ignored by other factions and has been isolated in parliament. Only slight changes in this situation have begun to appear recently.

Generally, Estonian politicians and journalists do not make the effort to distinguish between the civic and nationalistic wings the Russian political community. This confusion leads to the interpretation that the civic approach is closely associated with ‘Russian demands’ as a whole, which, in turn, are associated with ‘the hand of Moscow’ in Estonian politics. The sporadic and awkward moves of Russian Federation officials ‘to support compatriots in the near abroad’ only bolster such distortions. Psychologically this is quite understandable. Since the current ideology of practically all Estonian political parties is that of ethnic nationalism, 100 they are inclined to consider the views of others also from this vantage point. It is much easier for them to find ‘a common language’ with the ideologists of Russian ethnic mobilisation than with those who try to create a dialogue on the basis of societal values. Estonian politicians and officials are even ready to allow certain collective rights for minorities, but do not intend to let anyone challenge the foundations of the ethnic-primordialist project.

Various failed attempts to set up a dialogue between Estonian officials and minorities are illustrative of this fact. Already in April 1992, just after the adoption of the Law on Citizenship, the Independent Trade-Union Centre in Narva protested the mass disenfranchisement of permanent residents and went so far as threatened to organise a political strike. The Estonian Government reacted immediately and established a special commission to discuss the matter. Leading politicians presented ‘the Estonian side’ in the commission: Marju Lauristin, Tiit Made, and others. Non-citizens were represented by members of Trade-Union Centre, together with members of the local town councils in the Northeast, as well as leaders of the Russian Democratic Movement. But the discussion led nowhere. While Russian members of the commission tried to set forth their view on civic participation, the Estonian officials and parliamentarians reiterated the principles of state restitution and talked about historic injustice toward the Estonian people. This ‘dialogue of the deaf’ went on for several months until the parliament’s vacation, and thereafter was never continued. A statement of protest published by the Russian participants was simply ignored. 101

A more promising attempt was made one year later when, upon the initiative of the Representative Assembly, the President of Estonia convened a Roundtable on Minorities on 10 July 1993 (hereafter — RT). The OSCE Mission to Estonia also took an active part in drafting the statutes of the RT. According to the Statutes, the RT would be a standing conference of representatives of ethnic minorities and stateless persons residing in Estonia and of political parties. Its goal would be to promote stability, dialogue and mutual understanding between different population groups. Initially the RT was comprised of three sides: 1) 5 members of Estonian Parliament; 2) 5 members of the Representative Assembly; and 3) 5 representatives of the Nationalities Forum. The OSCE Mission was invited to participate at the RT sessions as an observer.

One should to recall that the context for the creation of the RT was rather charged. Sharp disputes in connection with the adoption of the Law on Aliens in July 1993 had created new political tensions. 102 Local elections were also scheduled for October, in the context of which many Russian political leaders in the Northeast, who were then in power but who were not citizens, would be barred from running for office. This in a situation, where Russians or Russophones make up about 80% of that region’s population. As a result, the mayors of Narva and Sillamäe decided to challenge the Estonian authorities by threatening to establish a parallel local government. Moreover, they proclaimed a referendum for autonomy, immediately declared illegal by the Government of Estonia. The situation was dangerously close to developing into a Transdniestrian scenario as in Moldova.

Thus the first role RT had to play was to mediate between conflicting parties: the Government of Estonia and the local authorities in the Northeast. And due to these efforts a compromise decision was achieved. Estonian government agreed not to obstruct the referendum despite its illegal character, while the local authorities promised not to take any steps toward the implementation of referendum's results before a decision on the referendum’s legality would be made by the National Court. In the end, all sides held their side of the bargain. The referendum took place, while the National Court subsequently declared it illegal and the mayors accepted the Court decision. It was an impressive success and a great example of the possibility of peaceful conflict resolution even in extremely difficult and unpredictable circumstances.

During the next years the RT tried to expand on this achievement. Its credibility and influence continued to the extent the President and members of the government participated in its sessions more or less regularly. The RT developed additional recommendations concerning more specific issues, as well as invited observers and experts from different ethnic and social groups of society to attend its meeting. It worked on three levels simultaneously. Members of Parliament who also were members of the RT established a direct link with the legislature. Ministers, including the Prime Minister, were frequently invited to the sessions and could get direct information about minority opinions and suggestions. Finally, it reached out to the political powers of Estonia - parties, officials and municipalities. The working atmosphere of the RT has also gradually improved, from one characterised by mostly declarative statements and a lack of mutual understanding to a more constructive and even friendly environment between the members. Most of the RT decisions and recommendations were adopted by consensus.

Gradually, however, the RT began to face problems, which might be considered typical for such advisory bodies. The RT achieved legitimacy and reputation through its own efforts and through the skill and dedication of its key supporters. However, being primarily a forum for dialogue, the RT by definition could not solve any problem; this could only be done outside the session room. So the question whether the RT was able to reach its main purpose - to improve government and legislative policy - remains open. The lack of visible and practical results of the RT’s activity has served as the reason for growing disappointment in the institution among the public and mass media. Suspicions that for the Estonian officials the RT had 'decorative' function (mainly for international consumption) became widespread. While at international fora Estonian government officials continue to cite the RT as a proof of the existence of successful mechanism for the resolution of minority problems, in Estonian domestic political life this mechanism has been, frankly speaking, under-utilised. Both branches of power, the government and the Parliament, accept the RT’s recommendations only occasionally, if ever. More frequently they take decisions in direct contradiction with the recommendations of the RT. 103

Thus the attempts to create a permanent dialogue to compensate for Russian political under-representation have been far from sufficient. Instead, as Graham Smith has noted, Russian speakers were forced ‘to form their own parties, reflecting the emergence of ethnic bipolarity within the party political system’. 104 His arguments are similar to those of Laitin: 105 ‘the resources and opportunity structures necessary for ethnic mobilization are not sufficient enough to facilitate mass-based collective action’. 106 In his analysis, Smith also identifies a weak sense of community and the absence of political entrepreneurs among the Russians as causes for their weakness.

The point is, however, that the majority of Russian leaders have tried to avoid the ethnic mobilisation among Russians. And they have had strong reasons for that. First, there was a relatively high level of open-mindedness and tolerance among Russians, as was mentioned above (section 4.1). The behaviour of the Russian community in 1991-1992 demonstrated that these attitudes are, indeed, deeply internalised. Second, one may reiterate the fact that the political attitudes and values of the Russian leaders themselves were directed toward a civic model of nation building (i.e. toward integration and mutual accommodation), where no emphasis was placed on ethnic mobilisation.

There is no need to appeal to Russians to be moderate, tolerant or patient; they have already showed that they were, and still are, tolerant and patient. They have done a great deal to prevent open conflict, or to manage it in a suitable manner. But, as Laitin and Smith both correctly note, the Russians could only play ‘a number-two role’ given the current circumstances. The causes for conflict have in reality come from the decisions made by the Estonian political elite; the Estonians occupy a dominant position in the society and thus are most responsible for conflict prevention and the development of the state.


4.2 Recent attempts to change the course: a strategy for integration

This situation, where Estonia represents a society of ethnic separation rather than ethnic integration, has been recognised by a growing number of observers. This recognition has helped also to start a change in Estonia’s domestic political discourse. When several years ago Russian democrats tried to draw attention to these societal rifts (particularly at the international fora), this prompted Estonian representatives to fly into rage, as Hanne-Margret Birckenbach has remarked. ‘The mere suspicion that they might offend against international standards seems […] contradictory to the way they see themselves’. 107 The studies of Estonia quoted above 108 were mostly ignored by Estonian policy-makers, along with even individual works by Estonian authors. 109 Estonia’s official position was that there was no evidence of systematic infringement of human rights in the country, that this has been recognised several times by international official observers and experts and, therefore, there is no reason to change anything in Estonian minority policy. Some secondary problems might exist but their importance was secondary and not fundamental.

Certainly, this optimistic self-evaluation was never entirely true. There were numerous critical statements and particular recommendations made by fact-finding missions and individual experts concerning the situation in Estonia. A collection of these reports has been published by Hanne-Margret Birckenbach. 110 In another paper she points out:

Despite their different evaluation of the human rights aspects, fact-finding missions did not fail to establish relevant facts. […] They agreed that the domestic situation in Estonia and Latvia should under no circumstances remain as they found it. They considered it to be dysfunctional, dangerous and unjust, even if it was in harmony with the spirit (perhaps more precisely with the letter — A. S.) of the international human rights system. […] Reforms were found to be necessary that would lead to the integration of non-citizens into Estonian and Latvian society. 111

Perhaps the crucial impulse for a re-consideration of ethnic policy by the Estonian elite was the European Union’s ‘Agenda 2000’ report on Estonia’s application for membership (1997). The human-dimension part of the report typically evaluated the situation in Estonia as positive, but suggested that Estonia needs to adopt measures and procedures to enable the Russian-speaking population to become better integrated into Estonian society. Thus the problem of integration now appeared in the agenda officially.

For different individuals, however, this notion of integration has mean quite different things, from total assimilation (i.e. absolute ‘Estonisation’) to development of complete segregation. For some, even not the most radical, nationalists integration means the permanent confirmation of ‘loyalty’, as was expressed by Rein Taagepera and his co-authors in the UNDP ‘Setting the course’ report on integration (see section 2.2 above). Fortunately, the Estonian government disregarded many of the opinions in this report, which indicates that the government treats the problem seriously. Instead, another and more competent group of experts was brought together to prepare a new document entitled ‘The Integration of Non-Estonians into Estonian Society: The Principles of Estonia’s National Integration Policy’. This document was adopted by the government on 10 February 1998 and is to become the basis for a comprehensive state programme.

The document draws on the position expressed by one of its principal authors, Mati Heidmets, that the established situation in Estonia might be defined as ‘two societies in one country’. 112 This situation manifests itself in the alienation of an appreciable number of non-Estonians from Estonian society and their self-isolation in their own world. The document also cites as the main reason for this development the principle of state restoration. In a separate publication, Heidmets predicts that if this paradigm and separation will continue, "it will sooner or later become a real danger for [ Estonian] national security and a barrier for rapid development’. 113

The main points of Estonia’s national policy as presented in the government programme are as follows:

Furthermore, the programme identifies several main goals for minority policy. These include 1) the goal that the attitude ‘non-Estonians as a problem’ must be replaced by the attitude ‘non-Estonians as participants’; 2) a significant reduction in the number of persons with ‘undetermined citizenship’; 114 3) the reduction of regional isolation of non-Estonians; and 4) political integration of non-Estonian Estonian citizens into governmental bodies. In short, as the last item of the programme states,

Integration means the engagement of persons in community life at all levels. Integration is not a change in ethnic identity, but the removal of barriers, which hinder many non-Estonians from participation fully in Estonian community life.

Thus at first glance the approach expressed in the official conception of integration presents a real attempt to switch the nation-building paradigm from the ethnic model to a civic one. Doubt arises, however, when one closely reads the title of the document, i.e ‘Integration… into Estonian Society’. The title of a similar document in Latvia, for example, reads ‘The integration of Latvian society’. This latter formulation is, obviously, more in line with the civic approach.

A deeper look shows that this is more than a mere poor choice of words. For when Heidmets tries to envision the outcome of the integration process, he calls for ‘some kind of Estonian version of an open multicultural society’ (emphasis in the original) 115 . The three essential characteristics of this model are:

A focus on individuals. The Estonian version of multiculturalism can not rely on legally fixed group rights, but first of all on the free choices of individuals, and a cultivation of tolerance and openness in society.

Strong common cultural core [of all participants]. The author means shared values and attitudes, accepted models in everyday life.

Estonian culture dominance. Since the idea of the Estonian state is to preserve and develop the Estonian cultural space, a privileged status for Estonian culture will have to be present. 116

I would submit that this envisioned outcome represents an essential contradiction in the author’s way of thinking. How can the institutionalised predominance accorded to a particular culture correspond with the integration of an open multicultural society? Compare, for example, the definition of integration by Artis Pabriks:

Integration for me is a reasonable collective pluralism, which does not undermine interests of the overall society but considers the individual to be a key value of a modern society. […] Integration focuses on the political nation as the ultimate end of policy. 117

Moreover, how can the ‘privileged status of the Estonian culture element’ be guaranteed without the institutionalisation of political and legal dominance for the Estonians as a group? Quite doubtfully, I would argue. Thus, when one re-reads the text of the Programme from this perspective, one finds that the concept as a whole represents a prolongation of the ethnic orientation of Estonian nation building. Contrary to the civic approach, the Programme is based on ethnicity. Citizens, for example, are divided into ‘ethnic Estonians’ and ‘non-Estonian Estonian citizens’; who, in turn, together with ‘non-ethnic Estonian non-citizens’ compose a single group of ‘non-Estonians’, i.e. outsiders. This group must integrate into Estonian society, but not to the extent when they may challenge the privileged position of ethnic Estonians. It is not surprising, then, that the active participation of non-Estonians, that is declared in the document, is supposed to limit itself to the educational and societal level, but non-Estonians themselves are not considered as a partner for political integration on a non-discriminatory basis.

Incidentally, the authors thoroughly avoid the term ‘non-discrimination’, together with such conceptions as human rights or minority rights. These terms are absent in their lexicon. The possible reason might be the fact that they are mostly social scientists, not lawyers or human rights experts. There is no mention of any reforms in the legal or political system either. Yet, while the principal objective of integration is defined as ‘the removal of barriers, which hinder many non-Estonians from full participation in Estonian society’, the question arises, what are these barriers that the authors (and the Government) intend to remove?

Still, one should refrain from stating that the document is completely unfortunate; as a matter of fact it is rather promising in many respects, particularly taking into account the current situation of inter-ethnic discourse in Estonia. A recent critique of the programme made by Hanne-Margret Birckenbach is, perhaps, too severe. 118 The authors of the programme were most likely sincere in their good intentions.

However, their efforts were able to produce unfortunately only a softer and more liberal version of the same ethnic democracy project described above by Graham Smith. 119 This is not a real change of the paradigm; and one must agree with Birckenbach that this concept launched by the Government and its experts is based in fact on ethnic priorities and continues to represent ethnically-based nation building. Therefore, the prospect for accepting a civic approach to nation building in Estonia remains open.



Adorno, T. W., Frenkel-Brunswik, Else, Levinson, Daniel J., Sanford, R. Nevitt 1950. The Authoritarian Personality. New York: Harper.

Andersen, Erik Andre 1997a. ‘The Legal Status of Russians in Estonian Privatisation Legislation 1989-1995’. Europe-Asia Studies, 49, 2, pp. 303-316.

Andersen, Erik Andre 1997b. ‘An ethnically divided society was promoted by privatisation in Estonia’. Paper presented for the conference ‘Transformation and Integration in the Baltic Sea Area and the Barents Area’. European Law Centre and Umea University. Umea, Sweden, 15-19 November.

Andersen, Erik Andre 1999. An Ethnic Perspective on Economic Reform. The case of Estonia. Aldershot/Brookfield: Ashgate.

Anderson, Barbara A., Silver, Brian D., Titma, Mikk, and Ponarin, Eduard D. 1996. ‘Estonian and Russian Communities’. International Journal of Sociology, VOL. 26, NO. 2 (SUMMER), pp. 25-45.

Birckenbach, Hanne-Margret 1997a. Preventive Diplomacy through Fact-Finding. How international organisations review the conflict over citizenship in Estonia and Latvia. Hamburg: Lit.

Birckenbach, Hanne-Margret 1997b. ‘Preventive Diplomacy: Conclusions from international intervention into the Estonian and Latvian Conflicts over citizenship’. SCHIFF-texte, 44, (October), Kiel.

Birckenbach, Hanne-Margret 1998. ‘From dividing conflict to integration’. Paper presented at the ECMI Baltic seminar ‘Minorities and Majorities in Estonia: Problems of Integration at the Threshold of the EU’. Flensburg, Germany and Aabenraa, Denmark, 22-25 May 1998.

Brubaker, Rogers 1992. ‘Citizenship Struggles in the Soviet Successor States’. International Migration Review, 26, 2, pp. 269-291.

Brubaker, Rogers 1994. ‘Nationhood and the National Question in the Soviey Union and Post-Soviet Eurasia: An Institutional Account’. Theory and Society, 23, pp. 47-78.

Dimitrijevic, Vojin 1995. The Fate of Non-Members of Dominant Nations in Post-Communist European Countries. Jean Monnet Chair Papers, European University Institute.

Eide, Asbjorn 1992. ‘Human Rights Aspects of the Citizenship Issues in Estonia and Latvia.’ European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

Progress Report 11 May 1992.

Estonia and Latvia: Citizenship, Language and Conflict prevention. 1997. A Special Report by the Forced Migration Project. New York: The Open Society Institute.

Estonian Human Development Report 1997. UNDP.

Estonian Human Development Report 1998. UNDP.

Estonia’s experiment - The Possibilities to Integrate Non-Citizens into the Estonian Society (a research report) 1997. Tartu: Tartu University Market Research Team.

Estonia’s Non-Citizens: A Survey of Attitudes to Migration and Integration (a study report) 1997. Budapest: Migration Information Programme, International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Grigorievs, Alex 1996. ‘The Baltic Predicament’. In: Caplan, Richard and Feffer, John 1996 (eds.). Europe’s New Nationalism. States and Minorities in Conflict, New York-Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 120-137.

Hallik, Klara 1998. ‘From Minority Consciousness to Nation-Statehood: Estonian Political Parties on Ethnic Issues’. In: Heidmets (ed.) 1998.

Hallik, Klara and Kirch, Marika 1992. ‘On Interethnic Relations in Estonia’. Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli.

Heidmets, Mati (ed.) 1998. Vene Küsimus ja Eesti Valikud. (Russian Minority and Challenges for Estonia.) Tallinn: Tallinna Pedagoogikaülikool.

Heidmets, Mati 1998. ‘Options for Estonia in 1998’. In: Heidmets, Mati (ed.) 1998.

Holm-Hansen, Jorn 1997. ‘Political Integration in Kazakstan’. In: Kolstoe, Paul (ed.), Nation Building and Ethnic Integration in bipolar post-Soviet societies: the cases of Latvia and Kazakstan.

Jarve, Priit 1995. ‘Transition to Democracy’. Nationalities Papers, 23, 1, pp. 19-27.

Järve, Priit 1999. ‘Estonia and Integration’. In: International conference ‘The Integration of National Communities in Ida-Virumaa in Estonian Society’. Jõhvi, 26-28 December 1998. Collection of materials. Tallinn: Disantrek, 247-253.

Kask, Peet 1994. ‘National Radicalization in Estonia: Legislation on Citizenship and Related Issues’, Nationalities Papers, 22, 2, pp. 379-391.

Kaufman, Stuart J. 1996. ‘Spiraling to Ethnic War.’ International Security, 21, 2, (Fall), pp. 108-138.

Kirch, Aksel, Kirch, Maarika, and Tuisk, Tarmo 1992. The Non-Estonian Population Today and Tomorrow. A Sociological Overview. Tallinn: Estonian Academy of Science.

Kirch, Aksel; Kirch, Marika; Tuisk, Tarmo 1997.’ Vene noorte etnilise ja kultuurilise identiteedi muutused aastatel 1993-1996’. In: P. Järve (Ed). Vene noored Eestis: sotsioloogiline mosaiik. Tartu Ülikool, Kirjastus ‘Avita’, Tallinn.

Kirde-Eesti Linnaelanike Suhtumine Eesti Reformidesse ja Sotsiaalpoliitikasse. 1993, 1994 ja 1995 aasta võrdlev analüüs. 1995. Tartu: Tartu Ülikooli Turu- uurimisrühm. (Research Report ‘The Attitudes of Northeast Urban Residents toward Estonian Reforms and Social Policy. A comparative analysis 1993, 1994 and 1995 years.’ Tartu: Tartu University Market Research Team.

Kollist, Andres 1998. ‘Kodakonsuse seaduse muutmise seaduse eelnõu kohta. Paper presented to the conference ‘Kodakonsus ja lapsed Eestis’. Tallinn, Presidential Round Table, Forced Migration Project, Open Society Institute.

Kolstoe, Paul 1995. Russians in the Former Soviet Republics. London: Hurst & Company.

Kolstoe, Paul 1996a. ‘Nation-Building in the Former USSR’. ‘Journal of Democracy’, 7, 1 (January), pp. 118-132.

Kolstoe, Paul 1996b. ‘The new Russian diaspora — an identity of its own? Possible identity trajectories for Russians in the former Soviet republic.’ Ethnic and Racial Studies, 19, 3, (July), pp. 609-639.

Kruusvall, Juri 1998. ‘Usaldus ja Usaldumatus Rahvussuhetes’. (Thrust and Distrust in Interethnic Relations). In: Heidmets (ed.) 1998.

Laitin, David D. 1993/1994. ‘The Russian-Speaking Nationality in Estonia: Two Quasi-Constitutional Elections’. EECR, 2, 4 (Fall) / 3, 1 (Winter).

Laitin, David D. 1998. Identity in Formation. The Russian-Speaking Populations in the Near Abroad. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.

Lake, David A., and Rothchild, Donald 1996. ‘Containing Fear. The Origins and Management of Ethnic Conflict’. International Security, 21, 2, (Fall), pp. 41-75.

Linz, Juan J. and Stepan, Alfred 1996. Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation. Baltimore and London: The Hopkins University Press.

Müllerson, Rein 1994. International Law, Rights and Politics. Developments in Eastern Europe and the CIS. London and New York: Routledge.

Oomen, T.K. 1997. ‘Citizenship, Nationality and Ethnicity’. Polity Press.

Pabriks, Artis 1998. The Future of the Baltic Russians. Paper presented to the ASN 3rd Annual Convention, Columbia University, New York.

Park, Andrus 1995. ‘Ethnicity and Independence : the Case of Estonia in Comparative Perspective’. Proc. Estonian Acad. Sci. Humanities and Social Scienties, 44, 3, pp. 302-322.

Pettai, Vello 1996. ‘The Situation of Ethnic Minorities in Estonia’. In: Opalski, Magda and Dutkiewicz, Piotr (eds.). Ethnic Minority Rights in Central Eastern Europe. Ottawa: Canadian Human Rights Foundation; Forum Eastern Europe.

Raudsepp, Maaris. 1998. ‘Rahvusküsimus Ajakirjanduse Peeglis’. (Representations of Interethnic Relations in the Media). In: Heidmets (ed.) 1998.

Report of the UN Human Rights Committee. GA 49 Session, Supplement no. 40 (A/49/40), General Comment under Art. 40, of the ICCPR, No. 23 (50) (art. 27) 2/, 3/

Rose, Richard and Maley, William 1994. ‘Conflict or Compromise in the Baltic States?’ International Relations, 3, 28 (15 July), pp. 26-35.

Rothschild, Joseph 1981. Ethnopolitics. A Conceptual Framework. New York: Columbia University Press.

Semjonov, Aleksei and Barabaner, Khanon 1994. ‘Estonskaia respublika i ieio "negrazhdane". Rossiiskii Bulleten’ po pravam cheloveka, 4, (1994), pp. 110-120.

Silver, Brian D. and Titma, Mikk 1996a. ‘Estonia on the Eve of Independence’. International Journal of Sociology, VOL. 26, NO. 1 (SPRING), pp. 7-19.

Silver, Brian D. and Titma, Mikk 1996b. ‘Support for an Independent Estonia’. International Journal of Sociology, VOL. 26, NO. 2 (SUMMER), pp. 3-24.

Smith, Graham 1996. ‘The Ethnic Democracy Thesis and the Citizenship Question in Estonia and Latvia’. Nationalities Papers, 24, 2, pp. 199-216.

Steen, Anton (ed.) 1997. Ethnicity and Politics in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Oslo: University of Oslo.

Steen, Anton 1997a. ‘Cleavages structures, Elites and Democracy in Post Communist Countries. The Case of the Baltic States’. In: Steen, Anton (ed.) 1997.

Steen, Anton 1997b. ‘The New Elites in the Baltic States: Recirculation and Change.’ Scandinavian Political Studies, 20, 1, pp. 91-112.

Taagepera, Rein 1992. ‘Ethnic Relations in Estonia’, Journal of Baltic Studies, XXIII, no. 2, (Summer 1992), pp. 121-132.

Taagepera, Rein 1993. Estonia. Return to Independence. Boulder: Westview Press.

Tishckov, Valery A. (ed.) 1996. Migratsii i Novye Diaspory v Postsovetskih gosudarstvah. Moscow.

Titma, Mikk 1996. ‘Estonia: A Country in Transition’. International Journal of Sociology, VOL. 26, NO. 1 (SPRING), pp. 44-75.

Varennes, Fernand de 1998. ‘Towards Effective Political Participation and Representation of Minorities’. Working Paper to the Fourth Session of the UN Working Group of Minorities.

Wallerstein, Immanuel 1997. ‘Integration to What? Marginalization from What?’ Keynote Address at 19th Nordiske Sociologkongres, 13-15 June 1997, Copenhagen: "Integration and Marginalization."



Note 1: A chapter for the collective monograph "Estonia and Moldova: Nation Building, Ethnic Conflict, and Integration". Research project of the University of Oslo, Pal Kolstoe (ed.).  Back.

Note 2: Dimitrijevic 1995, 13.  Back.

Note 3: Presented in Linz and Stepan 1996, 413.  Back.

Note 4: Semjonov and Barabaner 1994, 119. The calculation was made in co-operation with Oleg Samorodnii.  Back.

Note 5: Silver and Titma 1996b, 8.  Back.

Note 6: Hallik 1998, 276.  Back.

Note 7: Igor Shepelevich, one of the leaders of the OSTK, was arrested the next day after Rubiks in Latvia for alleged pro-putsch activity. But no evidence was ever produced and he was soon released without a court trial.  Back.

Note 8: Hallik 1998, 276.  Back.

Note 9: Raudsepp 1998, 126.  Back.

Note 10: Kask 1994, 382.  Back.

Note 11: Ibid., 382-383. 387.  Back.

Note 12: Raudsepp 1998.  Back.

Note 13: Ibid., 130.  Back.

Note 14: Kask 1994, 389.  Back.

Note 15: Ibid., 387.  Back.

Note 16: Ibid., 389.  Back.

Note 17: Hallik 1998, 277.  Back.

Note 18: See, for example, the document entitled 'Integrating Non-Estonians into Estonian Society: Setting the Course' (1997). Professor Taagepera was the main and principal author of the document, prepared under the aegis of UNDP. 'The Estonian mindset' and 'loyalty' are the most frequently used concepts in this 'Setting the Course'. (34 times, to be precise.) Remarkably, the word 'rights' was used only 4 times (!) and twice in one sentence.  Back.

Note 19: See, for instance, Kirch, Kirch and Tuisk 1997, 55-59.  Back.

Note 20: Quoted in: Dimitrijevic 1995, 24, footnote 43.  Back.

Note 21: Hallik 1998, 277-278.  Back.

Note 22: Resolution on the National Independence of Estonia. In: Restoration of the Independence of the Republic of Estonia. Selection of Legal Acts. Tallinn, 1991.  Back.

Note 23: Müllerson 1994, 146.  Back.

Note 24: For further details see Andersen 1999, 206-211.  Back.

Note 25: Eide 1992, item 11.  Back.

Note 26: Ibid., item 12.  Back.

Note 27: Ibid., item 14.  Back.

Note 28: Riigi Teataja, No. 2, 1991, 18  Back.

Note 29: Kolstoe 1995, 125.  Back.

Note 30: Eide 1992, item 15.  Back.

Note 31: Kolstoe 1995, 125.  Back.

Note 32: Riigi Teataja, No. 8, March 1991, 189.  Back.

Note 33: Rahva Hääl., 26 September 1992, 2.  Back.

Note 34: Varennes 1998, 10.  Back.

Note 35: Müllerson 1994, 147-148.  Back.

Note 36: Järve 1999, 249.  Back.

Note 37: Pettai 1996; Park 1995; Raun 1994.  Back.

Note 38: Kollist 1998.  Back.

Note 39: Riigi Teataja, No. 12, 1995.  Back.

Note 40: Park 1995, 357.  Back.

Note 41: Riigi Teataja, No. 44, 1993.  Back.

Note 42: Andersen 1997a, 305.  Back.

Note 43: Riigi Teataja, No. 64, 1993; Riigi Teataja, No. 46, 1994.  Back.

Note 44: Andersen 1999, 224.  Back.

Note 45: The Law provides certain facilitating provisions for very old persons (born before 1930), but this facilitation is negligible and insignificant.  Back.

Note 46: Estonia's Non-Citizens 1997.  Back.

Note 47: Kruusval 1998, 27  Back.

Note 48: Nottebohm Case, ICJ Reports 1955, 23.  Back.

Note 49: Estonia's Non-Citizens 1997, 19.  Back.

Note 50: Quoted in: Grant 1993.  Back.

Note 51: Report of the HR Committee, 49 Session, Supplement No. 49 (A/49/40), 107-110.  Back.

Note 52: Commissioner of the CBSS, Annual Report June 1997 - June 1998, 14.  Back.

Note 53: OSCE HCNM Max van der Stoel. Letter to Mr. Lennart Meri, President of the Republic of Estonia of 19 December 1998. Helsinki Monitor, vol. 10 No 1, 1999.  Back.

Note 54: The commissioner of the CBSS Annual Report, June 1998 - June 1999, p.62 (emphasis added).  Back.

Note 55: OSCE HCNM Max van der Stoel. Letter to Mr. Lennart Meri, President of the Republic of Estonia of 19 December 1998. Helsinki Monitor, vol. 10 No 1, 1999.  Back.

Note 56: The commissioner of the CBSS Annual Report, June 1998 - June 1999, 64.  Back.

Note 57: Holm-Hansen 1997, 169.  Back.

Note 58: Dimitrijevic 1995, 14.  Back.

Note 59: Pettai 1996, 47.  Back.

Note 60: Kolstoe 1995, 136.  Back.

Note 61: Andersen 1997a. For more details see recently published Andersen 1999.  Back.

Note 62: Ibid., 303.  Back.

Note 63: Ibid., 304.  Back.

Note 64: Ibid., 314.  Back.

Note 65: EHDR 1997, 13.  Back.

Note 66: Heidmets 1998, 287. Back.

Note 67: Estonia: stolichnye zhiteli.Moscow, 1995. Quoted in: Tishkov 1996, 111.  Back.

Note 68: Anderson et al., 41.  Back.

Note 69: Heidmets 1998, 288.  Back.

Note 70: Postimees, 21 September 1998.  Back.

Note 71: Kaufman 1996, 109.  Back.

Note 72: Pabriks 1998, 4.  Back.

Note 73: Kaufman 1996, 109. Back.

Note 74: Kruusvall 1998.  Back.

Note 75: Ibid., 272-274.  Back.

Note 76: Ibid., 272.  Back.

Note 77: Tishkov 1996, 112.  Back.

Note 78: Kruusvall 1998, 60-61. Emphasis in the original.  Back.

Note 79: Anderson et al. 1996, 44.  Back.

Note 80: Kaufman 1996, 109.  Back.

Note 81: See, for instance, Hallik and Kirch 1992, 156.  Back.

Note 82: Kirch, Kirch and Tuisk 1992, 5. Emphasis in the original.  Back.

Note 83: Silver and Titma 1996a, 17.  Back.

Note 84: Brubaker 1994, 51.  Back.

Note 85: Ibid., 58.  Back.

Note 86: Park 1995, 308.  Back.

Note 87: Titma 1996, 55.  Back.

Note 88: Park 1995, 309.  Back.

Note 89: Jarve 1995, 25.  Back.

Note 90: Ibid., 24.  Back.

Note 91: Steen 1997a, 102..  Back.

Note 92: Dimitrijevic 1995, 8.  Back.

Note 93: Pabrols 1998. 9.  Back.

Note 94: Pabriks 1998, 9.  Back.

Note 95: Laitin 1998, 350.  Back.

Note 96: Estonia and Latvia 1997, 66; Kolstoe 1995, 127-134.  Back.

Note 97: Laitin 1998, 350.  Back.

Note 98: See also Kolstoe 1995, 129-131.  Back.

Note 99: Ibid, 130.  Back.

Note 100: Hallik 1998; see also section 2.1 above.  Back.

Note 101: 'Process poshelŠ i vernulsia'. Sillamiaeskii Vestnik, 27 June 1992.  Back.

Note 102: See 3.2 above.  Back.

Note 103: For instance, in cases of the new Law on Citizenship (1995); Law on the Ratification of the Framework Convention for the Protection of Minorities (1997); Amendments to the Law on Basic and Upper Secondary Schools; etc.  Back.

Note 104: Smith 1996, 212.  Back.

Note 105: Laitin 1998, 350.  Back.

Note 106: Smith 1996, 207.  Back.

Note 107: Birckenbach 1997a, 21-22.  Back.

Note 108: Laitin 1993/1994; Laitin 1998; Brubaker 1994; Kolstoe 1995; Smith 1996; Andersen 1997; etc.  Back.

Note 109: Kask 1994; Jarve 1995; Park 1995.  Back.

Note 110: Birckenbach 1997a.  Back.

Note 111: Birckenbach 1997b, 12.  Back.

Note 112: Heidmets 1998, 288.  Back.

Note 113: Ibid., 289.  Back.

Note 114: The commonly used Estonian euphemism for stateless persons.  Back.

Note 115: Heidmets 1998, 290.  Back.

Note 116: Ibid., 291.  Back.

Note 117: Pabricks 1998, 7.  Back.

Note 118: Birckenbach 1998, 16. Birckenbach writes: 'It obviously tries to put some sand in the eyes of some experts [...] to present certain evidence that something is done in order to respond to international concerns'.  Back.

Note 119: Smith 1996; see also above, section 1  Back.