Anti-Enemy Mania Part 2: The Baltic States
How the Baltics Are Intentionally Making Living With Their Russian Minorities Impossible
“At the time there were many Gauls and Germans actually living in Rome, some serving in the Praetorian Guard, and others residing there for various reasons. Augustus feared that these might start an uprising, and so despatched those who were serving in his bodyguard to various islands, and ordered those who were unarmed to leave the capital.”
- Cassius Dio [56.23]Early on in the Russia-Ukraine War I wrote a piece on Anti-Enemy Mania, and the way war brings out absurd cultural hatred. It was mostly about the sillier aspects of trying to exclude Russia from human affairs, such as banning Russian cats from international competitions. However, as the abject failure of the West’s sanction’s regime becomes more clear, European states are beginning to take much more desperate, nefarious, and counterproductive actions against the Russian people as a whole- both ethnic Russians and Russian nationals. Not only are Finland [which I’m counting as a Baltic state for the purpose of this article], Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania taking action against Russian nationals entering their country, Estonia and Latvia are taking Ukraine-style punitive action against the Russian minorities which make up 25% of their populations. This is both unjust [I remember when “collective punishment” was routinely condemned] and unwise. As I’ve explained before, Putin considers himself the leader of the Russian people and has little tolerance for the suppression of ethnic Russians and their language. Beyond that, however, Estonia’s Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has admitted that NATO considers the Baltics indefensible, and these tiny countries led by humans who should know better are acting like a chihuahua agitating a pit bull. This deranged hatred of the Russian people as a whole is highly unlikely to end well for anyone, as well as being quite the bad look for the Baltic states which take so much pride in being “liberal democracies,” unlike Russia.
To start with, I feel I should share some of an exchange I got in with one of those NAFO idiots on Twitter [a troll group with dog profile pictures who basically just organize reporting accounts.] This all started when I said, “I love how racist you people are,” laughing at his insanity:
I realize this person is ostensibly Georgian, and also just some idiot on the internet, but its indicative of a growing trend of arguing that the invasion represents inherent aspect of the nefarious Russian character, and that the Russian people as a whole are the problem [amusingly, he called me a “woke leftist” for saying that was racist, as well as a “crybully,” and said I was “playing the victim” and “gaslighting” because I kept laughing at him and calling him deranged.] The most absurd part of holding ethnic Russians in general responsible is that we are constantly told Russia is not a democracy, and that all dissent is suppressed, so what are they supposed to do? What’s more, we are constantly told that we could not overthrow our government with our weapons, so how, then, would the disarmed Russian public possibly overthrow theirs? In short, based on the things we are supposed to believe about the Russian government, leaving Russia is the only meaningful option for a Russian who does not want to support his country’s war. Despite that Russia’s war is accused of being genocidal [which it absolutely is not, this is just what war is like], I see a far more genocidal attitude about Russians coming from the other side. Regardless, trapping them in Russia where they can pay taxes and be conscripted to fight in Ukraine is the big brain energy coming from Europe’s leaders:
Finland’s reckless party girl Prime Minister Sanna Marin has been leading the charge to force Russians to stay in Russia and support the war. She says she doesn’t think it’s right for Russians to go “Sightseeing” in Europe while their government “kills people in Ukraine.” Those things are definitely related, and so instead they should spend their money supporting Russia’s tourist industry which is presumably supposed to be suffering from a lack of European tourists. I know I should be used to it by now, but it’s still hard to withstand the way Western political leaders never apply the most cursory logic to the things they say and do. However, Helsinki is waiting for “clarification” from the European Commission about if they can ban Russians holding passports from other countries within the EU. I take this to mean that they intend to also force dual citizens to stay in Russia. Many wealthy Russians also hold what are called “Golden Passports” which they get by investing large amounts of money in European economies. Presumably they are now supposed to stay in Russia and invest their money in the economy Europe seeks to destroy.
Not to be outdone, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are also coordinating to bar the entry of Russians. It’s unclear what they expect this to accomplish, though with the 25% Russian populations of the former two states, something like this means people won’t be able to see their dying babushkas, which I suppose after two years of covid insanity is the “new normal.” Once again, being as we’re told they’re under the rule of a tyrant, and this is something the Baltic states are doing not something Putin is doing, it’s unclear what the people harmed by this policy can or will be able to do to weaken Putin’s grip on power. I can’t stop being struck by the fact that in the first Cold War the USSR was trapping people in, and in the second Cold War Europe is shutting people out. Being as now the Russians are traditionalists and Europe is Godless, it seems as if all is truly inverted.
Not content to just to cripple their own tourist revenue, Estonia’s new anti-Russia coalition government has decided to cancel the student visas of Russian college students. The Estonian Association of Student Unions opposed the move, with Times Higher Education reporting:
“But the Estonian Association of Student Unions (EYL) has strongly opposed the visa ban and said the “rigid approach” would mean some students would be unable to finish their courses.
The union questioned “what kind of positive effect the expulsion of students already obtaining higher education from the country has”, as it will “not particularly affect” either country, but would have a “very significant impact” on the several hundred students midway through courses.”
Indeed, they are just maliciously harming individual people. One dissident student, Daniil Martikainen-Jarlukovski, said that returning to Russia would almost certainly mean death, being drafted, or torture and imprisonment. That is to say, these idiots are sending back Russians of military age where they can be forced to serve in Russia’s armed forces. Any sensible policy aimed at harming Russia’s war effort would try to reduce the number of people available to serve in Russia’s military. He further stated, “Many students like me already have taken part in fighting against Putin, perhaps we could one day lead a post-Putin Russian state, but for that we need help and not tickets to certain death.” Though I’ve written before about why you shouldn’t trust exiles, forcing them to return to the rule of your enemy is a profoundly irrational course of action. It’s hard to judge this decision as anything but the Estonian government being blinded by fear and hatred in a time which requires extreme prudence.
So much for the moves to ban Russian nationals from Europe. The much darker trend is Estonia and Latvia cracking down on the 25% of their populations who are ethnic Russians and their history, language, and culture. Take, for example, this 79 meter obelisk commemmorating those who died fighting the Nazis which was senselessly destroyed in Riga:
I can understand not wanting statues of Stalin, but this lovely monument was to the common soldier who helpted to defeat fascism. A person whose parents or grandparents died in the war is not going to take this lightly. This DW video claims that it may help them “heal from the scars of the past” but I’m quite sure they senselessly tore open old wounds. They even banned celebrating the victory in WW2 this year, and arrested a man for doing so...so much for free speech. It’s also noteworthy for people who claim that Ukraine’s government and military does not have a Nazi problem to go around destroying monuments commemorating the defeat of the Nazis in solidarity with Ukraine. It seems as if they could have simply removed the stars which are the only thing which make it explicitly Soviet, but given their demonization of a minority group perhaps it truly is the Nazis whom they admire.
Latvian President Egils Levits has said genuinely scary and illiberal things about the Russian population, accusing them of being a sort of Fifth Column within Estonian society. He said, “We see that some of the Russian community is disloyal to our country… Our task is to deal with them, to isolate them… They should simply be isolated.” Perhaps they should put them in ghettos. He further did a Bush-ian “With us or against us,” telling them to “Pick sides,” because early 2000s neo-conservatism is all the rage now.
There really aren’t huge barriers to returning to Russia, so you have to imagine most Russians who continued to live in Latvia did so because it’s their home and they like it there. He went on to praise Latvia becoming “more nationalistic” since the invasion, because all is inverted now and apparently nationalism is no longer evil for anyone who supports the West.
Meanwhile, of course, since Hungary has chosen a middle course, it is still a dangerous far-right government.
In college I had a professor who specialized in Post-Colonialism, which is essentially Critical Race Theory applied to the one area where its broadly true [because Colonialism is actually a system whereby a racialized group creates an oppressive power structure to control another racialized group.] He liked to talk about the concept of the “Post-Colonial Nightmare,” something which he discussed in the most absurd, abstract, and academic way possible. However, this is a real concept, where the descendants of colonizers face horrors once their country of origin loses power. Some examples include the th excellent novel Wide Sargasso Sea by British-West Indian author Jean Rhys, where their house is burnt down in a riot, British-African Aidan Hartlay’s wonderful memoir The Zanzibar Chest where his family’s home is burnt down in a riot, and French-African director Claire Denis’ film White Material where a plantation owning family is attacked by Africans during a riot. This kind of demonization of the descendants of the former imperial power can turn dangerous quickly. The one thing the Russians have going for them is at 25% they are a lot more of the population than Europeans in Africa or the West Indies, and further, as far as I know they are not of an unusually high economic status and thus are not the subject of envy nor can they be blamed for poverty [in fact, the Baltic states are more prosperous than Russia.] Nothing good comes from accusing 25% of your population of disloyalty and trying to isolate them, be they ethnic Russians or MAGA Republicans. It’s also clear that treating Russians in this way will make them less loyal to Latvia, and see Russia as their only salvation, so in a way he’s turning them into the thing he is accusing them of.
As I’ve covered before, until earlier this summer, Estonia’s government included the ethnic Russian Center Party in its coalition. This party had previously had formal ties with Putin’s United Russia, however it broke them after the invasion of Ukraine. When that government fell apart, allegedly over education and welfare issues but clearly actually over Ukraine policy, an anti-Russia coalition government took power. One of their first acts was to work to end Russian language education within the country. A Minister named Reinsalu stated:
“Our understanding definitely is that in the future we will undoubtedly reach the point where there are no Russian-language schools in Estonia. But we certainly don’t want to make any precepts or restrictions to parents concerning the choices of the educational journey, in terms of the choice of a particular school.”
Right, they are banning the current language of instruction in these schools, but don’t want to restrict educational choices. What is the most concerning about this, is that they clearly see the current problems with Russia as permanent. These are the actions of people who are in it for the long-haul, and are clearly trying to destroy the identity of Russians within Estonia. Latvia followed, and is looking to ban Russian in the workplace as well as telephone and banking messages. A lot of these communities are monolingual, meaning this will potentally be imposed on businesses where Russian was previously the sole language used. It’s not clear how well the Russian population of these countries speaks Latvian or Estonian, and it’s presumably the case that a lot of older Russians don’t at all, so you’re talking about Grandma suddenly being unable to pay her bills or even understand emergency alerts in the event of a natural disaster [or for that matter, Russian invasion.] And unlike Ukrainian, these are not languages closely related to Russia- Estonian is not even an Indo-European language, and Latvian is not a Slavic language. There’s no reason to believe older folks can just choose to become fluent in these languages if they are not already.
All of this is part of a broader trend where ostensible “liberal democracies” become less liberal to counter Russia’s illiberalism, similar to how they said the terrorists “hate us for our freedom” and then proceeded to take our freedoms. By going after the Russia people generally, they make it clear that Putin and his revanchism are the only option for Russians who want to keep their culture and language. These crackdowns on ethnic Russians also absolutely serve to antagonize Russia, because the Baltic states have for some reason gone mad and decided that they want to be the battleground of a confrontation between Russia and NATO. Instead of accusing 25% of their population of disloyalty, these rulers could instead work to deserve their loyalty by actually treating them well and not assuming they are all traitors. It is a scary time to be a Russian in the Baltics. Russia has a lot of room and demographic problems, so it is wholly capable of settling these relatively small populations within its borders. However, doing a Greco-Turkish style population exchange is a bad look for “liberal democracies,” not that they seem to care they pretty much appear to not want to have to live among Russians. I spoke to my one Communist friend- who knows a great deal about the USSR and Eastern Europe generally- for background on this story, and his comment was simply “Ethnostates gonna ethnostate.” Indeed.
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