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Author Topic: Russia and Eastern Europe  (Read 2113 times)
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« on: April 16, 2007, 09:03:44 PM »

Discuss Russian and Eastern Europen politics.
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Bob
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« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2007, 11:29:50 AM »

Any comments on the death of Boris Yeltsin?
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Dzimas
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« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2007, 08:21:41 AM »

The folks who anchored this forum in the NYTimes have set up their own forum somewhere else.  I don't have a link for that site on this computer. 

I was amazed that Condi didn't think that setting up bilateral agreements with the Czech Republic and Poland for a missile defense system wouldn't ruffle feathers in Moscow.  For all the talk of being on good terms with Putin, this administration has done its damnedest to recreate a Cold War environment, and this latest incident only heightens the tensions between the two countries.  If, as Condi says, the missile defense system offers little in the way of deterent, then why set it up at all?

As for Yeltsin, he is being treated better in death than he was in life.  The guy had the best of intentions, but was totally incompitent.  He just managed to stumble into a few good situations and endear himself to the West.
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thebizneverloses
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« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2007, 10:36:21 AM »

Any idea to where these folks have migrated?
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Dzimas
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« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2007, 02:42:12 AM »

This is where they emigrated to:

http://eastern-european-forum.blogspot.com/

very nice site.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2007, 02:53:48 AM »

The Yeltsin love-in seems to be over.  I have been shocked by the reaction to Estonia pulling down a red army war memorial.  Putin is still referring to it in his speeches, as was the case in commemoration of the Russian V-Day celebration yesterday.  Seems Putin has embraced much of the Soviet dynasty as his own, something Yeltsin had been careful not to do.  Lithuania got rid of virtually all its Soviet statues, with a savvy entrepreneur making a park out of them in the south of the country, nicknamed Stalinworld:

http://www.grutoparkas.lt/ekspozicija-en.htm

which is where such memorials belong.
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Wolverine
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« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2007, 01:28:38 AM »

It's not all that simple - I was visiting in eastern Estonia a couple of weeks ago and there really are some human rights issues involved - a whole part of Estonia there doesn't speak Estonian - and have virtually no practical way to learn as there is no one to speak Estonian to!

(By the way - overall - Estonia has turned into an absolutely marvelous place)

These people are denied citizenship because of the language problem - and no help really given to solve that. These folks lost Soviet citizenship and could not get Russian citizenship without moving back to Russia. Estonia and Yeltsin had a deal for these Russian-Estonians to get citizenship as a kind of quid pro quo with withdrawal of the Red Army in 1994 - but I was told Yeltsin seemed to forget all about it when the army was taken out - supposedly too drunk or too busy dancing.

Latvia is no simple case either - with 50% of Riga (also the whole region's biggest city) being of Russian origin.

It will require some creative thinking and good will from all parties to get past this.
On the other hand - I'm told by some Russians - the only reason Russia is 'under control' in general is because of the iron fist he holds - he's a bit like the Saddam Hussein of Russia.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2007, 02:53:51 AM by Wolverine » Logged
Dzimas
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« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2007, 09:27:42 AM »

Celebrating Russian culture is one thing, eulogizing Soviet memorials is another.  Much of the tension that runs through Baltic-Russian relations has to do with the Soviet annexation of these republics, and the Soviet insistence that they had no autonomy before the annexation.  No Russian leader has yet to visit the Baltics since independence, despite having had visits from all other leading heads of state.  It struck me that Putin was trying to make a hornets' nest out of the situation, when all Estonia wanted to do was clear a Red Army Memorial out of Tallinn, which they should have done long ago.
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Wolverine
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« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2007, 03:33:52 PM »

All that is true

But do wonder why Estoia is holding hostage tens of thousands of perfectly decent human beings living in Estonia who 'got stuck' - they had done nothing wrong - they are in a very impractical situation to start to be learning Estonian (they live in areas pretty much by themselves).

Why not find a way to ive them Estonian citizenship - perhaps very serious govt programs to help them gradually leearn Estonian - etc etc

It's rather narrow-minded thinking by the Estonians - these people did not do any occupying - and anything done to help them out is only going to be to Estonia's advantage in the long run.

Similar situations MAY exist in Latvia and Lithuania.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2007, 01:12:38 AM »

Most Russians who have a long established residency in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania do have citizenship and do speak the languages.  Understandably, the Baltic countries are slow to give newly arriving (post-indepence) Russians citizenship, otherwise there would be an even greater ethnic imbalance than there already is, especially in Latvia, where tensions run the highest.  As someone who has to go through the ordeal of getting a residence visa every year, despite having a Lithuanian wife and children, I know how dehumanizing that can be, but when I hear about the horror stories coming out of Russia these days in regard to immigration, the problems in the Baltics seems quite small by comparison.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2007, 03:45:27 AM »

I think the situation in Estonia spun wildly out of control, wolverine, and it has been referred to heavily in the Russian media.  Putin has picked up on it in his speeches as well.  Russian (financial) influence in Baltic politics is very strong, and is deeply resented by the Baltic nations.  Unfortunately, people get caught in the middle as a result.  Probably the worst situation is Kaliningrad, which is separated from Russia by Lithuania and Poland, and as a result has to negotiate transit through the countries each year.  What makes the situation even more difficult is that the three Baltic nations couldn't be any different: linguistically, culturally or politically, making it very hard to coordinate policy.  Since EU, they pretty much follow EU regulations when it comes to immigration and citizenship requirements, although there was a lot of bad press a few years ago over Latvia's language requirement.  Surprised that Russia hasn't picked up Lithuania's new language requirement for permanent residential visas.  One also has to familiarize oneself with the constitution as well, which seems more like a citizenship requirement.  Of course, having such isolated languages, there isn't much incentive to learn the languages, especially when one can communicate freely in Russian in these countries, although the Latvians we know prefer to speak in English.
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« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2007, 10:35:16 AM »


Most Russians who have a long established residency in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania do have citizenship and do speak the languages.

This is not the case in Estonia for many, many persons. I know one chap - doing VERY responsible work - for 20 years - sent to Estonia after finishing university in Moscow - and he is completely caught in the 'non-citizen of anywhere' abyss

I leave tomorrow for 4 days in Vilnius - 3rd time in 2 years - and will ask around about this question.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2007, 10:53:07 AM »

There have been several waves of Russians settling in the Baltics, dating back to the late 18th century, when Russia annexed the Baltics and partitioned Poland.  The question of citizenship is a very complex issue since many Russians consider themselves first and foremost Russian and have little or no allegiance to the Baltics outside of their residency.  Estonia and Latvia never had any independence prior to 1918, subject to one nation-state or another.  Lithuania had a monarchy dating back to the 13th century and then a joint kingdom with Poland from the 16th through 18th centuries, which was conquered and divided by the Russians and Germans.  Nevertheless, Russia and then the Soviet Union tried to deny the Baltics ever had any independence, claiming the countries as their territories.  Hardline Russian conservatives continue to view the Baltics as part of a greater Russia, refusing to recognize their independence.  So, in asking your questions around the Baltic states, you should ask Russians whether they even consider themselves Balts or Russians who happen to be living in Baltic states?
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« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2007, 12:56:29 PM »

So, in asking your questions around the Baltic states, you should ask Russians whether they even consider themselves Balts or Russians who happen to be living in Baltic states?

This will vary greatly as you can well imagine.

I was met in Tallinn harbor by the car rental girl - I told I was driving to the Narva area (Russian) - she said she'd not been there - her grandparents Russian - she didn't speak Russian - her beef with the Russians was that they acted like they owned Estonia - she said her knowledge was that the Germans hadn't acted that way in the 40's

But there is my friend from Russia there - he is going to be 'Russian' until he dies - whatever passport he has - but that's not his fault - it's just life - but he shouldn't have to be a non-entity because some governments moved borders or politics around

Lithuania was once a very important power - last time in Vilnius paid some 30 bucks for detailed history - got to really get into it - they basically went down to the Black Sea - so Russians would have some trouble telling the Lithuanias they were never independent

It is true the Baltics are 3 different countries in many ways - language, culture - etc - but one common thread now is economics as many companies are putting the 3 together - and along with a presence in Finland and Sweden (with the companies having Finnish and Swedish owners) - there is a new commonality - economics.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2007, 12:58:02 PM by Wolverine » Logged
Dzimas
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« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2007, 11:52:11 PM »

Investment runs through all countries, nothing unusual about that.  The funny part is that Anatol Lieven wrote in The Baltic Revolution (back in 93 or 94) that the Scandinavian countries would never invest in Lithuania, because there were no shared Scandinavian roots.  Actually, at one time Sweden did rule Lithuania, ever so briefly.  But that didn't really matter, as Scandinavian investment is heavy throughout the Baltics and Eastern Europe.  What makes the Baltics so attractive to investors is that they serve as a portal to Russia.  The rules of the games are more clearly defined and business and real estate laws favors the investor.  As a result, it is an economic boom in all three countries with rapidly increasing property values and a new rich quickly emerging.  It is bringing with it a whole new set of problems, as speculation runs rampant, which is why you see so many Russians now coming to Vilnius, Riga, and Tallinn, not to mention the portal these countries serve to the EU.
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