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Political Scandal Draws Comparisons to Past Eras

Rein Raud
Rein Raud Source: Photo: ERR

Even as the Reform Party tries to put the financing scandal behind it, a number of opinion leaders have unflatteringly likened Estonian political culture to bygone eras.

Most recently, writer and former Tallinn University rector Rein Raud called the Reform Party financing scandal "Soviet" and said it has destroyed his faith in the political system.

In his scathing opinion published in Eesti Pevaleht today and entitled "Back in the USSR," Raud says Estonian political culture has reverted to a Soviet-style system where legislation and votes can be bought and sold. 

"Back in the beginning we were in the habit of asking government officials whether you want the communist system back, but now there is reason to say: it is back. In a new, more up-to-date form and without all of the excesses. With shops full of goods. Half-English  instead of half-Russian in language. But still, very similar."

He said the "Silvergate" Reform Party financing scandal had planted Estonia firmly back in the post-Soviet space.  

"We have no more reason to say that things are (…) different from what they are in Russia, Ukraine or Armenia. In a few decades, we have managed to raise an entire generation of Komsomol and Communist Party youth members even after these organizations closed up shop here."

He said that it didn't matter that the charges of illegal financing failed to stick judicially. "I believe, and it seems that many share my opinion, that top politicians lie with incredible self-confidence and without particular imagination, without an attempt to confer even the slightest credibility to what they are saying."

"Before the current system is very thoroughly changed, I can't have faith in any Parliament decision or bill drafted by the Cabinet," Raud wrote.
Raud said the attitudes from ruling politicians made the period a "deaf era" -  a phrase coined by Aare Pilv in a recent op ed on the subject. It's a play on the popular name for the 1930s "Silent Era," in which freedom of speech was stifled under a strong head of state.

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