A group of activists has been working to create a new party, called the Party of Estonian Nations, aiming to participate in the 2019 Riigikogu elections. Said to be trying to establish a new Russian party, the activists reject this label.
Lawyer Mstislav Rusakov is the group’s driving force. Rusakov is the director of the Kitež human rights center, and also runs the not-for-profit MTÜ Vene Kool Eestis (Russian School in Estonia). According to daily Eesti Päevaleht, he is not currently a member of any political party.
Rusakov in the past took the state to court over the question whether or not traditional Russian patronymics can be part of a person’s full name in their Estonian passport. In Russia, the patronymic (i.e. one’s father’s name) is part of a person’s name in their passport by default, a standard that was applied across the Soviet Union as well and dropped by several former Soviet republics after 1991.
According to Rusakov, the group working on founding the new party has about 30 members at the moment, and another 100 people have said they would join.
“The founding of the party is planned for 2017, but this isn’t what’s most important to us. What’s important to us is that it is founded no later than in 2018. For example in February 2018, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Manifesto to the Peoples of Estonia,” Rusakov said.
The manifesto is the alternative name of the Estonian Declaration of Independence, which included, among several others, two statements that defined the position of minorities in the Estonian state and in society. It declared that “All citizens of the Republic of Estonia, irrespective of their religion, ethnic origin, and political views, are going to enjoy equal protection under the law and courts of justice of the Republic”, and that “All ethnic minorities, the Russians, Germans, Swedes, Jews, and others residing within the borders of the republic, are going to be guaranteed the right to their cultural autonomy”.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and Estonia’s regaining of its independence, the status of the Russian speakers and other minorities in the country has been the subject of constant dispute, including matters of international law and conventions, and ways to alleviate the effect of half a century of Soviet occupation.
Where the Declaration of Independence included Russians in 1918, for example, it referred to a small minority, which a large part of ethnic Estonians today see as an entirely different matter from those Russians brought to Estonia by the Soviet powers after the Second World War, and the purges and deportations that followed it in the late 1940s.
There had been comments that a new Russian party could be founded with the support of voters that used to go for Savisaar’s Center Party, Päevaleht wrote. Rusakov rejected this notion, insisting that what they were working on was in no way a Russian party, but a party based on the equality of all ethnic groups in Estonia.
The Center Party’s “betrayal of its leader” had “repulsed” plenty of voters as well as members of the party, Rusakov was quoted saying in Päevaleht. “We don’t exclude the possibility that they might join our party. Our doors are open to anyone who shares our views.”
The future party’s future designated press secretary, Sergei Seredenko, told Päevaleht that he didn’t wish to answer neither Päevaleht nor Delfi’s questions, saying that Riigikogu member Mihhail Stalnuhhin (Center) had refused to talk to national broadcaster ERR, and that meant that also Seredenko was allowed to do the same.
Editor: Editor: Dario Cavegn