Leading Estonian politicians from across the political spectrum have joined in contrasting the perverse, almost comedic planned visit of Russian leader Vladimir Putin to the northwestern city of Pskov, around 50 kilometers from the Estonian border, as his final official visit of the year, compared with the heroism displayed by Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
"The visit of Russian dictator Putin to Pskov is probably intended to demonstrate his 'bravery', but instead represents the horrible distortion of a crooked mirror," MEP Riho Terras (Isamaa) told daily Postimees (link in Estonian).
This was in stark contrast to Ukraine's Zelenskyy, who is visiting the frontline of Bakhmut, as a war hero who stands with the people, while Putin's trip to Pskov – a long, long way from the conflict zone – will mostly involve distributing patronage to other people who have not been anywhere near the military, Terras, a former commander of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF), went on; interior Minister Lauri Läänemets (SDE) concurred, adding that while "Putin's visit to the Pskov region will not directly affect Estonia ... we can symbolically read fear and weakness from it."
Henn Põlluaas (EKRE), MP and chair of the party's Riigikogu group, noted the irony of Putin finally making his way to, albeit occupied, Estonian territory, after declining an invitation from then President Kersti Kaljulaid – hardly EKRE's bedfellow when she was in office – to attend the Finno-Ugric international days held in Tartu.
Kaljulaid had made an official visit to Moscow in October 2019.
Põlluaas was referring to Petseri, an Estonian town now occupied by Russia and called Pechory, while the EKRE MP also noted the irony of Putin's planned trip to a monastery there, given that the Soviet regime the Russian leader glorifies would likely have slaughtered the monks and converted the building into a Kolkoz building or similar, were it not for the fact that the city was a part of democratic Estonia prior to World War Two.
The Postimees piece (in Estonian) is here.
The original Estonian-Russian border, agreed between the First Estonian Republic and the Soviet Russian state, the forerunner to the Soviet Union, in the 1920 Treaty of Tartu, ran somewhat to the east of the present-day boundary, and included Petseri, as well as Jaanilinn, on the other side of the Narva River from Narva itself.
Putin's official visit circuit has met attracted plenty of interest from the Twitterati and the commentariat, not least due to his distribution of gold rings to leaders from the Russia-aligned CIS countries, prompting references to J.R..R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, though not in a good way.
Putin got tired of being the Hitler of the 21st century and decided to play Lord of the Rings and become a "mighty Sauron".— Oleksiy Goncharenko (@GoncharenkoUa) December 27, 2022
He presented the participants of the informal summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States with rings with the symbol of the "commonwealth". pic.twitter.com/vqZArg5uha
Editor: Andrew Whyte