Yana Toom MEP (Centre) has argued that the events of 1940 in Estonia are comparable with many of the so-called 'colour revolutions' of recent decades.
Speaking on a Russian-language talk show, "Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyov,'' Ms. Toom said that: ''What happened in 1940 [in Estonia] seems to me that it was likely something similar to our unloved 'colour revolutions' – the splitting of the elite, demonstrations, some being in favour, some not, something like that.''
Colour revolution is a term that widely used to describe various related movements that developed in several countries of the former Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact countries, and the Balkans in the 1990s and early 2000s.* Some of these such as the 'Velvet Revolution' (admittedly not a colour) in the former Czechoslovakia in 1989, or the 'Orange Revolution' in Ukraine in 2004, led to a transfer of power and were more or less bloodless, but the latter in particular was seen in pro-government circles in Russia as an affront, even as it was often viewed in a positive light in the western media.
1940 in Estonia saw a 'puppet' government under Johannes Vares, appointed by former President Konstantin Päts at the behest of Soviet Second Secretary Andrei Zhdanov, which effectively sealed Estonia's annexation by the Soviet Union the same year.
Reparations demands political
The question of reparations from Russia, as the successor state of the Soviet Union, for the Soviet occupation of Latvia and Estonia was also raised on the show, it is reported. Ms. Toom viewed the reparations request, dismissed by Vladimir Putin's Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov as impractical, as domestic politicking on the part of those who made it, namely Minister for Justice Urmas Reinsalu and his counterpart in Latvia, Dzintars Rasnačs.
"The problem does not lie in how we look at what happened in 1940 but in us carrying over the occupier narrative to the Russian-speaking population,'' Ms. Toom said.
''This is being done with a completely concrete political objective – this will eliminate part of the population from leading the country which seemingly suits everyone," she went on, noting that whilst the events of 1940 are no longer of strong significance today, their legacy continues to create divisions between the Russian-speaking and Estonian-speaking sections of society, as well as between Estonia and the Russian Federation.
Yana Toom has been an MEP since 2014 and is a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) bloc in the European Parliament.
Centre Party board member and Member of Parliament Enn Eesmaa expresses regret over comparison
Member of the Centre Party board Enn Eesmaa has voiced hs opinion that the comparison was unfortunate and added that a loss of sovereign independence is not comparable with democratic protest movements.
Mr. Eesmaa added that the Soviet Union's intentions in the Baltic states have been well documented and the loss of independence in Estonia and other states was affirmed by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact signed by and named after the foreign ministers of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany in 1939, whose secret protocols divided Europe between the two totalitarian regimes.
"The processes that occurred under the supervision and direction of ultimatums, special representatives and a vast Red Army cannot be considered the expression of the wish of a proportion of the people, even if there were collaborators among the Estonian citizenry," he said.
Mr. Eesmaa added that while the aim of the 'colour revolutions' was to achieve greater democracy and freedom, the reverse happened when Estonia lost its freedom in 1940.
"If one really had to compare 'colour revolutions' with what happened in Estonia, this could be done rather with the year 1991, with the activities of the Popular Front of Estonia, the 'Singing Revolution' and the unity of the people of Estonia in the name of restoring the country's independence, events which Yana Toom should recall quite clearly," Mr. Eesmaa added.
Mr. Eesmaa went on to say that the comparison could leave a very misleading impression of what happened in Estonia in 1940.
"These kinds of statements understandably raise questions and I believe that Yana Toom will elaborate on her statements," he opined.
Enn Eesmaa states on his Estonian Parliament (Riigikogu) profile that: ''This is my fourth term in the Riigikogu. I represent and try to realise the ideas of the Estonian Centre Party and the people who elected me to the Riigikogu.''
*The 1974 Carnation Revolution in Portugal is a much earlier example.
A previous version of this article stated that Dzintars Rasnačs was the leader of the Latvian Parliament (Saeima). In fact he is that country's Minister for Justice, and formerly a Deputy of the Saeima
Editor: Andrew Whyte