The local Russian community’s integration into Estonian society is improving; however, they have increasingly been alienated by political institutions. This has implications for trust and sense of belonging, finds a study commissioned by the Ministry of Culture and the Integration and Migration Foundation.
Research was conducted by Tallinn University’s international social studies institute. Its positive observations are that interaction between ethnicities has increased, and the national language has become more popular among non-native speakers. Also, people do not feel that integration threatens their cultural identity.
On the other hand, the study indicates that the naturalization process has slowed down. The economic recession has shaken the people’s trust in government institutions, as socio-economic inequalities based on ethnicity have become more apparent. The national government’s reputation among the Russian minority is very low.
Attaining citizenship has also become less desirable, as the percentage of non-citizens desiring citizenship decreased from 74 in 2005 to 33 in 2010. A majority of those who do not want Estonian citizenship feel that the naturalization policy is too strict and harsh. The portion of people who do not want any nation’s citizenship also grew from 7 percent to 40 percent.
Non-citizens currently make up 7.5 percent of the nation’s population. The high number was blamed by the respondents on the difficulty of learning the language and unfairness of the Estonian language exam.