Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu's (Isamaa) initiative to file a claim for occupation damages against the Russian Federation is Reinsalu's personal initiative, as according to Russia, no occupation occurred, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Maria Zakharova said according to daily Postimees.
"We would like to emphasize once again that the Russian position remains unchanged," Zakharova said as reported by news agency RIA Novosti. "We do nnot accept the concept of 'Soviet occupation,' which is how the liberation of European peoples from fascist enslavement is being presented."
Russia therefore likewise rejects all claims for damages against it as artificial and lacking legal grounds, she added.
According to the Russian ministry spokesperson, such statements are seasonal, and Moscow regards them as the personal initiatives of individual politicians.
She recalled a "similar situation" in connection with Reinsalu last year when, as minister of justice, Reinsalu and his Latvian colleague Dzintars Rasnačs signed a statement of intent to seek compensation from Russia for the Soviet occupation.
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) said at the time that the joint statement signed by Reinsalu and Rasnačs was made at the two ministers' own initiative and without the Estonian government's endorsement.
The issue of claims for occupation damages against Russia was raised during Question Time at the Riigikogu on Wednesday. Addressing the Riigikogu, Reinsalu said that a committee operating under the Ministry of Justice has drawn up a report on human losses during the Soviet occupation. The minister said that pursuant to international law, Estonia is entitled to claim compensation for occupation damages.
Reinsalu added that calling occupation damages into question also amounts to denial of the occupation, which he as a member of an independent state's government cannot tolerate.
Great Flight remembered
This fall marks the 75th anniversary of the Great Flight in 1944, in which tens of thousands of Estonians fled as Soviet forces returned to Estonia.
Following decades of occupation by first Soviet, then Nazi German, and again Soviet forces, the Republic of Estonia finally regained its independence on Aug. 20, 1991.
Editor: Aili Vahtla