Yesterday I wrote about a letter sent by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to several EU countries, including Finland, at the height of the Estonian statue controversy. Tampere newspaper Aamulehti has now published it (fi) - i.e. the version that originally appeared in Eesti Paevaleht. The Baltic Times and the Finnish News Agency (STT) carry some quotes in English, but as I have been unable to find a complete English translation on the Web, I thought I'd provide one:
I turn to you on the basis of the worrying development regarding the Liberator-soldier memorial. Its effects can reach further than the relations between Russia and Estonia.Keep in mind that the contents have been translated several times over, so arguments relying on exact wording should probably be avoided. The general meaning of the letter should come through, I hope. The bit about countries giving their "silent approval" for an "interpretation" that Estonians are revisionists is just as illogical in the Aamulehti version.
The situation in Tallinn is about to come to a very bad turn. The police breaks up demonstrations by those who have protected the monument. Due to excessive use of force by Estonian authorities, tens of civilians have been hurt. One Russia citizen, a permanent resident of Estonia, has died. The society is disintegrating.
We asked Estonian officials repeatedly that they would take no steps to remove the monument and would not remove the remains of Soviet soldiers. Those soldiers gave their lives to liberate the world from fascism. Similar appeals were made to Estonian authorities also by the relatives of the soldiers buried near the monument. Regrettably Tallinn did not listen to these appeals.
It is our opinion, that Estonia's sacrilege and glaring acts pose a challenge to the whole world's democratic community, undermine the basis of humanism and morality, and defy all values on which the modern way of life is founded.
Similarly deeply worrying is the fact that a whole group of countries that are proud of their own democracy and tolerance treat positively the Estonian authorities' actions, understanding the current situation primarily as a factor in bilateral relations. They have given their silent approval to the interpretation that by equaling the heroic acts of the liberator-soldiers and the crimes of Nazis and their henchmen, the Estonian authorities try to rewrite history and reevaluate the role of the anti-Hitler coalition in the victory over fascism in the Second World War.
History teaches us that allowing the presentation of neo-Nazi feelings in certain countries can turn into a global tragedy. Regardless of what sort of evaluations of history this or that politician gives, or what sort of quarrels historians have, the memory of the fallen is sacred. Even more - heroes that gave their lives for the happiness and freedom of future generations can't be the victims of political games. It is our duty to defend those who can no longer defend themselves from all sorts of gravediggers.
We expect that especially Estonia's partners in Europe and in transatlantic organizations, as well as in the European Council and OSCE, give an appropriate assessment on the Estonian authorities' activity.
Russia, which has paid a terrible price for the victory over fascism, can't remain indifferent to development in which sacred historical memory is taken as hostage by current political demands. The events in Tallinn have started severe waves of protest and have been condemned at all levels of the Russian society, and it can influence our relations with the European Union and NATO in the most serious way.
I believe that the European Union will turn to the means at its disposal to convince Tallinn that the injustice committed by Estonian authorities should be stopped.
If the letter had been written by a blogger, it would be easy to dismiss as an ill-informed rant. Coming from the foreign minister of a powerful country, it's quite worrisome. I can't imagine that it was meant to convince recipients of the righteousness of Russia's cause. Maybe it was intended to keep them silent, lest they find themselves at the receiving end of a similar barrage. This time the toxic language can't be explained by saying that it was intended for domestic consumption, because the letter was sent to foreign governments and was not made public by Russia.