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Stand by Estonia

May 10, 2007, Telegraph UK

Vladimir Putin needs a history lesson. At a parade in Red Square yesterday commemorating the end of the Second World War, the Russian president accused the Estonian government of belittling that conflict, desecrating a monument to war heroes, insulting its own people and sowing distrust between nations.

This absurd outburst was triggered by the transfer last month of the Soviet "Bronze Soldier" memorial from the centre of Tallinn to the main military cemetery.

Its removal has led to two nights of rioting, the siege of the Estonian embassy in Moscow and the closure, allegedly for repairs, of railway lines to the Baltic state.

Russia's upper house has described the Tallinn authorities as "provincial zealots of Nazism", while Sergei Ivanov, first deputy prime minister and a possible successor to Mr Putin, has called for an end to the transit of Russian goods across Estonia. Moscow should not be surprised if its little neighbour sees the matter in a different light.

Following the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany in 1939, Stalin occupied Estonia and deported thousands of people to the Siberian gulag.

Many Estonians regarded the Wehrmacht, pushing eastwards under Operation Barbarossa in 1941, as liberators, even though that enthusiasm soon waned.

However, worse was to follow: the retreat of the Germans in 1944 brought a second wave of Red terror, and colonisation through massive Russian settlement. That occupation lasted until independence in 1991.

Homo sovieticus regards himself as the liberator of Estonia from the Nazi yoke. The Estonians view him as the brutal stifler of national self-determination for more than a generation.

The likes of Mr Putin need to recognise that their Baltic neighbour is an independent state whose prime minister, Andrus Ansip, was returned to power in March on a platform that included the removal of the "Bronze Soldier".

In his careful handling of the issue, Mr Ansip merits the wholehearted backing of his Nato and EU allies. The West must be particularly vigilant when it comes to Russian bullying of former parts of the Soviet empire.


Octobr 17, 2008 - President Bush Discusses the Visa Waiver Program
Office of the Press Secretary/ White House News

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. (Applause.) Please be seated, thank you. Welcome to the White House. I'm pleased to stand with the representatives of seven countries -- the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and South Korea -- that have met the requirements to be admitted to the United States Visa Waiver Program. Soon the citizens of these nations will be able to travel to the United States for business or tourism without a visa. I congratulate these close friends and allies on this achievement, and I thank you for joining us here.

I also thank Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of the Homeland -- Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff for working hard to make sure this day has finally arrived. Appreciate other members of the administration here and members of the Diplomatic Corps.

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