He also uncovered further truth:
Russian-speakers account for 58 per cent of Estonia's prison population and approximately 80 per cent of HIV-positive cases. They have a higher incidence of respiratory diseases, alcoholism and drug addiction and, according to a paper published in the British Medical Journal in 2004, significantly higher rates of suicide than native Estonians or Russians in Russia.
Second problem, which derives from the first one, this being the absence of Estonian POV, is the problem of interpretation of the facts provided. I agree that the 25% difference in wages between Russians and Estonians mentioned in the piece is bad. This admitted following question remains: what difference could be seen as "normal" or "common" and what difference is deserving "concern"? Zero per cent, 5 per cent, 15 per cent? Is 25 per cent cut bigger or smaller than the cut in wages between the United Kingdom's aboriginal and immigrant population? What about EU average? World average? If it were discovered, say, that elsewhere such differences are even higher what would it tell us about Estonia?
Let's actually attempt this comparison, albeit on small scale. Entering following keywords "difference in wages", "United Kingdom" and "immigrants" into Google search engine provides, at the top, a study in the UK just about this issue. On the page 46 of this study we discover, that in the 90s, the immigrants in the UK earned overall 10 per cent less than the indigenoius people. However Bangladeshis (283 thousands of them in the UK, Wiki) earned an amazing 48% less. That's virtually two times less! I figure that our Russians earn, of course, less than our Finnish minority (thousands of people, which moved from Finland earn a lot more than indigenous Estonians), but much more than Bangladeshis in the UK compared to indigenous people of the Kingdom of Unity. I wonder what says the Independent on the disturbing situation of the poor - literally - Bangladeshis? Mr Schüler? Anyone? I guess Bangladeshian Pravda is not doing the job of "educating" the schülers of the World.
Similarly, no background is provided to back up the rest of the list of the alleged Estonian minorities' problems, including vodka and drugs. Without having the proper background, studying the relevant facts we can't be sure about anything. Much less can we rely on article, written of Russian FM web page.
But wait! How about the criticism of Estonia by the United Nations, the Council of Europe and Amnesty International, referred in the article? They surely had taken care of all relevant background and statistics in order to be objective, right?
Yes and not. In fact more not than yes. The truth is that background added in the one on one comparison it is the United Kingdom, not Estonia, which would win the competition for the title of the bad boy. Because, as I said, it is easy to say "look, here the UN criticized Estonia", when in fact it may be a good thing because maybe for the UN it is normal to criticize a country twice. Of course, you won't find out about it unless you listen to the other party in the dispute, not just the KGB school graduate lawyers.
Let's analyze the work of the Council of Europe, one of the leaders of which, Mr Van der Linden is famous in my country for both his deep estophobia and his prominence in developing his business project in Russia (what a coincidence!).
The web site of the Council of Europe has built in search option. Let's obtain the list of officially adopted documents using following search criteria: AP Documents, Adopted Texts. Keywords: Estonia, United.
After running the search, which provides an extensive list of references to official documents of the European organization let's then attempt to analyze if the two countries, which are the UK and Estonia, encountered any diffuclties on their quest to freedom and human rights... Since 1996 because this is the year when Estonia became a member, the UK became a member some 30 years earlier. Here I present my list of "unfavorable documents", which are the documents specifically condemning, giving recommendations or describing problems in two countries. You can check the choice yourself by running own search.
Documents, unfavorable to Estonia:
RECOMMENDATION 1313 (1997) 1 on the honoring of obligations and commitments by Estonia;
Documents, unfavorable to UK:
RESOLUTION 1342 (2003)1 The Office of the Lord Chancellor in the constitutional system of the United Kingdom;
RESOLUTION 1389 (2004)1 The Council of Europe and the conflict in Northern Ireland;
Looking inside the texts reveals that these documents are in every sense comparable. For example in 1997 the Council gives four recommendations to Estonia on the process of Estonia's accession to the Council. And in 2003 it gives three recommendations to the UK on the issue of the Office of the Chancellor. Of course, the resolution of Northern Ireland crisis could be seen as outstanding because of its gravity, but I am willing to scale it down to match the Estonian case.
So, as demonstrated above, the United Kingdom scored twice more reprimands from the Council. The UK gets two resolutions in 2003 and 2004 as opposed to one recommendation from the Council in 1997, when Estonia was entering the organization, six years after becoming independent from under occupation in 1991.
Now let's move on to unofficial documents of the Council, in particular to its Commission Against Racism and Intolerance, which should be particularly relevant to the question raised by the Independent. According to the web site, the (sub)organization is periodically reviewing the situation with regard to minority human rights in all member states of the Council, making recommendations as necessary. So, how many shortcomings have the Commission uncovered in its latest reports on the UK and on Estonia? The web site has all the reports nicely lined up. The reports, in turn, have all the defects outlined.
In Estonia 54 issues were discovered, while in the UK the number was 57! So much about "sharp criticism".
Because of lack of time I am skiping much of the rest of the pasquille leaving out a number of other claims, obviously fed to the journalist by the "benign face of Russian nationalism in the Slavic cultural associations flourishing throughout the region", with the exception of the female taxi driver raising the existential question:
For me personally her solution could be moving back to Russia, where she should be a citizen in accordance with the 1947 international convention on warfare, which forbids civilian colonization of the occupied territories and 2005 Putin's decree calling on the abroad-living Russians to return to Motherland (50 thousands returnees from across the globe were planned for 2007, 400 agreed to return). At the same time I understand that she personally would prefer the regime in Estonia (or in the UK for that matter, after all the racism in the UK doesn't seem much more problematic). But if she stays why not take free language courses provided in Estonia for years en masse. It is even hard to imagine a bona fide Russian interviewee who wouldn't know about the free language courses, because as I said they are massive and popular among the locals.
But for Mr Schüler from the Independent I have different advise: use the time in the Baltic states wisely, learn about freedom, democracy and tolerance from Estonia.