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Russian, Estonian Youth Stage Demonstrations in Helsinki

Dozens of members of the Russian Nashi (“Ours”) youth organisation and the Night Watch, a group seeking to promote interests of Russophones living in Estonia, staged demonstrations on Monday in Helsinki.

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Outside the head office of the Sanoma Corporation, the groups protested the release of the article compilation "Fear Behind Us All" ("Kaiken takana oli pelko"), compiled by Imbi Paju and Sofi Oksanen.

The articles deal with the Baltic countries' recent Soviet history. The publication of the anthology marks 60 years since the March deportations took place in Estonia and 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain.

“This anthology sheds light on life behind the Iron Curtain from the perspective of occupation-era Estonia and the other Baltics,” states the press release by the compilation’s publisher WSOY, part of the Sanoma conglomerate.

The Russian activists also staged a protest at the screening of the Latvian documentary film “The Soviet Story,” a movie about the ties between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. Ten members of the Finnish Islamic party also joined in the demonstration, demanding better treatment for Estonian Muslims.

The beefed-up police presence on downtown streets drew attention to the demonstrations.

“A Stunt by the Estonian Security Service”

Maksim Reva, a Night Watch spokesman, said the Finnish film screening is a ploy by the Estonian security service.

”Estonia is using this untruthful film to justify its claims of a Soviet occupation and to rationalise its mistreatment of Russophones in Estonia. The US is using Estonia and Latvia to create tension between the EU and Russia,” said Reva.

Protest Traces Roots to Statue Dispute

Johan Bäckman, a docent at the University of Helsinki and elsewhere, helped the activists organise Monday’s protests.

The Night Watch movement surfaced in connection with violent clashes in Tallinn over the relocation of a Soviet war memorial some two years ago. The Nashi organisation is meanwhile a Russian state-sponsored youth movement. Nashi became active following the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine, which Russian authorities feared could spread to Russia. Nashi summer camps allegedly teach adolescents street fighting techniques to help offset possible revolutions.

Nashi has attracted attention by harassing the Estonian, Swedish and British ambassadors stationed in Moscow. Nashi’s funding and support base are, however, dwindling as its public image is dying down.

Lähteet: YLE