Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 198

The Estonian government yesterday endorsed the European Convention on the Rights of Ethnic Minorities and is forwarding it to parliament for ratification, Prime Minister Tiit Vahi announced. Vahi recommended that parliament attach a declaration defining the notion of ethnic minority. He pointed out that Estonia’s cultural autonomy law recognizes ethnic minorities as constituted by citizens interested in cultivating their ethnic identity. (BNS, October 22) Many Russians in Estonia and their supporters in Russia object to the linkage of ethnic minority status to citizenship. That linkage, however, is the norm in European countries.

In a coincidental development, Russian Duma deputy and Economic Freedom party leader Konstantin Borovoy stated on returning from Estonia that its stateless Russian residents ought at last to opt for either Estonian or Russian citizenship, and on that basis choose their country of residence. The large number of Russians not applying for either citizenship "have remained Soviet citizens and vote Communist ," Borovoy observed. (BNS, October 22) The Russian government takes the opposite position, calling for mass-naturalization of Soviet-era Russian settlers. It accuses Estonia and Latvia of ethnic discrimination and predicts an exodus from the Baltic states. Moscow’s view overlooks the fact that those Russians have generally opted to stay on as legal residents in the more prosperous and better ordered Baltic states, rather than exercise their right to take Russian citizenship and repatriate.

U.S., World Bank Aid Commitments to Ukraine Firming Up.