While keeping up its political offensive against Latvia, Moscow is broadening the target to include Estonia. First Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov announced yesterday that Russia would "aim to achieve the international isolation of Latvia and Estonia," using Moscow’s contacts with Western countries and international organizations toward that end. "We will work to isolate Latvia and Estonia and, under international pressure, compel the two countries to correct the human rights situation", Ivanov continued, addressing a Russian Federation Council session. He defined the desired "corrections" as the grant of citizenship to the "Russian-speaking population" in Latvia and Estonia," and warned that "our relations with these countries directly depend on the resolution of this issue."
In a similar vein, Russian Foreign Ministry chief spokesman Gennady Tarasov also warned yesterday that "Estonia can not count on stability and trust in its relations with Russia as long as it does not accelerate the naturalization of the Russian-speaking population." The Ministry used an identical phrase about conditions for "stable relations" in a diplomatic note to Latvia. In Geneva, the chief Russian delegate to the UN Human Rights Commission announced yesterday that Moscow will indict both Latvia and Estonia when the Commission takes up next week the Riga incident. (Russian agencies, Voice of Russia, March 12)
As anticipated, (see Monitor, March 10) a political offensive against Estonia could not fail to accompany the one against Latvia, because Moscow pursues identical goals with identical methods toward both countries: thwarting their Western orientation by exploiting the ethnic issue. The references to "stable relations" are also tell-tale, such stability being one prerequisite to Baltic accession to the European Union and NATO.
In Vilnius, Parliament Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis observed yesterday that "if similar actions [to those against Latvia] are taken against Estonia, there will no doubt left about a systematic effort to discredit all three Baltic states in advance of important international decisions [by the EU and NATO], to push them off their chosen road." (BNS, March 12) Landsbergis was speaking only hours before the latest statements in Moscow. Lithuania’s Russian population is proportionately far smaller than that of Latvia and Estonia.
Moscow Shuts Door to Latvian Foreign Minister.