Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin warned yesterday that Moscow “continues to be dissatisfied with Estonia’s approach to the problems of the Russian-speaking population…. The main problem is the denial of citizenship [to Russians] en masse.” According to Rakhmanin, Tallinn “tries to create a semblance of dealing with the problems, instead of actually solving them…Unless these problems are solved, Russian-Estonian relations can not develop normally.” The spokesman called for a “radical acceleration of naturalization;” early steps to eliminate or simplify Estonian language tests for various categories of residents; and the extension of residency permits of Russian military retirees and their families. (Russian agencies, May 21)
The statement follows up on President Boris Yeltsin’s impromptu remark in Birmingham that Russia has “more complicated problems” with Estonia than with Latvia (see The Monitor, May 18). These implicit or explicit warnings substantiate the public prediction of some Baltic leaders, notably Lithuanian Parliament Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis, that Moscow can at any time shift the pressure from Latvia–the main target at the moment–onto another Baltic state. Rakhmanin’s statement also shows that, should Moscow succeed in imposing mass naturalization on Latvia, it would be in a stronger position to demand it of Estonia.
MOLDOVA’S POST-ELECTION GOVERNMENT FINALLY IN PLACE.