Last Updated: Thursday, 17 April 2014, 13:11 GMT

Chronology for Russians in Estonia

Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Chronology for Russians in Estonia, 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/469f38863.html [accessed 18 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Date(s) Item
Jul 1989 Thousands of Russians demonstrate against the movement in Estonia towards greater autonomy from Moscow.
Aug 1989 Russian workers throughout Estonia go on strike threatening vital services including the countries power grid.
Nov 1989 The Estonian Parliament passes a new election law requiring candidates to be residents for at least ten years. Russian deputies had boycotted the vote. Moscow condemns this and all other election laws as violations of the Soviet constitution.
Dec 1989 Russian organizations in Estonia claimed that 160,000 Russian workers had been prevented from participation in the recent local elections.
Mar 30, 1990 Estonian government makes declaration of sovereignty and its intention to re-establish independence.
Jan 1991 Rallies drawing several thousand people are held in Tallinn in support of the pro-Communist Interfront organization.
Aug 19, 1991 Coup attempt against Gorbachev by Soviet hardliners allows Baltics to establish independence and obtain recognition from the world community. Since the early turmoil of Soviet crackdowns, support among the Russian minority for maintaining allegiance to Moscow has dwindled.
Feb 26, 1992 Estonia reaffirms its 1938 Law on Citizenship thereby asserting the de jure continuous existence of the Estonian Republic since then. Under this law, only 80,000 non-ethnic Estonians qualify as citizens. Citizenship is granted only to those people in Estonia prior to 1940 and their descendants.
Jul 1992 The Helsinki Final Document calls for full withdrawal of Soviet troops from the Baltic Republics.
Sep 1992 Russians and some Western groups criticize the Presidential elections in Estonia since over 40% of the population was unable to vote.
Oct 29, 1992 Boris Yeltsin halts the withdrawal of troops from Baltics over demands for compensation from the Baltic republics and to show concerns for the Russian minorities there.
Nov 1992 Rallies are held by ethnic Russians in the Estonian city of Narva protesting discrimination by the Estonian authorities. Yeltsin then appeals to the U.N., citing human rights violations against Russian minorities in Estonia (and the other Baltic Republics). The tally of Russian-speakers emigrating from Estonia during 1992 more than triples from the previous year despite the relatively prosperous state of the Estonian economy.
Nov 20, 1992 2,000 Russian workers demonstrate the treatment their factory receives from the central government. They charge it of strangling the plant and causing greater unemployment and hardship.
Dec 16, 1992 UNGA passes a resolution on the "situation with human rights in Latvia and Estonia" in response to Russia's request. The resolution expresses concern for the existence of problems affecting minority populations in Estonia and Latvia. Russia and Estonia sign several accords on pensions for Russian civilians (not former military personnel), customs, and military property transfers. No agreement is reached on troop withdrawals or Russian minority rights (and citizenship) guarantees.
1993 Estonian government has reduced the funding to retransmission of Russian-language channels out of Moscow from three channels to only one.
Jan 30, 1993 The Representative Assembly for the Russian speakers in Estonia convenes a congress attended by over 300 delegates.
Jun 3, 1993 Estonian government adopts a new election law for municipalities which denies Russian-speaking residents of Estonia the "right" to be elected to local government.
Jun 23, 1993 Estonian government adopts Alien Registration Law which requires the registration of immigrants who came to reside in Estonia under Soviet rule. It disallows retired military officers the right to reside in Estonia unless they were born prior to 1930.
Jun 25, 1993 Russia cuts off the natural gas supply to Estonia to protest the Alien Registration Law which Russia claims is part of the discriminatory policy against ethnic Russians and constitutes human rights violations.
Jun 27, 1993 Estonian president suspends the law on Alien Registration.
Jun 28, 1993 The local council of Narva calls a local referendum on autonomy for the Russian-speaking region. It is to be held July 16-17.
Jul 6, 1993 The Estonian government officially registers the Assembly of Russian speakers and the President includes them in a roundtable on the ethnic tensions.
Jul 12, 1993 A CSCE-approved version of the Alien Registration Law is passed by the Estonian Parliament.
Jul 16 - 17, 1993 Narva and Sillamae, predominantly ethnic-Russian towns take part in a referendum on whether to declare the towns autonomous regions within Estonia. Well over 90% of those voting supported autonomy within Estonia. The Estonian government has declared the referenda illegal, and many irregularities were noted (according to RFE/RL).
Jul 22, 1993 Sillamae City Council declares the referendum valid and changes the status of the town to that of an autonomous zone in Estonia. Both chairmen of the city councils of Narva and Sillamae vow to abide by the ruling of the Estonian Supreme Court regarding the validity of the referenda.
Aug 11, 1993 The Estonian Supreme Court unanimously rules the referenda of July 16-17 in Narva and Sillamae null and void. Some city council members are said to be considering an appeal to the International Court of Justice.
Aug 12, 1993 The city councils of both Narva and Sillamae announce their official acceptance of and intention to abide by the Supreme Court ruling nullifying the referenda on autonomy.
Nov 11, 1993 The President of Estonia enacts a law guaranteeing the cultural autonomy of minority groups which had been passed by the Estonian parliament on October 26. In local elections, ethnic Russians win seats across Estonia. In Tallinn, 27 of the 64 seats on the city council are won by Russians, including the deputy chairman. Non-citizens are allowed to vote in local elections.
Nov 16, 1993 The UNGA passes a resolution calling for all parties involved to reach agreement on the withdrawal of "foreign military forces from the territories of Estonia and Latvia."
May 1994 The Estonian government moves to extend the deadline for Russian-speakers applying for residence-permits. The extension is sought due to the slow response and lack of information concerning the process. Talks between Estonia and Russia over the withdrawal of Russian troops (currently stated at 2,300 to 2,500) hits serious snag over Russian statements blasting Estonian citizenship laws. This occurs despite an overall easing of ethnic tensions within Estonia, including Narva and Virumaa.
Jun 8, 1994 Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vitaly Churkin states that prospects are good for an agreement with Estonia on the pullout of the remaining Russian troops in Estonia.
Jun 30, 1994 Estonian Parliament adopts legislation establishing the pre-1940 Estonian border with Russia as the present border.
Jul 10, 1994 Boris Yeltsin announces further complications and delays in the troop pull-out from Estonia due to the "crude violations of human rights" there (Reuter Textline, July 10, 1994).
Jul 22, 1994 Russian Federation announces that it has halted entirely the withdrawal of Russian troops from Estonia. Approximately 2,000 are said to remain and those still in transit back to Russian territory are ordered to return to their Estonian bases.
Jul 26, 1994 Estonia and the Russian Federation agree to the withdrawal of Russian troops from Estonian soil. In exchange, the Estonian government relented on guarantees on the rights of citizenship for some 10,000 retired Soviet sevicemen and their families including their pensions. The withdrawal is to be completed by the previously agreed upon deadline of August 31.
Aug 24, 1994 The executive council of the Russian Community in Estonia and the Russian citizens' committee have invited the union of veterans' organizations and the union of Slav societies to join the Russian Community in Estonia. At the moment these two unions are part of the Russian-speakers' Representative Assembly in Estonia. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 8/24/94)
Oct 7, 1994 At a congress of the Russian National Union the delegations from Tallinn, Tartu, Narva, Paldiski, Kivioli and Saku decided to set up a Russian party in Estonia and call the Russian National Union's eighth congress the Russian Party's first congress. The program adopted at the Russian Party's first congress says that the aims of the newly-formed party are to protect and represent the Russian ethnic minority's vital interests in Estonia. The party wants to achieve these aims through parliamentary means, with the help of deputies who will stand for the Riigikogu [Estonian parliament] and local governments. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 10/8/94)
Oct 8, 1994 A Russian-speaking party, the United Popular Party of Estonia, was set up in Tallinn. On the day it was founded, the United Popular Party of Estonia acquired 75 members. Once there is a total of 200 members they can think of getting the party registered. The party unites predominantly the so-called Russian speakers, hence the party's demands in its program for the creation of a citizens' community and the building of a law-regulated society. In the view of the United Popular Party the idea of citizens' community means that the non-Estonians living in Estonia should become Estonian citizens. At the same time, both the citizenship and aliens' laws should be relaxed. The new party does not consider it right to restrict the area of Russian language usage. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 10/13/94)
Oct 13, 1994 During the final reading of the law on the civil service, the deputies of the Estonian parliament have decided to exclude a clause which would allow citizens of a foreign country and stateless persons to work in both government and municipal bodies. This change in the law will greatly affect areas like Narva, and Ulle Luberg. A representative of the Justice Ministry recommended that restrictions for foreigners should be introduced only for work in top government bodies. His proposal was rejected. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 10/15/94)
Nov 10, 1994 The parliament finished the first reading of the draft of a new citizenship law that is to replace the currently valid amended version of the 1938 act. The new law would double from three to six the number of years that applicants for citizenship must have lived in Estonia. The draft also rules out dual citizenship for Estonian citizens, but allows citizens by birth to keep their citizen's status of some other country. The bill also contains regulations about the language exam which currently are laid down in a separate legislative act, as well as provisions for granting and restoring the citizenship of children. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 11/15/94)
Dec 11, 1994 The first founding congress of the Union of Russian Citizens in the Republic of Estonia was held in Narva. Delegates from Tallinn, and from cities in the north-west part of Estonia where public city organizations uniting Russians living in Estonia are in operation, took part in the congress. Among topics of discussion at the congress were Estonian citizenship laws that congress members feel are unfair to ethnic Russians. Both Boris Yeltsin and Russian diplomats were criticized for allegedly, "leaving the ethnic Russians to their fate." The statutes of the Union of Russian Citizens in the Republic of Estonia were adopted, and Yuriy Mishin, the leader of Russians living in Narva, was appointed as chairman. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 12/15/94)
Jan 7, 1995 Russian speaking parties in Estonia set up the electoral pact "Estonia is Our Home". The pact was formed at a pre-election conference of the Russian-speaking United Popular Party of Estonia, which was also attended by representatives of the Russian Party and the Russian Popular Party of Estonia. The "Estonia is Our Home" pact is made up of the United Popular Party of Estonia and the Russian Party. Members of the Russian Popular Party, which is not officially registered because it has not reached the required membership of 200, will be included in the election list as independent candidates for the March 5th elections. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 1/10/95)
Jan 12, 1995 Estonian-speaking policemen from all over the country may have to be brought to work in the mainly Russian-speaking northeastern district of East Virumaa. According to Interior Minister Kama, there is no other way to get armed men on the streets of the town of Kohtla-Jarve. The shortage of police officers has stemmed from the recently passed and strictly enforced laws which dictate that policemen and other government officials must be able to prove they are fluent in Estonian. Most of the policemen in the East Virumaa district do not satisfy the language and citizenship requirements for policemen. There is a provision for 455 police jobs in the district and 357 (78.5 %) are filled. Over 240 policemen do not satisfy the language and citizenship requirements. In the town of Sillamae, none of the policemen satisfied the language and citizenship requirements for policemen and only 51 of the 62 positions in Sillamae were filled to begin with. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 1/12/95)
Jan 20, 1995 Well-known television presenter Juri Estam, who has been on a protest hunger strike for several days, told BNS [Baltic News Service] that he is feeling well and is full of determination to continue his hunger strike. Estam, who is running for parliament, claims his hunger strike is a protest action against the citizenship law adopted by the Riigikogu. He is protesting against article 33 of the new citizenship law, which simplifies the rules for citizenship applications for Russian-speaking individuals who arrived in Estonia during the Soviet occupation. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 1/20/95)
Feb 1, 1995 Estonian President Lennart Meri has signed a decree enforcing a new citizenship law, which was earlier approved by parliament. The law will take effect on 1st April. The new legislation envisages several new requirements for granting, restoring and canceling Estonian citizenship. According to this act, Estonian citizens born in the republic cannot be deprived of citizenship, whereas naturalized citizens can be stripped of Estonian passports for several violations, including presentation of deliberately falsified biographical data. Applications for Estonian citizenship can now be filed only by people who have lived in the republic for five years and on the basis of a permanent residence certificate. Applicants for Estonian citizenship must pass two examinations. An Estonian language test and a test on the Estonian constitution and other basic laws. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 2/2/95)
Feb 10, 1995 According to the Estonian authorities, since 1992, 48,491 people, most of whom are Russian speakers, have become naturalized citizens. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 2/10/95)
Mar 9, 1995 The results of recent parliamentary elections held in Estonia show that the Russian-speaking election pact, "Estonia is Our Home", garnered 5.87 percent of the vote, giving them six seats. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 3/13/99)
Mar 25, 1995 Russian citizen, Petr Rozhok, was expelled from Estonia on the 24th of March. Petr Rozhok, who has a permanent registration permit for Tallinn, was supposedly given the notice to leave on March 22 because of involvement in "unconstitutional" activities. When he refused to leave Estonian soil, Rozhok was arrested, fined 150 kroons, and forcibly deported. Rozhok is a controversial political figure who represents a portion of Russians living in Estonia. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 3/25/99)
Apr 30, 1995 A group of mainly Russian-speaking people demonstrated in front of the building of the Foreign Ministry in Tallinn. They demanded an end to the arbitrary actions of the police. Oleg Morozov, the leader of the Tallinn Union of Russian Citizens, was among the demonstrators. The demonstrators explained that cases of the police evicting people in Tallinn, both Estonians and Russians, from their lawful flats by force, have lately become more frequent. Since the rally was not authorized, it was shut down by police, and Morozov is liable to a fine for violating administrative law. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 5/2/95)
May 9, 1995 In order to draw attention to the Estonian-Russian border issues and conditions of Tartu peace [treaty of 1920], the Petserimaa association [pressure group for the disputed border area of Petserimaa, the Estonian name for what is currently Russia's Pskov Region, which formed part of pre-war Estonia] held a picket in front of the Russian embassy in Tallinn. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 5/11/95)
Jun 5, 1995 Approximately 238,000 foreigners [mainly Russians] had applied to the Citizenship and Immigration Department for residence permits. Between 29th May and 4th June, the department received 10,983 applications. At least 59.5 percent of foreigners in Estonia have applied for residence permits. In the [mainly Russian-speaking border] town of Narva, 80 percent of the foreigners have applied for the permits. The deadline for submitting applications for residence permits is 12th July. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 6/9/95)
Jun 7, 1995 The Narva Union of Russian Citizens has intensified its activities on behalf of Russian citizens in Estonia. Nearly 300 citizens of Russia held a meeting in the Rugodiv culture palace, where they drafted an open letter to the Estonian parliament which consisted of sharply-worded protests against "the continuing mockery of citizens of Russia in Estonia" which it blamed on Estonia's "strident national radicalism". On the same day, 30 non-citizens held a demonstration in the square in front of the Citizenship and Immigration Department building. They were also protesting against Estonia's mistreatment of Russians in Estonia. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 6/9/95)
Jun 13, 1995 There is less than a month to go before the deadline for residence permit applications for non-citizens expires. Up till now 250,000 individuals have applied, but it is thought that up to 100,000 will not apply. The Riigikogu [parliament] read a bill for the first time which, once adopted, will give the government the right to decide what to do with those [Russian -speaking] foreigners who will not observe the deadline for applying for residence permits. While deportation seems unlikely, the government has hinted to making living for those who do not obtain residence permits uncomfortable enough to either force them to apply for a permit, or leave Estonia. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 6/15/95)
Jun 14, 1995 Abdulakh Mikitayev, the chairman of Russia's presidential commission on citizenship, sent a letter to Estonian President Lennart Meri requesting his help in returning to Tallinn Petr Rozhok, a Russian national expelled from Estonia, Rozhok, a representative of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia was expelled from Estonia on 24th March for anti-constitutional activities and again on 4th June for breaking the terms of his visa. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 6/14/95)
Jul 3, 1995 Estonian President Lennart Meri promulgated the amended law on foreigners, amended law on state duties, and amended law on elections to the councils of local governments. According to the amended law, foreigners [mainly Russians] will be able to submit residency and work permit applications also after the 12th July deadline. Individuals who have not submitted applications before the deadline will retain their existing rights and obligations until 12th July 1996. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 7/6/95)
Jul 4, 1995 Campaigners for local Russian-speakers have been picketing the premises of the Estonian government and the headquarters of the OSCE. They are demanding that all ethnic Russians be granted permanent residence and that the government officially register the Apostolic Orthodox Church. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 7/4/95)
Nov 7, 1995 Several Russian-speaking organizations in the Baltic states set up the Russian-Speakers' Representative Assembly in the Baltic States in Tallinn. It will handle the non-indigenous population' s political, social and cultural problems. The strongest among the three Russian-speakers' parties in Estonia, the United People's Party of Estonia, failed to join the assembly, whose executive is made up of Russian-speaking deputies of the Estonian and Latvian parliaments. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 11/9/95)
Mar 5, 1996 There were 85,803 Russian citizens living in Estonia as of 1st March, according to the consular department of the Russian embassy in Tallinn. There are 35,710 Russian citizens living in the area served by the Narva consulate which covers Narva itself, and the districts of East and West Virumaa, an increase of 715 since 1st February. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 3/5/96)
Jul 12, 1996 Members of both the Narva branch of the United People's Party of Estonia and the trade union center picketed near the Narva citizenship and immigration office, and adopted an address to the president and parliament in which they call for aliens' passports to be issued. According to the address, Estonian residents who have no citizenship have been deprived of freedom of movement, freedom to use their assets, the opportunity to marry and much else besides. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 7/16/96) Estonian authorities have prolonged the validity of former Soviet passports for ethnic Russians, who are non-citizens of the Baltic republic, up to 30th November 1996. The validity of former Soviet passports was to expire today. An estimated 300,000 ethnic Russians in Estonia have already named this day as "black Friday" as it would have denied them the possibility to return to Estonia in the case of foreign travel. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 7/13/96)
Jul 16, 1996 The Estonian government approved a regulation concerning the command of the Estonian language for those working in the parliament and local councils. The law on the official language says deputies must be able to speak and understand Estonian and none of them has the right to demand an interpreter in the session hall, The law mandating that government business be conducted in Estonian will apply to local councils, even in Narva and Sillamae, where the vast majority of residents and council members are Russian. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 7/24/96)
Nov 13, 1996 The Russian Embassy in Estonia reports that the number of Russian citizens here continues to grow at the same rate. As of 1st October, 116,169 citizens of the Russian Federation were living in Estonia, of whom 1,350 obtained Estonian citizenship during September. Yuriy Mishin, one of the leaders of the Union of Russian Citizens, sees this fact as a time bomb. Some suggested solutions include the legalization of dual citizenship, or the amending of citizenship law so as to stipulate that all Russian citizens are permanent rather than temporary residents in Estonia. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 11/13/96)
Jan 20, 1997 The director-general of the Estonian Police Department, will allow policemen who apply for citizenship in the [mainly Russian-speaking] East Virumaa district until 1st January 1999 to learn Estonian. Previously it had been announced that 1/3 of the district's policemen, namely the ones who were not Estonian, were to be dismissed on February 1. But due to protests from the Russian community in Estonia, the director-general changed his position on the issue. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 1/20/97)
Feb 6, 1997 More than half of the 320 Tallinn-based members of the Russian Party in Estonia have decided to quit the party in protest against the actions of the party's chairman and governing council. The move comes in protest over a decision by the party's governing council to expel Igor Sedasev and his brother Viktor from the council. The Sedasevs have been leading the opposition within the party against its chairman, Nikolay Maspanov, unpopular among many members since he quit the Russian Faction in parliament. Maspanov's decision to walk out left the faction with only five members, one short of the minimum six MPs needed to form a faction, after which it automatically ceased to exist. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 2/6/97)
Feb 17, 1997 The Ministry of Culture has agreed to grant a broadcasting license to a Russian-language television channel. Although the Estonian Broadcasting Union's television section has stated that the launch of a Russian-language television station is unconstitutional, and will slow down integration of minorities into Estonian society, the Ministry of Culture feels that the Russian-language station will have a reverse effect. The Ministry claims that the station, once it has a broadcasting license, will be monitored by the state. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 2/17/97)
Apr 3, 1997 The results of a survey of noncitizens revealed that the young and those who are not citizens of Russia hold a significantly more positive view of the development of the Estonian state than older people and Russian citizens. Of the interviewees between 18 and 29 years of age, 62 per cent approved of the direction of Estonia's development. Of the citizens of Russia, only 36 percent held the same view. Of the non-citizens, 65 per cent insist that the economic situation was better during the Soviet period than it is now. The same proportion, however, agreed that the standard of living in today's Estonia is higher than in Russia. Of the noncitizens, 94 per cent think that the law on citizenship should be changed. About 80 per cent of the noncitizens want Estonian citizenship for their children. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 3/5/97)
Jun 19, 1997 Estonian authorities have expelled from Estonia a former Russian soldier, Yevgeniy Zobnin, who is married to an Estonian citizen. The reason given for the refusal to grant a residence permit to Zobnin - that he has been included in the reserves of the Russian armed forces - is artificial, since former Russian officers living in foreign countries are not, under Russian law, to be called up or mobilized. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 6/19/97)
Aug 13, 1997 The Tallinn Union of Russian Citizens [TVKL] thinks that the refusal to grant residence permits to retired servicemen and the registration of illegal residents could lead to a civil war in Estonia. A press release, signed on behalf of the board of the TVKL by Petr Rozhok and Oleg Morozov, notes that the Estonian leadership, headed by President Lennart Meri, is now considered an enemy of the Russian people and the Russian Federation. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 8/13/97)
Sep 14, 1997 Russian deputies in the Riigikogu [Estonian parliament] sent a letter to President Lennart Meri, asking him not to sign a law which would close all Russian-language high schools in Estonia by 2007. According to the bill passed by the Riigikogu on 10th September, the formerly Russian-language high schools would then teach only in Estonian, and Russian-language education would be preserved for the 7-16 age group. Supporters of the bill claim that they have already compromised with Russian interests by changing the proposed bill which originally called for the closing of Russian-language high schools in 1997 to 2007. They claim keeping Russian-language schools open will only promote bilingualism and rifts in Estonian society. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 9/16/97)
Oct 27, 1997 A group of former members of the Russian Party in Estonia have set up a new party in Tallinn, the Russian Unity Party. First and foremost, the Russian Unity Party intends to help to bring together political structures that protect the interests of the Russian-speaking population of Estonia. Above all, the Russian Unity Party wants to ensure that the non-indigenous population of Estonia have the same rights as the Estonians, and, primarily, the right to obtain basic education in their own language. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 10/25/97)
Dec 11, 1997 The Riigikogu passed a new law which concerns non-citizens who have an Estonian residence permit but spend more than 183 days a year in other countries. Their residence permits will be made invalid if they fail to register before their departure abroad in line with the procedure operating in the Republic of Estonia. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 12/11/97)
Jan 5, 1998 Estonian President Lennart Meri for the second time has refused to sign a draft law on amendments to the law "On the language" on the grounds that the document is unconstitutional. The draft law grants the government "supreme powers" to test prospective deputies fluency in Estonian, and verify the progress in language education of deputies currently working in parliament. Meri said. This "contradicts the principles of a law-governed state and fails to ensure legal justice" (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 1/5/98)
Jan 24, 1998 The Estonian Defense Forces General Staff intends to implement a project in the near future to teach Russian-speaking conscripts Estonian. The project is supported by international organizations. Its immediate aim is to integrate Russian-speaking youngsters into Estonian society. Currently about 15 per cent of fixed-term conscripts in Estonia do not speak the state language, despite being citizens of the republic. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 3/12/98)
Jan 30, 1998 The Estonian security police have instituted criminal proceedings against two leaders of the Russian Citizens' Union, Eduard Shaumyan and Oleg Morozov. They are accused of inciting political and ethnic hostility and, in particular, of organizing unauthorized rallies by pensioners at which at first economic demands were put forward and then anti-Estonian ones. If the leaders of Estonia's Russian -speaking community are found guilty, they face punishment in the form of a fine, arrest or imprisonment for up to one year. (Source: BBC Worldwide Monitoring, 1/30/98)
Mar 10, 1998 A draft amendment tabled by Russian deputies last year that would have given the right to obtain citizenship without a language examination to spouses of Estonian citizens, pensioners, disabled people, minors, and persons who had settled in Estonia before 1st July 1990 and have been granted permanent residence permits has been excluded from the Riigikogu's agenda, following a proposal from the Fatherland Alliance. The ruling government was also opposed to the draft amendment because it would have created a large number of citizens who did not speak Estonian. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 3/12/98)
May 12, 1998 A Victory Day rally was held at Tonismae, in Tallinn. More than 1,000 people commemorating The Soviet victory over the Nazis attended the rally. The meeting was attended by Petry Rozhok, Oleg Morozov, both leaders of the pro-Soviet organization, Interfront, and some of the Russian deputies of the Riigikogu. No arrests or violence was reported. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 5/12/98)
Jun 6, 1998 The Russian faction, made up of members of the Russian Unity Party, the Russian Party in Estonia, and the United People's Party of Estonia, was restored in the Riigikogu today. All six Riigikogu members who were previously in the faction are in it again. Nikolay Maspanov, the chairman of the Russian Party in Estonia, was elected chairman of the new faction, with Igor Sedasev, the deputy chairman of the Russian Unity Party, elected deputy chairman. The Russian faction set up by the deputies elected to parliament from the Our Home is Estonia electoral alliance fell apart in December 1996 owing to differences of opinion between the Russian Party in Estonia and the Russian Unity Party. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 6/6/98)
Jun 30, 1998 A public organization of Russian citizens living in Estonia - the Union of Citizens of Russia - has been officially registered in Estonia. The new organization is a nonpolitical structure. It intends to attend to social, economic and humanitarian problems faced by Russian citizens in Estonia and promote contacts between the Russian embassy and ethnic Russians living in Estonia. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 7/3/98)
Aug 5, 1998 The security police press service announced that Lidia Kazanova, Helve Truusa, Jesa Schur, and Yuriy Mishin have been charged with setting up unauthorized rallies, at which speakers put forward political demands, and accused the authorities of discriminating against ethnic Russians. Schur, who is the head of the pensioners' union of Sillamae has also been charged with fanning ethnic and political enmity and calling for violence. If found guilty, each of the four could be fined and imprisoned for up to a year. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 8/7/98)
Sep 29, 1998 The government has refused to grant Estonian citizenship to 69 individuals who had worked for the KGB. The government also refused to grant Estonian citizenship to 36 Russian retired military men and their spouses. (Source: BBC Worldwide Monitoring, 9/30/98)
Nov 23, 1998 The Citizenship and Immigration Department reported that as of 1st July Estonia had 1,075,209 citizens, and that the number of residents [including those without citizenship] at the beginning of 1998 was 1,453,844. As of 1st January, ethnic Estonians constituted 65.1 per cent of the whole population, ethnic Russians 28.2 per cent, Ukrainians 2.6 per cent, Belarusians 1.5 per cent, Finns 0.9 per cent, Jews, Tatars, Germans and Lithuanians 0.2 per cent each and people of other ethic backgrounds 0.9 per cent. Of the citizens, 81 per cent were ethnic Estonians,14 per cent ethnic Russians, one per cent Ukrainians and 4 per cent other. There were 8,849 retired Soviet servicemen and 7,367 members of their families residing in Estonia on 1st July. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 11/27/98)
Dec 11, 1998 Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin has expressed satisfaction with the amendments to the Estonian law on citizenship, which allow the children of non-Estonians born after 26th February 1992 to become citizens. (Source: BBC Worldwide Monitoring, 12/12/98)
Dec 15, 1998 The Riigikogu [parliament] today adopted a law establishing language skill requirements for the members of the Riigikogu and local councils. The amendments to the law on elections to the Riigikogu, the law on elections to local councils and the language law were adopted with 59 votes in favor, with five Russian deputies voting against. The amendments stipulate that members of both the Riigikogu and local councils should have a command of Estonian, which is sufficient to take part in the work of the institution and to understand the contents of legislation. The amendments will not come into effect without the President's signature. The Russian speaking community of Estonia has already begun submitting petitions and letters of grievance to the president, which beg President Meri not to sign the amendment because it is unconstitutional and discriminatory. (Source: BBC Worldwide Monitoring, 12/15/98)
Jan 7, 1999 In Estonia 100 policemen have been fired for failing a state language examination which they have to pass in order to receive Estonian citizenship. It is believed that the same fate awaits hundreds of other ethnic Russians serving in Estonian law enforcement positions. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 1/7/99)
Feb 18, 1999 Estonian President Lennart Meri signed the controversial amendments to the language law despite protests from Russian parties. The amendments were ratified by the Riigikogu on Tuesday [9th February] and they demand knowledge of Estonian from shop attendants and market vendors. Self-employed persons must also know sufficient Estonian to offer their services or goods. Also the new language amendments will cost the Russian population of Estonia an estimated 3 million kroons, because it will cost around 200 kroons for each Russian to take a language examination to prove they have sufficient knowledge of the Estonian language. (BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 2/12/99)
Mar 9, 1999 The United People's Party, a Russian-speaking party will have six seats in the newly elected 101 seat Riigikogu [parliament]. (BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 3/9/99)
Mar 16, 1999 A lower level court in Parnu found Vasiliy Beskov, a Russian guilty of crimes against humanity for his role in the mass deportation of Estonians to Siberia in 1949, and gave him a suspended sentence of eight years in prison. A Russian government spokesman released a statement charging the Estonian government with discrimination, because the government is actively seeking out and trying Russians guilty of crimes against humanity, but has made no effort to bring to justice former Nazi war criminals living in Estonia. A representative of the Estonian government claims that there are no Nazi war criminals in Estonia. (Source: BBC Summary of World Events, 3/18/99)
May 12, 1999 An Estonian-Russian parliamentary group was set up in the Riigikogu [Estonian parliament] today. Juri Adams from the Fatherland Alliance was elected the chairman of the group with 19 votes in favor. The other candidate, Sergei Ivanov from the United People's Party of Estonia faction gained 15 votes in favor and became deputy chairman of the group. The 35-strong Estonian-Russian parliamentary group is the largest friendship group in the Riigikogu. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 5/14/99)
May 21, 1999 Estonia's parliament passed in a first reading amendments to the law on elections for local governments, which give to about 300,000 non-native Estonians, many of whom are Russians, an opportunity to participate in the municipal polls scheduled for 17th October, regardless of what kind of residence permit they have, temporary or permanent. Before, the right to vote was enjoyed by as few as 10 per cent of non-native Estonians having permanent residence permits only. At the same time, these amendments introduce an article envisaging stricter language proficiency requirements for members of municipal Estonian bodies and candidates for election to such bodies. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 5/26/99)
Jun 8, 1999 The Russian Party in Estonia today re-elected Nikolai Maspanov its chairman. The centre-left party has 1,250 members. The 12th congress of the party, held in Tartu, expelled from the party the organizers of a parallel congress in May, headed by Lembit Annus. The Russian Party in Estonia also signed an election pact with the United People's Party. The former failed to win seats in the last election. The latter won six. Both parties are hoping that through a coalition they can gain a larger parliamentary influence. (BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 6/8/99)
Jul 14, 1999 The Estonian government is expected to adopt an implementation act to the amended the language law on July 20th which Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves claims fully corresponds to the requirements of international organizations, including the EU and OSCE. Under the citizenship law amendments effective from the beginning of the month, all people working in the service sector (business corporations, nonprofit organizations and sole traders) must be able to communicate with clients in Estonian. The amendments to the language law, which were promulgated in February and came into effect as of July, have met with sharp criticism from political parties of Estonia's Russian -speakers, the Russian Foreign Ministry and the OSCE high commissioner for national minorities. Max van der Stoel. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 7/19/99)
Aug 4, 1999 The Russian nationalist leader, Oleg Morozov was arrested and sentenced to 20 days in jail for allegedly staying illegally in Estonia. The Citizenship and Immigration Department informed him he must leave the country in July because he was an illegal resident. Authorities claim because he did not do this that he was arrested. Morozov, the leader of the Tallinn Union of Russian Citizens claims he should not have to request a residence permit to stay in Estonia because he was born and raised there, and had always lived there with his wife and three children. He alleges that the arrest was done to scare political activists like himself, and he is asking to be declared a political prisoner. He has also gone on a hunger strike in protest of the government's actions. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 8/4/99)

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