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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Estonia Pokes Another Finger in Russia's Eyeball

More clear proof of Russia's utter diplomatic failure in the Baltics. A few days ago Estonia held parliamentary elections (it is noteworthy that for the first time anywhere in the world these elections included the use of Internet voting) and the big winner was the anti-Russian Reform party (this follows closely on the heels of Estonia electing a U.S.-educated, anti-Russian president. Itching for Estonia reports on the lies being told about Estonia in the Russian press in the wake of the election:

Pravda is viewing Reform's victory as an "anti-Russian" victory. Which I guess means they support Keskerakond [another party vying for seats in the election].

Russians are still really worried about their monument in Tallinn, and Kommersant dispatched correspondents to learn about those involved in deciding its fate.

It's kind of funny how they weave themselves into everything. I guess they need to make Estonia interesting for their readers. The American media similarly plays up Toomas Hendrik Ilves' US-education. I wonder if the German media quotes Germans living in Estonia too. Perhaps the Swedish media managed to dig up some rannarootlased to ask them their opinions.

Speaking of Russian media, I found a number of facts stated in this Itar-Tass story to be false or outdated. A lot of information circulating about Estonia is often incorrect or old, so it's not just Tass' problem. But for the benefit of mankind, I've decided to straighten a few things out.

TASS: Estonia has a population of slightly more than 1.4 million.

REALITY: According to preliminary data from the Estonian Statistical Office, as of Jan. 1, 2007, there were 1,342,000 people living in Estonia.

TASS: 20% of residents are denied voting rights as non-citizens.

REALITY: According to the Estonian Ministry of Population Affairs, as of Dec. 31, 2006, 125,799 residents of Estonia still lacked citizenship. My trusty calculator tells me that 125,799 divided by 1,342,000 equals .0937, or that non-citizens make up 9.37 percent of the population in Estonia. Currently, some 7.4 percent of Estonian residents are citizens of the Russian Federation. They get to vote in Russian elections AND in Estonian municipal elections. Still, 9.37 + 7.4 = 16.77. Either way, Tass' assessment is false.

TASS: The majority of non-citizens are ethnic Russians.

REALITY: While I have no numbers on this one, I take it as fact. Good job, Tass.

TASS: Therefore, two-thirds of 300,000 Estonian Russians are barred from elections.

REALITY: The latest figures on ethnicity show 345,000 ethnic Russians in Estonia as of Jan. 1, 2006, or 25.66 of the total population. Still, 16.77 divided by 25.66 is 65.33, which is - just barely - not exactly two-thirds, but, hey, who are we to punish Tass on this one. I mean it's almost true, which is better than most of the stuff they publish.

The big fact left out is that we are only talking about parliamentary elections here. All of these residents - be they stateless or Russian Federation citizens - can vote in municipal elections.

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