Skip to content

Let the Russians whine

London’s Independent reports that Estonia has dismissed a Russian schoolteacher who refused to learn the language of his new country:

Estonia intensified its controversial campaign to dilute the influence of Russia, its former colonial master, yesterday by firing a prominent Russian-speaking teacher for his failure to master Estonian.

Ah, the other lefty newsrag in London weeps for the little guy, picked on by the big bad meanies in that warmongering right-wing xanadu, Estonia. *sniffle*

In a move that Russian rights activists fear may be a sign of things to come, …

(may it be so!)

… Mikhail Mikhalchenko was sacked from his job as head teacher in a prestigious Russian-speaking high school in the town of Narva which borders Russia.
He had been visited by Estonian language inspectors who have the right to test any worker’s linguistic skills and to fire them if they are found wanting.
Under Estonian law, every worker must speak Estonian and sit an exam to obtain a certificate confirming their skills. The legislation is designed to encourage the large number of ethnic Russians, who made the country their home during the post-war Soviet occupation period, to return to Russia or integrate completely.
Estonian nationalists say the legislation is reasonable, but Russian rights activists claim the language laws amount to discrimination and a breach of human rights.

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Mr Mikhalchenko, who had been in his position at the school for 16 years, spoke little Estonian – like the other half a million ethnic Russians living in the Baltic state.

“What? Me, adapt?” You haven’t been in the USSR for 13 of those 16 years, perse auk. The arrogance of former communists knows no bounds.

The Russian news agency Itar-Tass said this was the first time that a Russian-speaking teacher had been sacked for having poor skills in the Estonian language, and poured scorn on the move.

Bravo, Estonia. Protect your culture, because nobody else will.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry is also likely to wade in. Ethnic Russians make up almost a third of tiny Estonia’s population of 1.5 million, and the agency said that Narva was an overwhelmingly Russian-speaking town.
“The population of Estonia’s third largest town [Narva] is 96 per cent Russian,” it said. “It’s extremely rare to hear Estonian spoken there.”

Excuse me while I check my surprise-o-meter. *tap* *tap* Hmmm, nothing.
96 percent Russian, huh? Imagine that. I wonder if that might have something to do with the fact that the Red Army rolled over Estonia in WWII, flattened Narva and other cities, slaughtered thousands of their citizens, sent thousands of surviving residents to the Gulag Archipelago, and moved in a horde of Russians to erase all traces of Estonian language and culture?
Both sides of my family hightailed it out of Estonia and Latvia as WWII started to wind down, because they knew the communists were even worse than the Nazis. My maternal grandmother walked to Germany, fortunately found herself on our side of the Iron Curtain, met my grandfather in a refugee camp, married, and eventually reached America. She was an English teacher and he was a Latvian Army NCO. Had they stayed put, she would have been sent somewhere rather chilly and somewhat east of her home (think “Kamchatka”). He would have been led to a deserted place and shot in the back of the head (think “Katyn Forest”).
My father and his parents boogied out of Estonia by sea, taking one of the last ships fleeing Tallinn for Germany. My paternal grandfather was from a middle-class merchant family (the dreaded “bourgeoisie”), so his prospects of survival were bleak if he’d chosen to stay. Let’s not forget that the “poor downtrodden Russians” living in places like Narva were moved into real estate vacated by whole families of Estonians who didn’t get out in time and got one-way tickets to Siberia. Guilt by association, doncha know. The proletarian revolutionary omelette required a few broken eggs.

The agency complained that the language inspectors did not take into account the fact that Mr Mikhalchenko taught in Russian rather than Estonian, nor of his abilities to manage the school.

Pardon my utter lack of sympathy, but you barbarians had about 50 years to work your special magic on the Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians … and boy did that go swimmingly. Your time’s past. When in Estonia, do as the Estonians do. You can always go back to mother Russia, you sniveling ingrate. Äbarik.
When the wussy Russians win the wife-carrying competition, maybe we’ll talk.
Hat tip: NRO’s Andrew Sullivan