vene kapital

Situation needs urgent solution

It is not possible to support Ukraine with one hand tied to Russian money – that is clear. Both the case of the NGO Slava Ukraini and the continued flirtation of some Estonian entrepreneurs with Russian capital show that not everyone understands the reality of Ukraine.

Just imagine if we ourselves were under attack in Estonia and discovered that companies indirectly linked to members of the Latvian government, for example, were doing legitimate business in Russia, which was committing both war crimes and crimes against humanity in Estonia.

However, in the scandal that has erupted over business activities on Russian soil, the greatest threat to the Estonian society is getting used to confusing explanations and legally correct but amoral schemes. The business case that has continued in Russia must therefore be seen alongside the other political cases of the summer of 2023.

The data scandal (breach of GDPR), the saga of the financing of the president’s office and the crisis of democracy surrounding the Estonian prime minister, where people’s trust in the state is at stake, all speak of a deepening democracy crisis in Estonia.

It is in the interest of society that these cases are resolved as quickly, substantively and thoroughly as possible, because there are major relevant issues that require urgent attention. For example, the 30+ years old non-existent civil defence, still simmering on a steady fire, and the internal security funding crisis (inclduing the salary issue of police and rescue workers).

At the same time, we are confronted with the greatest security threat of our time that demands our full attention. The political turmoil of the day, combined with the above, is water under the bridge for a Russia that does not hesitate to exploit weaknesses.

Getting used to the disappearance of the democratic value space is comparable to boiling the well-known frog. Or the way in which people become accustomed to a receding nature and to clear-cutting in such a way that one day when they wake up they will no longer notice the absence of nature. This is what happened with the emergence of hybridity in Hungary, where change did not happen overnight.

Probably the only good thing about this whole story is that we have seen the results of the first-class work of journalists. That is what we need to counteract the undemocratic phenomena – a very high-quality free journalism. However, in view of the role of the press as an ambassador of the public, we should give serious thought to the fact that Estonia fell from fifth to 17th place in the press freedom index this year.

Reporters Without Borders, which compiled the report, noted that “laws protecting personal data have recently become an excuse for the Estonian authorities to increasingly restrict media access to public information”. With all this in mind, we should seriously ask – where are we heading? And do we really want to return to it?

× The opinion piece was published on 29.08.2023 on the Delfi web portal and served as a question of the day on 30.08.2023 in the paper edition of Eesti Päevaleht. Photo: Russian capital (Dmitry Sidorov/Pexels, 2021).

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