Estonia. The battle over the so-called Bronze Soldier in
Tallinn last year cast its shadow over Estonia. Four
Estonian Russians were charged with prosecution for
organizing the violent riots in connection with the
relocation of the Soviet war monument. The prosecutors
declared themselves innocent and the trial was extended.
Surveys have shown strangers between the Estonian
majority and the Russian minority. 65 percent of esters and
39 percent of non-esters lacked mutual contacts. The
attitude hardened after the country's president Toomas
Hendrik Ilves said in a foreign interview that there is no
more reason to speak Russian in Estonia than to speak
English, Urdu or Japanese.
Countryaah reports, the statue battle also had financial consequences. Due to
unofficial Russian boycott, Estonia's railways had lost
almost half of their freight volumes in one year. At the
Ministry of the Economy, it was estimated that the statue
fight had direct and indirect consequences for the
equivalent of SEK 4 billion.
At the same time, Estonia's economy slowed down. After
double-digit growth, Estonia entered a recession. The
forecasts for the year talked about a few percent decline
for the economy, since the overheated construction and real
estate market has stopped. According to economists,
unrealistic growth had been driven by the Swedish-owned
banks' extensive lending at low interest rates.
The Swedish government's crisis package for the banks was
greeted with relief in Estonia, where Swedbank's and SEB's
subsidiaries accounted for four-fifths of the lending.
The war between Russia and Georgia in August strengthened
Estonia's attitude towards Moscow. Together with Poland,
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania claimed that the EU President
France's plan for resolving the Georgia conflict did not
show sufficient respect for Georgia's territorial integrity.
Estonia also proposed that Georgia and Ukraine be
immediately included in NATO as a result of the war, and
some politicians wanted NATO to establish bases in Estonia.
Russia was accused of distributing Russian passports to
stateless people in the Narva area. At the same time,
statistics showed that more than twice as many Estonian
Russians applied for Russian citizenship as Estonian during
the year since the statue battle.
In September, a centrally located spy was revealed. The
man had been responsible for the protection of state secrets
and NATO secrets at the Defense Ministry in Tallinn, and he
was suspected of having spied for Russia for a long time.