In Estonia, rampant Russophobia puts democracy to the test

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Political scientist Tõnis Saarts wrote after the Bronze Night that a new, more closed and less dynamic model of society has emerged in Estonia, which he called “nationalist defensive democracy”. This model is characterised by forceful conservative nationalism: Russophobia, a focusing of political debate on questions of memory, past history, monuments and the interpretation of historical events.

Another important element of this regime is the “securitisation” of politics: the removal of certain issues from the public debate so that, instead of a plurality of views, all opinions are labeled as either correct or treasonous.

The events of the last few months have shown that nationalist defensive democracy remains vibrant in Estonia. The fate of Soviet-era monuments has become a matter of national importance, which is being analysed by a secret committee within the Government Office.

Estonia’s largest universities have decided not to admit Russian and Belarusian students, and Estonia, along with Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, will refuse entry (with some exceptions) to Russian citizens holding short-term tourist visas for the Schengen zone, irrespective of the country where the visa has been issued. Estonia is also calling for a visa ban for Russian citizens at EU level. 

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