RUSSIA’S SLOW DEVOURING of East Ukraine, after its abridged Crimean “reunification,” has not gone unnoticed among the Estonian youth, who are otherwise occupied, as we all are, by the fascinating glow of the iPad screen, in putting new applications to good use, and sometimes whiling away dreary April days playing Nyan Cat.
Yet unbeknownst to Comrade Putin, Comrade Lavrov, et al., is the way in which their land grab has aroused long dormant anti-Russian feelings in the young people of the Baltic Rim. These are children who are vaguely aware that their country was not always as it is, though cannot quite understand how it was different before it came to be as it is. Yet they have come to loathe Russia — not fear it — but strongly dislike it, the same way one might feel about a bout of gastrointestinal distress, “Oh, darn, that Russia, I just hate it when that happens.”
The eldest of my daughter trio has voiced such opinion to me. “Ugh. Russia? I hate Russia.” “Why do you hate Russia?” “Hmph. Russia has the most land in the world and they want more land. They’re just greedy.” End of statement. It reminded me of Mano, a fine young Viljandi chap, who once informed me that going to Moscow, even for vacation, could be life threatening. “Don’t you know? Didn’t you hear? Haven’t you realized?” Mano accosted me. “They kill Estonians in Russia.” This is what Estonian children are telling each other, mind you. I rarely hear a parent mutter the “R word” aloud. Thanks to Moscow’s actions though, irritable, anti-Russian feeling is being bred into a brand new generation of Western neighbors.
Our second eldest daughter, aged 7, is not immune from such whispering and rumor sharing. She too knows that Russia is bad. She said so. “I don’t like Russia. Russia is just bad.” “Why do you think that Russia is bad? The people in Russia are just like you and me. It’s just their leadership who are bad.” This reasoning had no apparent effect. “But … but Russia is the biggest country in the world, Daddy,” said the second eldest. “They have so much land and now they want more in Ukraine. It’s just too much land, Daddy. Too much land.”