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NEXT SONG FESTIVAL TO OPEN WITH AN ODE TO LATVIA AS THANKS FOR INEXPENSIVE VODKA

Estonia’s next Song Celebrations are set to open with some collective quavering in Latvian in a doffing of the hat to our southern neighbours for their cheap vodka – onto the bandwagon of which even seasoned songstress Kihnu Virve has leapt, belying the 90 years she recently chalked up. 

Although we’ve never shown a great deal of respect for Latvians (after all, they wanted to take the island of Ruhnu from us, by force! So what if they have no island of their own? In the sea at any rate) (and besides, their economic policy’s always been bungling) (and they’re just worse than us generally), credit where credit’s due: patting someone on the back who tags along behind but is never really in medal contention shows how magnanimous the winner is.

Where Russians are concerned, on the other hand, there is no such magnanimity. Of the 330,000 Russians who live in Estonia (as opposed to the 383,118 Russian speakers who reside here), 94,000 of them are Russian citizens. They are enemies of the state to whom introducing our culture is pointless. In fact not only is it pointless, it is something we must not do. It would be treason.

They have their own TV channels, they live in the wrong information sphere and they elect the wrong politicians. Let them suffer; let them do their time (if they don’t leave), like they do in prison. We can let them out for walks, but no more than an hour a day. Let ETV+ shine down on them from above, providing as much illumination as your average Estonian skiing weather on any warm, partly cloudy night in November or March when the city lights are switched off.

Estonia’s no refugee camp where all and sundry are welcome Angela Merkel-style. It’s a nature conservation area populated by the Estonian: a subspecies faced with the threat of extinction whose number will soon be up. And even that number will be in Latvian.

Hats off to Latvia: they don’t raise hell


Estonians aren’t as narrow-minded as Russians, who turned the vast majority of our 20th-century song festivals into farces with their songs of propaganda in a foreign language. We’re magnanimous towards those to whom we doff our hats. And right now it’s hats off to Latvia. True, Latvians make up a mere 0.14% of the population of Estonia compared to the 25.2% of Russians, but they don’t kick up the sort of stink that we ourselves sometimes do.

It’s banal to even think that everyone should like us. You 383,118 Russian speakers – learn Estonian, the way we’ve learnt Russian! And if you don’t like it, stay away from the Song Celebrations. It might be fiddling while Rome burns, but at least there’ll be fiddles! We don’t want to live in Russia, even though we know all the Russian authors and read their books.

How can they possibly not know that Tammsaare was a greater writer than Tolstoy or Dostoevsky?! Where is truth and justice? Come here to make hay while the sun shines, did you? Watch ‘November’, read Kivirähk and perhaps then you’ll understand what shit tastes like – that beautiful Estonian word, sitt, so beloved of Kihnu Virve and deemed worthy of a special place in Rainer Sarnet’s brilliant big-screen take on the niggardliness of our souls and the shittiness of our nature.

What can one say about the lack of a Russian-language song at the Song Celebrations but – in the vein of Virve, Kivirähk and Sarnet – “no shit!”. There will undoubtedly come a time when again we find ourselves singing songs we then look back on and claim we didn’t want to sing. In a filthy red language. In a language that no truly intelligent, truly great figure has ever written. Because language is a political tool. Like a flag. Like a coat of arms. That Qoheleth the Collector in Ecclesiastes was a nasty piece of work. Or perhaps he was just clever. All that has been shall be once again.