A member of Russia's upper house of parliament and chair of its international affairs committee Monday deplored what he described as tolerance for neo-Nazism in Estonia and accused the country's political elites of encouraging it.
"Neo-Nazism is an everyday phenomenon in Estonia, and it is supported by particular elements in power that even display open sympathy for the Nazis," Federation Council member Mikhail Margelov said. Margelov referred specifically to a message sent by Estonian Defense Minister Urmas Reinsalu to a gathering of the Estonian Freedom Fighter Union, a group representing people who fought against what Tallinn calls "occupational regimes," including Soviet forces, sometimes alongside Nazi troops.
According to a statement posted on the Estonian Defense Ministry website on July 6, Reinsalu praised those who "kept the ideals of liberty alive during the difficult occupation years" and noted that "Estonia has repeatedly and unequivocally condemned the repressive policies of the Soviet Union and National Socialist Germany."
Margelov, however, accused the Estonian defense minister of "glorifying the SS," the Nazi military force responsible for crimes against humanity during WWII, because Reinsalu also justified those who fought in the "resistance … wearing a foreign uniform."
In the two decades since the independence of the Baltic states was restored, some local WWII-era partisan movements have been honored in their home countries — traditionally to the outrage of Russian officials.
Margelov also accused the European Union, of which Estonia is a member, of overlooking what he called the country's pro-Nazi trends and urged the EU to reconsider its approach.