Soviet era nostalgia feeds the denial of the occupation


Last week, the Estonian media received much attention on the topic of the occupation of Estonia by the USSR during World War II.

On Tuesday, July 20, Eesti Päevaleht wrote about the plea of Alla Delovaja, a Narva politician and member of EKRE, to celebrate “Narva Liberation Day”, meaning the occupation of the city by Soviet forces in 1944. The advertisement for the multi-day series of events never mentions the occupation that began with this event or the activities of the Red Army, which leveled the city.

On Thursday, July 22, Postimees wrote about the website of the Narva Museum, which contained the sentence “Estonia joined the Soviet Union”. The topic that started with Eerik-Niiles Kross’s Facebook post quickly reached the point where the incorrectly worded sentence was corrected.

The observation of the Estonian Institute of Memory that the Russian text on the monument at Toompea avoids naming the occupation fits into the same topic.

The Kremlin’s propaganda media has not caught up with these cases, the monitoring robot Propamon has found only one mention on the topic on the Regnum portal. However, denying the occupation and proposing Estonia’s accession to the USSR as a volunteer is the rationale of the propaganda media, which was last seen in connection with the great wave of propaganda in July.

In Russia, the law stipulates that the Soviet Union’s activities during World War II must be described as liberation. Thus, it can be certain that “memory wars” based on different approaches to history may be encountered in the media in the future as well.

Propaganda media idealizes the Soviet era
The Kremlin’s propagandists tend to perpetuate Soviet nostalgia. The Soviet period is viewed on a human level and it is claimed that life was very beautiful and abundant at that time. Thus, Sputnik Media, the Estonian branch of Kremlin propaganda, has conducted a series of interviews in which, for example, Jaak Allik and Märt Sults express their respective thoughts. (Propastop does not provide direct references to Sputnik to avoid an increase in visits to this propaganda publication). Read why Propastop considers such a contribution to the work of hostile propaganda channels unacceptable.

Last week, there was a specific case on this topic, when on July 23, the Delfi business section wrote about EAS’ Soviet tourism advertisement aimed at Finns.

The spread of Soviet nostalgia is in some ways even more dangerous than an explicit denial of occupation. Direct statements are easy to spot and answer. Nostalgia, be it in the form of praising Soviet life, enjoyment of music, movies, serials, or even CCCP-style jerseys, is much harder to spot. Yet these soft-power tools support hostile narratives about the so-called liberation and voluntary accession to the Soviet Union by Estonia.

Read more:

Mythbreaker: Estonia did not join the Soviet Union voluntarily

Mythbreaker: In 1944, Estonia was not liberated, but was conquered

Images: screenshots of the articles referenced in the story.