Boys not from our neighborhood

25.09.2023

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A dark blue BMW E60 car bearing the words “I am Russian” and “Department for Combating Nazism” on its exterior was spotted driving around Tallinn, sparking significant debates on social media and widespread public discontent. Many people in Estonia viewed these stickers as a deliberate provocation. However, Pavel, the driver, informed the Limon.ee portal that, following a discussion with the police, “If the stickers are still on the car, it means they have just conducted an inspection!” Nevertheless, the situation took a turn when the creator of the TikTok channel “777spd” began distributing stickers with the message “I am Russian,” leading to a change in the circumstances.

From sparks to flames

The entire narrative is well-organized and presented chronologically on the rus.postimees.ee portal.

Latvian journalist Aleksey Stefanov, acting as a watchman for Estonian activists, reacted to these reports:

However, as the weekend progressed, this activity evolved into an ideological event indicating a certain level of organization. Russian propaganda has labelled this flash mob as “an initiative by motorists in support of the Russian people”:

 

Explanations from supporters of the action with clear ideological theses began to spread on Facebook:

The publication of Russian compatriots published propaganda material about the action of the “boys” with clearly stated ideological theses:

As a result, it is evident that this event carried strong ideological undertones. It remains a subject of inquiry whether the authorities in our country are aware of whether this event was a premeditated propaganda act aimed at highlighting a stance against EU sanctions on the import of Russian goods, specifically the entry and import of vehicles with Russian license plates. Alternatively, it could have been an initiative either spontaneously or intentionally organized by local activists.

Subsequent developments fundamentally altered the nature of the situation. According to rus.postimees.ee, upon spotting the car, a Ukrainian flag was displayed in a residential building’s window, prompting a group of individuals to hurl stones at the house window. After some time, one letter was removed from the message on the car’s window. Taavi Kirss, the head of the police traffic enforcement department, confirmed this account, stating that the sticker on the car was considered provocative and was subsequently removed by the car’s owner.

In the eyes of an ordinary Estonian, what transpired appeared to be an extension of a historical and deeply rooted issue known as the “Russian World.” Under grand imperial ambitions, the actions of the provocateurs mentioned earlier were indulged, all under the guise of slogans like “I am Russian.” However, a figure with a brick in hand emerged, symbolizing a simple display of intolerance and hooliganism. This can be seen as a consequence of the situation.

Who has started the fire?

An article by Anton Kebekov exposes the person who started the “I AM RUSSIAN” flash mob. Pavel S., a 25-year-old resident of Tallinn, has been identified through publicly available information. His history includes criminal charges for physical violence, including against a woman, resulting in a suspended sentence. Despite this, he continued to commit various crimes, including fraudulently obtaining loans using others’ personal data. His actions led to claims against him, demanding tens of thousands of euros from the founder of the “tier” movement.

Pavel is also involved in business, but his company’s track record is marked by financial troubles, tax debts, unfiled reports, and restrictions on share disposal due to bailiff action. He attempted to work legally as a Bolt Food courier, but there were doubts about his background.

Pavel is known for seeking attention, occasionally live-streaming on TikTok while neglecting road safety measures. His communication style is described as arrogant and self-confident. Notably, the blue BMW associated with him does not belong to him.

Pavel and his followers represent a segment of Russian-speaking residents in Estonia who, during the country’s transition to independence, chose not to adapt to the new socio-economic conditions. Instead, they were influenced by Russian media, which promoted the idea of belonging to the “Russian world” and instilled certain values, including sexism, chauvinism, and homophobia. This strong tie of self-worth to national identity, similar to historical precedents, is largely unique to Russians. Pavel and his followers embody the consequences of choices made by some Russian speakers in Estonia decades ago, emphasizing the need for a more nuanced approach to identity and self-worth. It also suggests that this approach is distinctively Russian, contrasting with other national identities that do not overtly brand individuals in a similar manner. As Anton Kebekov rightfully states, “Nothing to be proud of? Put an “I am Russian!” sticker on your car!”

The Estonian police are urging people to report any sightings of a car bearing such a sticker in their area.

The images used are screenshots from the referenced pages.