Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard at Stalker Zone
Now, the Baltic states consist of three countries – Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, which received sovereignty in the course of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Each of these states position themselves, respectively, as the national states of Latvians, Lithuanians, and Estonians. Nationalism in the Baltic countries was raised to the level of a state policy, which explains the numerous examples of the discrimination of the Russian and Russian-speaking population.
Meanwhile, if to figure this out, it becomes clear that the Baltic countries are typical “replica states” with the absence of their own political history and tradition. Of course not, the states in the Baltic region existed before, but it’s not at all Latvians or Estonians that created them.
What did the Baltic region represent before its lands were included in the structure of the Russian Empire? Before the 13th century, when the German knights/crusaders started conquering the Baltic region, it was a complete and utter “zone of tribes”. Here lived the Baltic and Finno-Ugric tribes, which didn’t have their own statehood and professed paganism.
Thus, modern Latvians as a people appeared as a result of a merger of the Baltic region (Latgalians, Semigallians, Selonians, Curonians) and Finno-Ugric (Livonians) tribes. At the same time it should be taken into account that Baltic tribes themselves weren’t the indigenous people of the Baltic region – they migrated from the South and pushed aside the local Finno-Ugric population to the north of modern Latvia. It is especially the absence of their own statehood that became one of the main reasons for the conquest of the Baltic and the Finno-Ugric people of the Baltic region by more powerful neighbors.
Since the 13th-14th centuries the peoples of the Baltic region found themselves between two fires – from the Southwest they were squeezed and subordinated by the German Order of Knighthood, and from the Northeast – the Russian principalities. It’s not at all the ancestors of modern Lithuanians, but the Litvin – “western Russians”, Slavs, the ancestors of modern Belarusians – who were the “kernel” of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
The adoption of the Catholic religion and the developed cultural ties with the neighbouring Poland provided differences between Litvin and the population of Rus. The situation of the Baltic tribes was far from being joyful both in the German Knighthood states and in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. They were subjected to religious, linguistic, and social discrimination.
The situation was even worse for the Finno-Ugric tribes, which subsequently became the basis for the formation of the Estonian nation. In Estland, like in the neighbouring Livonia and Courland, all main levers of governance and economy were in the hands of the East Sea [Ostsee – ed] Germans.
Before the middle of the 19th century in the Russian Empire such a name as “Estonians” wasn’t even used – all natives of Finland, the Vyborg Governorate, and some other Baltic territories were united under the name“chukhna”. Moreover, there were no distinctions between Estonians, Izhorians, Vepsians, and Finns. The standard of living of “chukhna” was even lower than that of Latvians and Lithuanians. A considerable part of villagers moved towards St. Petersburg, Riga, and other large cities in search of earnings.
A large number of Estonians even moved towards other regions of the Russian Empire – thus Estonian settlements appeared in the North Caucasus, Crimea, Siberia, and the Far East. They left for the “world’s end” not at all because they had a good life. It is interesting that in the cities of the Baltic region there were almost no Estonians and Latvians – it is they themselves who called themselves “villagers”, opposing themselves to city dwellers – Germans.
The main part of the population of Baltic cities up to the 19th century consisted of ethnic Germans, and also Poles and Jews, but not at all Baltic people. In fact, the “old” (pre-revolutionary) Baltic region was completely built by Germans. Baltic cities were German cities – with German architecture, culture, and system of municipal management.
In knighthood states, in the Duchy of Courland, and in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth the Baltic people would never become equal with title Germans, Poles or Litvins. For the German nobility dominating in the Baltic region, Latvians and Estonians were people of the second grade, almost “barbarians”, there couldn’t even be talk of equal rights. The nobility and merchants of the Duchy of Courland completely consisted of East Sea Germans.
The German minority for centuries dominated Latvian peasants making up the main part of the population of the duchy. Latvian peasants were enslaved and in terms of their social status they were equated to ancient Roman slaves by the Courland statute.
Freedom came to Latvian peasants almost half a century earlier than to Russian serfs – the decree on the cancellation of serfdom in Courland was signed by the emperor Alexander I in 1817. On August 30th in Mitava the release of peasants was solemnly declared.
Two years later, in 1819, Livonia’s peasants were also released. Thus Latvians received long-awaited freedom, with which the gradual formation of a class of free Latvian farmers started. If it wasn’t for the will of the Russian emperor, who knows how many more decades Latvians would’ve remained in the condition of being the serfs of German sirs.
The incredible mercy shown by Alexander I in relation to the peasants of Courland and Livonia had an enormous impact on the further economic development of these lands. By the way, it’s not a coincidence that Latgale turned into the most economically backward part of Latvia – liberation from serfdom came to Latgale peasants much later, and this circumstance affected the development of agriculture, trade, and crafts in the region.
The liberation of the serfs of Livonia and Courland allowed them to rather quickly turn into successful farmers who lived much better off than the peasants of Northern and Central Russia. An impulse was given to the further economic development of Latvia. But even after the liberation of peasants, the main resources of Livonia and Courland remained in the hands of East Sea Germans, who organically fitted into Russian aristocracy and merchants.
A large number of prominent military and politicians of the Russian Empire – generals and admirals, diplomats and ministers – emerged from the environment of the East Sea nobility. On the other hand, the situation of Latvians or Estonians remained denigrated – and not at all because of Russians, who are now accused of occupying the Baltic region, but because of the East Sea nobility that exploited the population of the region.
Now in all the countries of the Baltic region people like to argue about the “horrors of Soviet occupation”, but they prefer to keep quiet about the fact that it is precisely Latvians, Lithuanians, and Estonians who supported the revolution that gave them their long-awaited liberation from the domination of East Sea Germans.
If German aristocracy of the Baltic region in its majority supported the white movement, then whole divisions of Latvian Riflemen were at war on the side of the red movement. Ethnic Latvians, Lithuanians, and Estonians played a very large role in the establishment of Soviet power in Russia, and their percent in the Red Army and the state security bodies was the highest.
When modern Baltic politicians argue about “Soviet occupation”, they forget that tens of thousands of “Latvian Riflemen” fought all across Russia for the establishment of this same Soviet power, and then continued to serve in the bodies of the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission, Joint State Political Directorate, NKVD, and the Red Army, and not in the lowest posts either.
As we see, nobody oppressed Latvians or Estonians on ethnic grounds in Soviet Russia. Moreover, in the first post-revolutionary years Latvian formations were considered as privileged ones, and it is precisely they that guarded the Soviet leadership and carried out the most responsible tasks, including suppressing numerous anti-Soviet actions in the Russian provinces. It is necessary to say that, without feeling kinship and cultural proximity with Russian peasants, Riflemen dealt with the uprising quite rigidly, which the Soviet leadership appreciated.
During the inter-war period (from 1920 to 1940) several worlds existed in Latvia – Latvian, German, Russian, and Jewish, which tried to cross each other’s paths at a minimum. It is clear that the situation of Germans in independent Latvia was better than the situation of Russians or Jews, but there were certain nuances all the same.
Thus, despite the fact that Germans and Latvians were Lutherans or Catholics, German and Latvian Catholic and Protestant churches and schools existed separately. I.e., two people with apparently close cultural values tried to maximally distance from each other. For Latvians, Germans were occupiers and the descendants of exploiters/feudal lords, and for Germans the Latvians were almost “forest barbarians”. Especially because as a result of the agrarian reform, East Sea landowners were deprived of their lands, which were transferred to Latvian farmers.
Among the East Sea Germans pro-monarchic moods dominated at first – they hoped for the restoration of the Russian Empire and the return of Latvia into its structure, and then, in the 1930’s, German Nazism started to spread very quickly – it is enough to remember that Alfred Rosenberg, one of Hitler’s key ideologists, was from the Baltic region.
The East Sea Germans connected the restoration of their political and economic domination to the spreading of German power across the Baltic region. They considered the cities of Estonia and Latvia built by Germans falling in the hands of “villagers” – Estonians and Latvians – to be extremely unfair.
In fact, if it wasn’t for the “Soviet occupation”, the Baltic region would have been under Nazi rule, would be attached to Germany, and the local Latvian, Estonian, and Lithuanian population would be faced with second-class status and the subsequent fast assimilation. Despite the fact that in 1939 the repatriation of Germans from Latvia to Germany had started, and by 1940 practically all the East Sea Germans living in the country left it, they would anyway return there again if Latvia found itself as a part of the Third Reich.
Adolf Hitler treated the population of “Ostland” very disdainfully and for a long time hindered the implementation of the plans of a number of German military leaders for the formation of Latvian, Estonian, and Lithuanian units as a part of the troops of the SS.
On the territory of the Baltic region the German administration was recommended to forbid any slight movement of the local population towards autonomy and self-determination, and the creation of higher educational institutions with studying in the Lithuanian, Latvian or Estonian languages was strictly forbidden. At the same time, it was allowed to create for the local population vocational and technical schools, which testifies to only one thing – in the German-occupied Baltic region only the fate of service personnel awaited Latvians, Lithuanians, and Estonians.
I.e., actually it is precisely Soviet troops that saved Latvians from returning to a situation where they would be a majority deprived of civil rights under German sirs. However, taking into account the number of natives of the republics of the Baltic region serving in Hitler’s auxiliary police and the SS, it is possible to be sure that serving the occupiers as collaborators wasn’t a big problem for many of them.
Now, the auxiliary police that served Hitler are being rehabilitated in the countries of the Baltic region, and at the same time the merits of those Latvians, Lithuanians, and Estonians who took up arms and followed the way of fighting against Nazism, served in the Red Army, and fought as a part of partisan units are being suppressed and refuted.
Modern Baltic politicians also forget about how huge the contribution of Russia and then the Soviet Union was in the development of culture, written language, and sciences in the Baltic republics. In the USSR a large amount of books were translated into the Latvian, Lithuanian, and Estonian languages, and writers from the Baltic republics had the opportunity to publish their works, which were then also translated into other languages of the Soviet Union and were printed in huge numbers.
It is precisely during the Soviet period that a powerful and developed education system was created in the Baltic republics – both secondary and higher, and all Latvians, Lithuanians, and Estonians received an education in their native language and used their scripture, without experiencing any discrimination during subsequent employment.
It goes without saying that in the Soviet Union the natives of the republics of the Baltic region had the opportunity to develop their careers not only inside the borders of their native regions, but also inside the borders of the huge country in general – they became high-ranking party figures, military leaders and naval commanders, they formed a career in science, culture, sport, etc.
All of this became possible thanks to the huge contribution of the Russian people to the development of the Baltic region. Sane Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians never forget what the Russians did for the Baltic region. It’s not a coincidence that one of the main tasks of the modern Baltic regimes became the eradication of any adequate information about life in the Baltic republics during the Soviet period. After all, the main task is to forever tear off the Baltic region from Russia and Russian influence and to raise the younger generations of Latvians, Estonians, and Lithuanians in the spirit of total Russophobia and admiration for the West.
Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
Nphet proposes cap on households mixing over Christmas period
The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has recommended that no more than four households should mix over the Christmas period.
Nphet met on Thursday to consider advice for the Government on the latest pandemic situation, at a time when Covid-19 case numbers have stabilised at a high level and further information on the Omicron variant is being awaited.
It last night sent a letter to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly which recommends a maximum of six people at a table in bars and restaurants, the closure of nightclubs and limits on households mixing.
The contents of the letter are expected to be discussed by Ministers and senior officials at a Cabinet sub-committee meeting on Friday.
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said the Government would move “as quickly as it can” to examine the latest recommendations from Nphet and to decide if further restrictions will be introduced. She said the Cabinet would need to be given time to “look at this advice and take it on board”.
During an interview on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, Ms McEntee said the Government had to ensure it was clear about about what it would do in terms of restrictions and why before anything was announced.
“Of course if there are impacts on businesses at any stage of this…I hope people would agree that we haven’t left people wanting,” she said. “We have always responded where business has needed additional income. Where individuals have lost their jobs. We have always provided that support. This won’t be any different.”
Tests for travellers
Separately, the Government has notified airlines that the introduction of a system of PCR and antigen testing for passengers arriving into Ireland has been delayed by 48 hours.
|Confirmed cases in hospital||Confirmed cases in ICU|
The measure was due to come into force on Friday, but Aer Lingus said airlines had been informed on Thursday night that the regulations would now begin on Sunday. All arrivals into the State – whether vaccinated or not – will need a negative Covid-19 test result from then onwards.
Those travelling with an antigen test result will need to have obtained it within 48 hours of arrival into Ireland, and it will have to be a professionally administered test.
No self-administered tests will be accepted under rules approved by Cabinet. Those with a PCR test result will have a longer pre-travel window of 72 hours before arrival. Persons arriving into the State from overseas who have been vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 will be required also to have a certified negative test.
Hospitality sector meeting
Meanwhile, Government members are due to meet representatives of the hospitality industry on Friday. Ministers have said there will be supports for the sector if new pandemic measures will impact on their ability to trade.
Ms McEntee said she was particularly conscious that people had been asked to pull back and to reduce their social contacts.
“I am talking to businesses particularly in the hospitality sector and I know the impact that is having on them. This should be their busiest time and it’s not. We are taking this on board. We are going to support all of these businesses as we have always done during the pandemic,” she said.
The Minister dismissed suggestions that the Government was flip flopping or that there was confusion behind the scenes, saying the State is in a “fluid situation” because of the nature of Covid-19.
“What we have seen with the antigen test is that the market has corrected itself. That wasn’t a matter of flip flops or changing. We simply saw the market adjust itself. It is not about Government changing direction. We have to change direction sometimes because of the nature of this pandemic. Everybody is doing their best here,” she said.
‘Random and arbitrary’
Earlier, Maynooth University professor of immunology Paul Moynagh said the latest restrictions reportedly proposed by Nphet could lead to some benefits but seem ed “random and arbitrary”.
He told Newstalk Breakfast that “big mistakes” have been made with regard to messaging to the public.
“Back in September contact tracing was stood down the reason being that children were missing too much school. But we had the option of keeping contact tracing and using antigen testing. And there has been a resistance over the last year from Nphet in terms of using antigen testing,” he said.
“We saw over the last number of days the reluctance of Nphet again to impress advice from experts in the area of ventilation and air filtration. There seems to be this reluctance to accept scientific advice from outside.”
Prof Moynagh said there was a need to look at this reluctance and “learn from our mistakes”.
“Whereas at the moment it seems that mistakes are made and that narrative is defended. And again we end up now with new restrictions that I am not convinced are going to be very impactful,” he said.
“We know they are going to be highly impactful in terms of the sectors for example. I am not convinced by the strategy that is being used at the moment.”
Senior figures in Washington stand behind Belfast Agreement and protocol, McDonald says
Senior figures in United States politics have made it clear that the government of Boris Johnson in the UK will face negative consequences internationally if it attempts to rupture or dispense with the Northern Ireland protocol, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said.
In a presentation at the National Press Club in Washington DC on Thursday she said the protocol was “necessary, operable and going nowhere, despite what Boris Johnson might wish to believe”.
She said she had met with “people of considerable influence” in the US Congress and in the Biden administration on her visit to the US this week and they all stood four square behind the Belfast Agreement and the protocol.
“I heard yesterday on the Hill the clearest possible articulation across the board that any notion of walking away from the protocol would not be acceptable to the United States.”
Asked about a report in the Financial Timed that Washington had delayed lifting tariffs on UK steel and aluminium products amid concerns about threats by the UK to invoke article 16 of the protocol, Ms McDonald said this was a matter for the Biden administration.
However, she said: “There is no doubt where the US stands. If Johnson believes he can walk away from the protocol, he is wrong and there will be consequences for Britain if he chooses that course of action.”
Ulster Unionist Party leader Doug Beattie, who was also in Washington DC on Thursday, said if the lifting of tariffs was being delayed due to concerns about the protocol, he would argue at a meeting with the US state department that it had “got it wrong” in its view on what article 16 was about.
“If people say we have to adhere to the protocol and article 16 is part of the protocol then it becomes a legitimate thing you can use.”
“It is not about whether you should or should not use it. It is about how you should use it.
“You should use it in a narrow sense of a particular issue that is causing economic or societal harm in Northern Ireland, for example, medicines .”
“If the medicine issue has not been fixed and is starting to affect the people of Northern Ireland, it would be right to instigate article 16 to focus minds on that issue.”
Ms McDonald also told the press club event that she expected the United States would “be on the right side” on the controversy over British plans for an amnesty in relation to killings during the Troubles.
She said the British government was going to the ultimate point to keep the truth from the people about its war in Ireland.
She said the Johnson government’s plans would mean “in effect no possibility of criminal action, civil actions or even inquests into killings in the past”.
Ms McDonald also forecast that a point was coming over the coming five or 10 years where referenda would be held on the reunification of Ireland. She urged the Irish government to establish a citizen’s assembly to consider preparation for unity.
She also said “there will be need for international support and international intervention to support Ireland as we move to transition from partition to reunification”.
Separately, asked about a recent Sinn Féin golf fundraising event that was held in New York, Ms McDonald said the money that was raised would be spent on campaigning and lobbying in the US.
She described it as a patriotic expression by people in the US who had a deep interest in Ireland and the peace process.
Drop in cancer diagnoses as high as 14 per cent during pandemic, early data shows
The drop in the number of cancers detected during the Covid-19 pandemic could be as high as 14 per cent, preliminary data has suggested.
A report from the National Cancer Registry said it was still too early to provide “definitive answers” on whether pandemic hospital restrictions last year led to a reduction in the number of cancers diagnosed.
The registry’s annual report said an estimated decrease of 14 per cent in detections pointed to the “potential scale” of Covid-19’s impact on other healthcare.
A separate analysis of data on microscopically verified cancers diagnosed last year showed a reduction of between 10 and 13 per cent, the report said.
The drop in confirmed cancer cases, when compared with previous years, could be partly accounted for by “incomplete registration of cases already diagnosed”, it said.
Prof Deirdre Murray, director of the National Cancer Registry, said there were “clear signals that, as expected in Ireland, the number of cancer diagnoses in 2020 will be lower than in previous years”.
The shortfall in cancers being diagnosed would present a “major challenge” in the coming years, with lengthy waiting lists and disruptions to screening services “all too commonplace” already, she said.
Ms Power said it was frightening to think of the people who were living with cancer but did not know it yet. She added that existing cancer patients were “terrified” of having treatments delayed due to the recent rise in Covid-19 cases.
The registry’s report said there were about 44,000 tumours identified each year between 2017 and 2019.
Not counting non-melanoma skin cancer, the most common cancer diagnoses were for breast and prostate cancer, which made up almost a third of invasive cancers found in women and men respectively.
For men this was followed by bowel and lung cancer, and melanoma of the skin. Lung cancer was the second most common cancer for women, followed by colorectal cancer and melanoma of skin.
Nearly a third of deaths in 2018 were attributed to cancer, with lung cancer the leading cause of death from cancer, the report said.
The second, third and fourth most common cancers to die from in men were bowel, prostate and oesophagus cancer. For women breast, bowel and ovarian cancers were the most common fatal cancers.
The report said there were almost 200,000 cancer survivors in Ireland at the end of 2019, with breast cancer patients making up more than a fifth of the total.
The research found cancer rates among men had dropped between 2010 and 2019, with mortality rates decreasing or remaining the same across nearly every type of cancer. Rates of cancer detected among women had increased between 2008 and 2019, with mortality rates for most cancers decreasing.
The report said the five-year survival rate from cancer had increased to 65 per cent for the period 2014 to 2018, compared with 42 per cent two decades previous.
There had been “major improvement” in survival rates for most major cancers, however, the research noted the chances of survival varied significantly depending on the type of cancer.
Prostate, melanoma of the skin and testis cancer had survival rates of more than 90 per cent, followed closely by breast and thyroid cancer, and Hodgkin lymphoma. Pancreas, liver, oesophagus and lung cancers had much lower five-year survival rates on average, the report said.
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