The Estonian foreign ministry summons the Russian ambassador regarding the attempts to justify the Soviet occupation

On 23 July, the Estonian foreign ministry summoned the ambassador of the Russian Federation to Estonia, Aleksandr Petrov, to explain Russia’s recent attempts to depict the occupation and annexation of Estonia by the Soviet Union as legitimate.

In recent days, the Russian embassy in Tallinn has published a series of posts on its social media channels falsifying history, according to the Estonian foreign ministry. “On 22 July, the ministry of foreign affairs of the Russian Federation released a statement attempting to depict the June coup and the events that followed as voluntary, failing to mention the repressions that took place throughout the period of occupation,” the ministry added.

The June coup was a coup d’etat perpetrated by the Soviet Union on 21 June 1940, installing a puppet government to lead Estonia. The puppet government, led by Johannes Vares, then applied for the membership of the Soviet Union.

Johannes Vares. Photo by the Estonian History Museum.

According to the Estonian foreign minister, Urmas Reinsalu, Estonia condemns any and all attempts to falsify history. 

“Russia is attempting to create the impression that legitimacy can be established at gunpoint, that repressions can happen under mutual agreement – which is impossible,” he said.

Reinsalu stated that the Russian ambassador had been called to account on the 80th anniversary of the Welles Declaration

“This was the document that laid the foundations for the policy of non-recognition that lasted for the entire period of occupation, and which shows clearly that already in 1940 the free world viewed the actions of the Soviet Union as illegal and forceful annexation,” he noted.

World War II, which broke out as a consequence of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and the occupations resulted in Estonia losing a quarter of its population due to being killed in war, deported, executed or fleeing the country. Occupation which spanned half a century also had serious demographic, ecological, economic and cultural consequences. This morning, the US Secretary of State and the foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania released a joint statement confirming their staunch opposition to any attempts by Russia to rewrite history.

Cover: The towers of the Kremlin. Photo by Ivan Krylov, shared under the CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.

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