Transcript: Sofi Oksanen: Eyes on Estonia | Mar 30, 2015

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his forties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, pale blue shirt, and striped blue tie. Behind him, a wall screen reads “The Agenda, with Steve Paikin.”

Steve says ESTONIA, THE SMALLEST OF THE
BALTIC STATES WAS OCCUPIED THREE
TIMES DURING SECOND WORLD WAR
AND FACED DEPORTATIONS AND MASS
EXECUTIONS.
ONCE A FORMER SOVIET SOCIALIST
REPUBLIC NOW IN NATO AND ONE OF
THE MOST ECONOMICALLY SUCCESSFUL
EASTERN EUROPEANS MEMBERS OF EU.
IT IS HISTORY AND COMPLICATED
RELATIONSHIP WITH RUSSIA THAT
SOFI OKSANEN BRINGS TO READERS
IN HER NOVEL CALLED WHEN THE
DOVES DISAPPEARED AND SHE JOINS
US NOW FOR MORE ON Estonia’s
HISTORY AND FUTURE.

A picture of the book appears on screen. The cover features a flock of doves flying in the sky.

Steve continues THANKS
FOR COMING IN.

Sofi says HAPPY TO BE HERE.

She’s in her forties, with short red hair. She wears a purple satin sleeveless dress, round glasses, a black cloth wrapped around her head, and a button with the face of a woman on her lapel.

Steve says We will PUT A MAP UP TO SHOW
EVERYBODY, IN CASE YOU DO NOT
KNOW WHERE ESTONIA IS, THE
NORTHERN MOST OF THE THREE
BALTIC STATES.

A map pops up on screen with the caption “Estonia today.” It shows the location of Estonia, north of Latvia and west of Russia, just south of Finland and east of Sweden.

Steve continues A VERY
COMPLICATED NEIGHBOURHOOD IN THE
LAST CENTURY WITH RUSSIA ON ITS
DOORSTEP.
WE MENTION IT CHANGED HANDS
THREE SEPARATE TIMES DURING THE
COURSE OF THE WAR.
BRING US UP TO DATE ON THAT
HISTORY.
HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Sofi Oksanen. Author ‘When the doves disappeared.’"

Sofi says HOW DID THAT HAPPEN, YES.
ESTONIA WAS INDEPENDENT AND WAS
OCCUPIED BY SOVIET ARMIES AND
AFTER THAT, DIRECTLY, BY GERMAN
FORCES, GERMAN OCCUPATION LASTED
THREE YEARS FROM '41 TO '44 AND
AFTER THAT, SOVIET ARMY OCCUPIED
THE COUNTRY AGAIN AND it REGAINED
INDEPENDENCE IN 1991 SO SOVIET
ARMY LEFT THE COUNTRY IN 1994.

The caption changes to "Eyes on Estonia. Occupation(s)."

Steve says So let’s GO BACK TO LOOK AT DIFFERENT
POPULATIONS THERE.
WHEN THE GERMANS INVADED, HOW
WERE THEY REGARDED BY MAJORITY
OF ESTONIAN POPULATION?

Sofi says WELL IT WAS RIGHT AFTER THE
FIRST MASS DEPORTATION IN
ESTONIA.
SO THERE WERE WELCOMED AND
ALREADY WERE OF COURSE PEOPLE
WHO WERE A BIT WORRIED ABOUT
GERMANS AND THEIR PROMISES.
BALTIC GERMANS WERE THE RULING
CLASS IN ESTONIA BEFORE AND THEY
WERE NOT -- THEY DID NOT -- THEY
WERE NOT A NICE PERSONS PUT IT
LIKE THAT.
THE GERMANS WERE PROMISING
INDEPENDENCE AND THEY WERE ALSO
PROMISING THAT THEY WOULD --
THEY WOULD HELP Estonians
TO GET BACK THE FAMILIES
DEPORTED TO SIBERIA AND THEY
ALSO PROMISED THAT THEY WOULD
GET BACK THEIR PROPERTY, THE
PROPERTY WHICH WAS CONFISCATED
BY SOVIET UNION AND ALSO THAT
LAND owners would GET
Their FARMS BACK.
SO LOTS OF GOOD.

Steve says AND ESTONIA WAS NEUTRAL
DURING THE WAR, WERE THEY NOT.

Sofi says YES.

Steve says TECHNICALLY OFFICIALLY THEY
WERE NEUTRAL.

Sofi says YES.

Steve says WHO WERE THE BROTHERS?

Sofi says THEY WERE MEMBERS OF A
resistance movement IN ESTONIA.
AND WELL FIRST HAD BEEN THE
POLICE FOR IMPORTANT TERRIBLE
ESTONIA ALWAYS. BECAUSE THAT IS
WHERE YOU WENT TO HIDE WHEN THE
RULERS WANTED TO HUNT YOU DOWN.
AND THEY WERE FIGHTING AGAINST
THE SOVIETS AND ALSO A –
There was a resistance movement
AGAINST GERMAN OCCUPATION as well.
So THEY the WERE ONES FIGHTING FOR
FREEDOM OF ESTONIA.

Steve says Let me TAKE YOU BACK TO 1944,
GERMANS OUT THE SOVIETS have
QUOTE-UNQUOTE LIBERATED ESTONIA
FROM THE GERMANS AND ESTONIA NOW
BECOMES ONE OF THE SOCIALIST
REPUBLICS OF THE SOVIET UNION.
HOW DID THE COUNTRY ITSELF
CHANGE ONCE THAT HAPPENED?

The caption changes to "Back in the U.S.S.R."

Sofi says IT BECAME A totally different SYSTEM.
SOVIET OCCUPATION MEANT
CENTRE OF TRANSPLANTATIONS.
That was THE WAY TO Russificate the country.

Steve says MOVING RUSSIANS FROM HOMELAND
TO ESTONIA?

Sofi says YEAH.
AND THEN WE HAD MASS
DEPORTATIONS IN 1949.

The map pops up again, but now it shows the Soviet flag of Estonia and the caption “Estonian SSR (March 1975.)”

Sofi continues AND THAT WAS a HEAVY BLOW
For the RESISTANCE MOVEMENT.
THEY WERE DEPORTING WOMEN AND
CHILDREN AND THOSE WHO WERE
HELPING THE BROTHERS.
AND THEN OF COURSE THERE WAS NO
PRIVATE OWNERSHIP IN SOVIET
UNION SO THAT MEANT THAT FARMS
Turned into politic farms AND THAT
WAS CATASTROPHIC FOR LAND OWNERS.
NOT ONLY BECAUSE YOU WERE LOSING
THAT YOUR HOME AND YOUR LAND BUT
BECAUSE JUST like IN OTHER PARTS
OF SOVIET UNION YOU KNOW, IN
ESTONIA, THEY WERE TRYING TO USE
THE SAME RULES IN EVERY
TERRITORY OF SOVIET UNION AND
WHILE YOU CANNOT HARVEST TO THE
SAME WAY IN ESTONIA YOU HARVEST
IN SOME OTHER PARTS OF THE
COUNTRY AND THEN DESTROYED THE
COUNTRYSIDE TOTALLY, POLLUTION,
HORRIBLE.

Steve says TERRIBLE.

Sofi says YES.

Steve says HOW WAS THE AVERAGE ESTONIAN
ABLE TO TRY TO RESIST THE
Sovietization OF THE COUNTRY?

Sofi says Language! IT has been
an important WAY TO resist IN
ESTONIA.
CULTURE AND LANGUAGE,
THEY WERE IMPORTANT.
Estonian identity
IS CONNECTED TO THE
Language very strongly.
It’s a small language
And it has SURVIVED
All the RULERS, all THE -- ALL OF
THE POSSIBLE WAYS IT HAS BEEN,
They have BEEN TRYING TO destroy
THE LANGUAGE THAT IT HAD SURVIVED I
CALL AT MIRACLE AS WELL.

Steve says I don’t KNOW ANY ESTONIANS.
So COULD I HEAR THAT LANGUAGE?
COULD YOU SAY STEVE IT IS NICE
TO MEET YOU AND HAPPY TO BE
HERE?

Sofi chuckles and then speaks in Estonian.

Steve says MARVELOUS.
HOW LONG HAS THAT LANGUAGE LIVED
FOR?

Sofi says Actually the literary LANGUAGE
IS very YOUNG
LIKE FINNISH LANGUAGE AS WELL.
WE CAN SAY THAT... Lidia [undiscernible]
IS ONE OF THE FOUNDING
MOTHERS OF ESTONIAN LITERATURE, SO
IT WAS LATE 19th CENTURY.

Steve says WHY DID YOU WEAR HER BUTTON?

Sofi says SHE IS MY HERO.
She’s a national [undiscernible]
And FEMALE, which is very rare.

Steve asks IS SHE STILL AROUND?

Sofi says NO, NO IT WAS AGES AGO.

Steve says OKAY.
I know it’s always a terrible
Idea to ask someone their age, but
IN 1991 WHEN Estonia
REGAINED INDEPENDENCE AFTER the FALL
OF SOVIET UNION HOW OLD WERE
YOU?

The caption changes to "In the line of fire?"

Sofi says I WAS A TEENAGER.

Steve says YOU REMEMBER IT WELL?

Sofi nods and says I REMEMBER IT very WELL.

Steve says WHAT WERE YOUR FEELINGS AT
THE TIME?

Sofi says It was a very STRANGE TIME.
BECAUSE NO ONE WAS SURE, NO ONE
WAS CERTAIN WHAT IS GOING TO
HAPPEN.
WE DID NOT KNOW.
I REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME WHEN
MY GRANDMOTHER ACTUALLY SHE MADE
AN ESTONIAN FLAG BECAUSE COLOURS
OF THE FLAG WHICH ARE HERE...

She points at her button and continues
THEY WERE FORBIDDEN FOR THIS
PERIOD.

Steve says COULD NOT FLY THE FLAG?

Sofi says NO AND THIS COLOUR
COMBINATION WAS SO ILLEGAL THAT
IF AN ABSTRACT ARTIST WANTED
THESE COLOURS IN PAINTINGS HE
WAS BANNED.
SO THESE WERE DANGEROUS COLOURS
AT THE SAME AND I REMEMBER IT
WAS NOT -- IT WAS DIFFICULT TO
GET fabric TO HAVE THESE
COLOURS.
AND FOR THE FLAG.
SO BUT WE HAD SOME CONNECTIONS
AND MANAGED TO MAKE the FLAG AND I
REMEMBER IT WAS A STRANGE
FEELING.
AND IT WAS VERY -- BECAUSE ARMY
WAS, WAS IN A VERY STRANGE
SITUATION THEY DIDN'T KNOW WHAT
IT WAS GOING TO DO AND THEN WHEN
THE TANKS CAME NOBODY KNEW IF
THIS WAS GOING TO END IN
BLOODSHED OR NOT.

The caption changes to "Theagenda.tvo.org"

Steve says AND IT DIDN'T.

Sofi says IT DIDN'T.

Steve says AND HERE IS A REPORTER NAMED
MARK McKINNON WHO WRITES IN
ONE OF OUR NATIONAL NEWSPAPERS
THE GLOBE AND MAIL WROTE THE
FOLLOWING...

A quote appears on screen, under the title “Next on the list?” The quote reads “Through its television channels, the Kremlin has retained the hearts and minds of not only the majority of its own citizens, but also many Russian-speakers in places such as Narva that were left outside the borders of the Russian Federation when the Soviet Union fell 24 years ago. WHAT WAS VIEWED AS A POLITICAL
NUISANCE BY the GOVERNMENTS OF ESTONIA IS NOW SEEN AS A MAJOR SECURITY THREAT, PROVIDING THE KREMLIN WITH A
POTENTIAL PLATFORM TO DESTABILIZE ITS NEIGHBOURS AS
RUSSIA'S CONFRONTATION WITH THE WEST CONTINUES TO GROW.”
The quote belongs to Mark Mackinnan, The Globe and Mail, March 6, 2015.

Steve says I WONDER HOW CONCERNED YOU ARE
ABOUT THE UKRAINE TYPE SITUATION
HAPPENING IN ESTONIA?

Sofi says WELL there were some polls
IN ESTONIA AND IN LATVIA
WAS WHERE THEY HAVE A LOT OF
RUSSIAN-SPEAKING CITIZENS. THESE
Polls SHOW THAT RUSSIAN SPEAKERS
Prefer ESTONIA AND LATVIA staying
INDEPENDENT COUNTRIES AND THEY
DON'T WANT TO BE UNDER PRESSURE.

Steve says But A QUARTER OF YOUR POPULATION
IS ETHNICALLY RUSSIAN.

Sofi says THAT IS TRUE.

Steve says DO YOU WORRY ABOUT THEM?

Sofi says NO, NOT WORRIED ABOUT HUMAN
BEINGS, NO, RUSSIAN SPEAKERS AS
SUCH.
WHAT I DO WORRY ABOUT IS THE WAY
THAT MOSCOW WANTS TO EXPLOIT
RUSSIAN SPEAKERS AND THERE IS A
DIFFERENCE.
BECAUSE WE CANNOT SPEAK ABOUT
RUSSIAN SPEAKERS AS UNITY.
LIFE IN EVERY ETHNIC GROUP THEY
ARE ALWAYS THE RADICAL ONES,
ALWAYS THOSE WHO ARE ON THE
MOSCOW PAYROLL AND THOSE WHO
WANT TO TAKE RADICAL DIRECTION
JUST LIKE IN MUSLIM COMMUNITIES
AS WELL.
THERE IS ALWAYS A POSSIBILITY IN
EVERY ETHNIC GROUP.
IN THAT WAY RUSSIANS ARE NOT
SPEAKERS FROM OTHER GROUPS
EITHER.

Steve says UNDERSTOOD.

Sofi says Except that MOSCOW
wants to employ them.

Steve says YOU ARE WORRIED ABOUT THAT
MOSCOW POTENTIALLY PLAYING THAT
CARD, TRYING TO WHIP UP ETHNIC
FRENZY AMONG POPULATION THERE?

Sofi says LET'S SAY I MORE LIKE WORRIED
WHAT HAPPENS IF THEY WANT TO
Fabricate some ATTACK, VIOLENT
ATTACK OR EXPLOSION WHERE
RUSSIANS ARE HURT OR THINGS LIKE
THAT WHERE THEY CAN ACTUALLY
CLAIM THAT THIS IS SOMETHING
THAT HAS TO DO WITH RACISM
AGAINST RUSSIAN SPEAKERS.
BUT THAT IS SOMETHING, SOMETHING
THAT WE CANNOT ACTUALLY CONTROL.
WE HAVE TO BE AWARE THAT IS THE
ONE POSSIBILITY THAT COULD
HAPPEN.

Steve says HERE IS A -- I MEAN,
OBVIOUSLY WE HOPE THIS DOES NOT
HAPPEN.
ESTONIA IS A MEMBER OF NATO.
AS A RESULT IF THERE IS ABEING
THE ON YES, SIR ATTACK ON
ESTONIA THE REST OF THE WORLD IS
SUPPOSED TO COME TO ITS DEFENCE.
Ukraine is not a member of NATO,
So it’s a different situation.
DO YOU BELIEVE THAT NATO WOULD
COME TO ESTONIA'S DEFENCE IF IN
FACT MILITARY ACTIVITIES TOOK
PLACE BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES?

Sofi says YES, BUT WE HAVE TO REMEMBER
THAT WHERE IS THE LINE, WHERE IS
THE LINE? Because for example,
when WE THINK ABOUT UKRAINE
WE ARE WAGING HYBRID WAR AND NOW
I KNOW THAT THERE HAVE BEEN
DISCUSSION ABOUT ARE WE SUPPOSED
TO CONSIDER THIS INFORMATION OR
INFORMATION WAR, WAR AS WELL.
AND THAT IS SOMETHING THAT
RUSSIA IS ALREADY WAGING IN
ESTONIA.
THE INFORMATION WAR,
PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE IS ALREADY
TAKING PLACE.
AND IT HAS BEEN TAKING PLACE
SINCE 90s.
IN THAT WAY THERE IS ALREADY
WAR-LIKE ACTIVITY IN BALTIC
STATES.
AND THAT IS NOT SOMETHING THAT
NATO IS PREPARED TO. SO IN THAT
WAY IT IS POSSIBLE THAT RUSSIA
IS CREATING A CONFLICT WHERE
THEY ARE NOT ACTUALLY USING
WEAPONS. THEY ARE USING PEOPLES'
MINDS AND THEIR ATTITUDES FOR
EXAMPLE TOWARDS RUSSIAN SPEAKERS
AND THAT IS MUCH MORE
COMPLICATED AND THAT IS MUCH
MORE COMPLICATED FOR NATO TO
INTERVENE AS WELL BUT NOW THEY
AT LEAST HAVE TANKS IN ESTONIA
AT THE MOMENT AND NATO TANKS TO
ESTONIA AND AS A SYMBOLIC
GESTURE IT IS IMPORTANT.
THEY HAVE NOT HAD ANY TANKS
SINCE THE BEGINNING of nineties.

Steve says LET'S FINISH UP ON A MORE
HOPEFUL NOTE.

Sofi says YES.

Steve says I DO REMEMBER WHEN ESTONIA
GOT ITS INDEPENDENCE BACK AND
THERE WERE MEMBERS ESTONIA
COMMUNITY IN THE PROVINCE OF
ONTARIO.
I REMEMBER THE BUY THE RUNNING
ONTARIO HYDRO, OUR BIG POWER
GENERATING COMPANY SAID I'M
GOING BACK I'M GOING TO BE
MINISTER OF ENERGY.
I REMEMBER ANOTHER PERSON WHO
WAS WORKING AT VICTORIA COLLEGE
AT U OF T WHO SAID I'M GOING
BACK TO RUN FOR PARLIAMENT.
THERE WAS REPATRIATION IF YOU
LIKE FROM MANY ESTONIANS AROUND
THE WORLD TO COME TO BUILD THIS
COUNTRY AGAIN AND AS A AS A
RESULT, IT HAS BECOME THE MOST
SUCCESSFUL OF ALL OF THE BALTIC
COUNTRIES.
HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

Sofi says ONE ONE VERY IMPORTANT THING
IS THAT THERE IS A LOT OF NORDIC
MONEY AND BECAUSE NORDIC
COUNTRIES ARE TRANSPARENT
COUNTRIES, AND HIGH LEVEL --
WITH HIGH LEVEL VERY LOW-LEVEL
OF CORRUPTION THAT MEANS THAT
THE MONEY IS CLEANER IN ESTONIA,
COMPARED TO LATVIA WHERE THEY
HAVE A LOT OF RUSSIAN MONEY.
THERE IS A LOT OF MONEY
LAUNDERING GOING ON.
IN THAT WAY THAT IS NOT -- A
NORDIC INVESTMENT IS ONE THING.
THEY WERE DETERMINED TO GET
Rid of CORRUPTION, IT IS NOT
Perfect, but it is
In good direction.
ONE THING IS THAT ESTONIANS IN
EXILE... ESTONIAN COMMUNITIES HAVE
The idea THAT THEY WANT TO GET
THEIR CHILDREN EDUCATED BECAUSE
THERE WILL BE A DAY when they NEED
PEOPLE WHO ARE LAWYERS, DOCTORS,
SPECIALISTS -- AND THEY
NEED TO GO HOME TO REBUILD THE
SOCIETY.

Steve says SOFI GREAT TO MEET YOU THANKS
FOR COMING IN TO TVO TONIGHT.

Sofi says THANK YOU.

Watch: Sofi Oksanen: Eyes on Estonia