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Ethnic Russians having become Estonian citizens form increasing share of Estonian Defense League

Not only are ever more ethnic Russians choosing to become Estonian citizens, but they are joining the ranks of the Kaitseliit, the Estonian Defense League that until recently many Russian speakers viewed as an Estonian nationalist organization that was profoundly anti-Russian.

This development, chronicled by Russian journalist Yevgeniya Volokhonskaya for the Moscow outlet Spektr, is important. On the one hand, it shows ethnic Russians who have chosen to become Estonian citizens are not acting for pragmatic reasons alone such as having access to the EU, as some Moscow writers suggest, but are identifying with Estonia and its values.

And on the other, it indicates that Estonian institutions, even those most closely identified with Estonian nationalism, are quite prepared to accept Russian-speaking Estonian citizens as equals, thus undercutting Moscow’s constant refrain that Estonia’s citizenship law and much else are driven by narrow ethno-nationalism.