The Baltics: The Pre-War Years

Author: R. Simonian

THE OCCUPATION DOCTRINE adopted by the Baltics serves as a legal basis for resolving a whole array of many practical and ideological issues. Discrimination against hundred of thousands of those who permanently live in the region is one of such issues. In Estonia where certain posts are banned for them they are also kept away from the polls in parliamentary elections; Latvia has gone even further - certain population groups cannot elect local administrations. The financial claims to Russia are also part of the occupation doctrine.

The very much discussed and deliberately fanned occupation issue contradicts common sense. Can we describe as occupation the regime under which the "occupied" enjoyed the same rights as the "occupants"; there was no "occupation regime" in the Baltic republics and no military administrators (Germany, for example, appointed its Gauleiters in the occupied territories); there were no other attributes of an occupation regime. In fact, it was the legally elected parliaments of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia that in 1940 passed a decision to join the USSR. The fact that the 1991 decisions on independence were passed by their Supreme Soviets, bodies of the "occupation regime," makes the discussion of occupation a political oddity.

It was thanks to the so-called occupation that Lithuania acquired over 30 percent of its present territory together with Vilnius, its old capital. The so-called occupants consistently poured money into the occupied territories and were keeping the living standards at the level much higher than in their own lands. They showed more concern for the national culture of the Baltic peoples than for their own culture that was degrading before their eyes. For example, under Soviet power "occupied" Latvia with the population of 2.5 million got three times more state budget money than the Voronezh Region with the population of 2.6 million. Personal incomes in the Soviet Baltic republics were higher than anywhere else in the Soviet ...

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