Estonia Against Anti-Fascists / News / News agency Inforos
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Estonia Against Anti-Fascists

It was the 26-th day of war. The Vehrmacht advance guard reached a strategic point, railway station “Dno”, which even today remains an important junction station of the Pskov Region. A Red Army detachment defending the Station and Infantry Corps HQ nearby included Estonian officer Arnold Meri. As quoted to the barren style of the commendation list, it was him who “…arranged and leaded the defense of the Corps HQ…” That time he was only 20. He will see the V-Day in May 1945 being a 25-year-old man. 4 wounds and the Golden Star (#513) of the Hero of the Soviet Union are a remembrance about that July combat of 1941. After the war many Estonian awardees (not to mention the Hero!) were assigned with the administrative and party work. Moscow demanded that the share of local nationals in the administrative bodies would be originally 30 and then almost 70 per cent. Nobody refused due to ideological reasons.

On March 26, 1949 Arnold Meri, Member of the Central Committee of the Estonian Communist party, Secretary of the Central Committee of the Estonian Komsomol League, arrived as an authorized official to town Kyadly located on island Hiyumaa. Nikolay Karotamm, First Secretary of the Estonian Communist party Central Committee, assigned to him a mission to provide for party control over deportation of those residents of the island (totally 251 persons) who were accused by the local KGB of collaboration with Nazis and involvement in insurgent warfare (so-called “forest brothers). Today nobody can tell truly if they were ideological enemies of the Soviet power or forced people or those who offered shelter to both of them or just relatives of the suspects. The paradox of the current situation is that many yesterday innocents today name themselves freedom fighters and vice versa. That time Meri returned to Tallinn already after a week. The authorized official proved to be too pernickety: he studied each case and showed sympathy for deportees. For example, a vessel to transport the people to the mainland could not come to the berth due to shallow waters, and the people were forced to go to the vessel by feet in water. Central Committee representative Meri demanded from the KGB officers to provide a shallow draft boat. Finally he found the boat himself; he got it from the Navy, because the militaries could hardly refuse to the Hero of the Soviet Union.

Two years later Arnold Meri was dismissed from his post and stripped of all decorations including the Star of Hero for this pernickety attitude and actual conflict with the KGB in March 1949. Expecting the arrest every day, he himself left for Siberia together with his family. In 1951 he was left in peace. May be not less pernickety KGB men found a more important case or may be the authorities gave the respective instructions to them… Actually he is the first Estonian who became the Hero of the Soviet Union. After the XX-th Congress of the Communist party he was reinstated in the party membership, and received back the Star and other battle honors. The Meri’s family returned to Estonia where Arnold Meri continued working in administrative bodies.

As a member of the Supreme Soviet of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1988 he himself raised an issue of deportations in 1949, promulgated earlier secret data (20,000 deportees) and urged to give judgment to the events. And the judgment was given. First of all to him “as a Soviet collaborator and enemy of the Estonian nation”. By the way, his cousin Lennart Meri, President of new Estonia, was on the other side of the political barricade. That time in the early 90s, the Tallinn authorities needed to demonstrate two recognized images of Estonia – “the past” and “the future”. In a few years the people from “the past” were denied the right of civil existence.

In the mid-late 90s, Arnold Meri was called a witness in the case of deportation in 1949. Later he was prosecuted as a suspect expecting the life imprisonment for genocide. Moreover, Lennart Meri who was not interested in his own political fluctuation publicity during to the trial, deceased in 2006. On May 20, 2008, a state prosecutor read the conclusion to indict in the Recreation Center of Kyardly specially rented for this purpose. The former Central Committee representative was presented as a key organizer of the Hiyumaa people deportation to Siberia. Investigators did not disregard the event with a boat to deliver the people to the transport vessel. The prosecutor treated it as a deliberate effort to increase the number of deportees due to the use of additional floating craft of the Soviet Navy. There are 80 witnesses who allegedly saw both Meri and these boats. However only one of 6 witnesses called to the proceeding came to the court. The court allowed an application of the defender to conduct medical examination of the 88-year-old indictee who suffers the carcinoma of lung. The proceeding will continue in the autumn...

We wish good health to the veteran but frankly speaking it will be hardly better by the autumn… The political essence of the case is that Arnold Meri is a leader of the Estonian Anti-Fascist Committee. The vector of today Estonia is different. The Estonian court already sentenced to various terms of imprisonment a number of veterans of WWII, former KGB officers, including 79-year-old Michail Neverovsky, 78-year-old Johannes Klassepp, 80-year-old Vasily Beskov and 81-year-old Yuri Karpov. About two years ago former KGB officer 77-year-old Karl-Leonhard Paulov deceased in prison. At the same time none of the Nazi collaborators was found by Estonian investigators. Besides, as “Bronze May” of 2007 goes to the past, the Estonian authorities need new pretexts to continue doing Russia non-stop dirt. As the list of “formers” is over, they will go to their descendants...
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