198 TRANSNATIONAL LAW & CONTEMPORARY PROBLEMS [Vol. 20:197
On April 27, 2007, the Estonian government removed the “Bronze
Soldier” monument—known to Balts and Russians as “Alyosha”—from
Tallinn’s city center.1 A number of Russian speakers immediately rioted; 2
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denounced the removal as
“inhuman.”3 On May 2, members of Molodezhnoye demokraticheskoye
antifashistskoye dvizhenye “Nashi” (Youth Democratic Anti-Fascist
Movement “Ours!”), a Russian nationalist organization, attacked the
Estonian embassy in Moscow and began camping by the Estonian border to
harass border traffic.4 Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves called the
rioters “criminals,” asserting that “[a]ll this had nothing to do with the
inviolability of graves or keeping alive the memory of men fallen in World
This was just another unfortunate episode in a long line of controversies
originating with the liberation of the Baltic States of Estonia (“Eesti”), Latvia
(“Latvija”), and Lithuania (“Lietuva”) after forty years of Soviet occupation.
Politicians, international lawyers, and scholars have debated Baltic
citizenship policy since the beginning of the independence period.6
This Note examines whether the current citizenship laws of Estonia,
Latvia, and Lithuania comply with international law, as identified by Article
1 Russia Enraged as Estonia Takes Down Soviet War Memorial, GUARDIAN (Apr. 27, 2007, 11:50
AM), http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/apr/27/russia [hereinafter Russia Enraged].
Estonians and Russians colloquially refer to the Bronze Soldier as “Alyosha,” a Russian name.
Estonian Wrestler Confirmed as Model for Controversial Soviet Statue, HELSINGIN SANOMAT,
t+statue/1135227259036 (last visited Feb. 24, 2011). “Alyosha” is a common colloquial name for
war memorials in the former Eastern Bloc that may derive from the name of the main character
in the Oscar-nominated Sov iet film Ballad of a Soldier. FELIX MÜNCH, DISKRIMINIERUNG DURCH
GESCHICHTE? DER DEUTUNGSSTREIT UM DEN „BRONZENEN SOLDATEN“ IM POSTSOWJETISCHEN
ESTLAND [DISCRIMINATION BY MEANS OF HISTORY? THE CONFLICT OVER THE MEANING OF TH E
“BRONZE SOLDER” IN POST-SOVIET ESTONIA] 17–18, n.12 (2008) (a thoroughly researched history
of the monument and current dispute).
2 Ian Traynor, EU Protests over Russian Attacks on Ambassadors, GUARDIAN (May 2, 2007, 6:52
PM), http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/may/02/eu.russia [hereinafter EU Protests].
3 Russia Enraged, supra note 1.
4 EU Protests, supra note 2. The protesters also attacked the Swedish ambassador shortly after
he visited the besieged Estonian embassy. Id.
5 Luke Harding, Protest by Kremlin as Police Quell Riots in Estonia, GUARDIAN, Apr. 29, 2007,
available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/apr/29/russia.lukeharding.
6 The citizenship topic tends to elicit emotional responses and strong language from several
scholars. See Mark Holzapfel, Note, The Implications of Human Rights Abuses Currently
Occurring in the Baltic States Against the Ethnic Russian National Minority, 2 BUFF. J. INT’L L.
329, 372 (1996) (stating that Estonian and Latvian policymakers “solicit a Russian invasion”); see
generally Richard C. Vis ek, Creating the Ethnic Electorate Through Legal Restorat ionism:
Citizenship Rights in Estonia, 38 HARV. INT’L L.J. 315 (1997) (placing Eston ian arguments in
quotation marks throughout the majority of the article).