Stalnukhin: I was holding myself back

Loora-Elisabet Lomp
, Eesti uudiste päevatoimetaja
Mikhail Stalnukhin in his video address on the Portal Slavija channel.
Mikhail Stalnukhin in his video address on the Portal Slavija channel. Photo: Portal Slavija
  • Mikhail Stalnukhin does not care about election campaign.
  • The politician has great emotional connection with the Red monuments in Narva.
  • The center Party would have acted differently when relocating the Red monuments.

The board of the Center Party condemned the statement of Mikhail Stalnukhin, a member of the Riigikogu center faction and a member of the Narva City Council, for his statement in the Russian-language Youtube channel of the Slavia portal where he described the government as fascist and Nazi. However, Stalnukhin does not intend to apologize for his words.

Stalnukhin made his statement regarding the relocation of the Red monuments. “I know only one force which wants to take down everything dedicated to the liberator soldiers – these are the fascists, they are undisguised Nazis. And these [monuments] were taken down,” Stalnukhin said on video. “Regardless of what they call themselves: democrats, liberals, reformists, right-wing – whatever. For me, they are now ordinary fascists. They fight against those who fought against Nazism. And we all still have to get used to the idea that we live in a country where the official ideology is pro-Nazi ideology."

Not apologizing for his words

“Regarding emotionality: believe me, I was holding myself back as much as I could and exactly as most people from Narva are doing now,” Stalnukhin explained to Postimees last night. Over the last two days, he has received nearly ten hate letters and the same number of support letters in Estonian. He explained that when talking about the official ideology, he was referring to the government, not the Estonian people, but it seemed to him that linking the ideology to the rulers rather than the people is self-evident.

“My uncle and one of my grandfathers were killed when fighting in that war; ten other family members were simply killed. That is why I have always had a very personal attitude to the monuments of Narva, they have always meant a lot to me and most of the residents of Narva, and on a personal, not an ideological level. It is wrong to think that in case of an action like the one carried out in Narva on August 16, emotions will last for a couple of days and then everything will subside. This heartache will be with me forever now. With our city,” he stated.

Stalnukhin also wanted his words not to be viewed as an apology. “I have nothing to apologize for to anyone. I have worked for a united civil society for decades and have always described its opponents as they deserve. Kallas' government is currently a much greater threat to Estonia's independence than a humble Estonian language teacher from Narva,” Stalnukhin explained.

The board has not yet agreed upon the meeting

The leaders of the Center Party will meet with Stalnukhin when they decide to convene the board meeting. Jaanus Karilaid, chairman of the Riigikogu Center Party faction and member of the party board, emphasized to Postimees that after February 24, everything has become much more black and white. “Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, it has been clear that Red monuments cannot belong to public space. Here is a consensus between all political forces,” Karilaid said. He added that if the Center Party had been part of the government, it would have meant a better ability to carry out dialogue and the whole process would have been more unifying rather than divisive.

“Estonia's task is not to leave people at the mercy of Putin, but to consistently tie them to Estonia. Not by force and threatening but with advice and caring,” explained the faction chairman, according to whom the party has already condemned Stalnukhin's performance. Karilaid mentioned that the Haapsalu city council will also make a decision in September to remove the Red monument from in front of the department store, and the whole process will be carried out in cooperation with the relevant authorities and as correctly as possible.

The election campaign begins next year

Member of the European Parliament Yana Toom (Center) condemned the hate posting of her fellow party member Stalnukhin and stated that it is part of a cynically considered election campaign. “Is Kaja Kallas a fascist? Is Signe Riisalo? Peep Peterson?” Toom asked rhetorically. “They are not. None of them is, and without any doubt. Does Stalnukhin himself believe that they are fascists? Of course not. He uses this label because he knows that labels work better. Some are fascists, others are Putinists, that's it. Who benefits from this? Who else but the one wielding the labels.”

The mayor of Narva, Katri Raik (SDE), wrote on social media that the “best before” of Mikhail Stalnukhin is over, and the latest local election showed it as well. According to Raik, labeling the government in an unprecedented way is the last cry for help: “Vote for me in March!”

In turn, Karilaid stated that the party's election campaign will start in January. “But without exception, all politicians campaign with their words and actions for four years in a row, including both Toom and Raik,” he added.

Karilaid reminded that, unlike many of his critics, Stalnukhin has also done patriotic deeds, such as publishing several Estonian language textbooks and dictionaries. He added that the picture appearing in the comment sections of Russian portals shows that more attention should be paid to the treatment of Estonian history in Russian schools.

For Stalnukhin himself, the election has little meaning. “For example, in 2015 I wanted to quit politics and I did not conduct an active election campaign, leaving the decision to the voters. No calendars, no pens with name and number, no personal propaganda events, no personal advertising in the media. More or less the same thing happened in 2019. I thought that if the party and the people of East Viru want to see me in the Riigikogu, I will continue working. If “no”, then it is no tragedy,” explained Stalnukhin.

“Yana Toom's opinion stems from her way of thinking and cannot be different; she judges people based on her lack of morality. Not that I have anything against it, it's just that all people are different and I understand that, but she doesn't,” Stalnukhin said.

Michal: many Centrists still think of themselves as the Russian warship

Reformist MP Kristen Michal said that such videos and messages from well-known people serve as ammunition for the Kremlin in the information war. “Mikhail Stalnuhhin, as well as Filipp Loss (artistic director of the Russian Theater - ed.) produce the necessary ammunition for those whose work and passion is to see Estonia once again as a part of the Russian state.”

According to Michal, Estonia supports Ukraine because we know that every shot fired at the Russian tanks in Ukraine’s war of independence is a shot in defense of the free world, including ourselves. “Ukraine is the frontline and Estonia, like Europe and the USA, are its supporters. The views of the Stalnukhins and the Losses are, of course, diametrically opposed to this attitude. They would probably want what is happening in Ukraine to be an internal matter of the Russian state, and the Soviet tank to be in Tallinn’s Freedom Square; then their souls would not be offended.”