In some areas of life, Estonia has reached, or sincerely struggled to reach the highest levels of respect for human rights, ones that have distinguished the EU from other regions on the globe. Freedom of the press, electronic media and Internet access is guaranteed and well preserved, including in a minority Russian language. Access to information on matters of public concern is respected by the government, both in legislation and in practice. Same goes for academic and religious freedom. Civil society is vibrant, while NGOs participate in the legislative process. Trade union rights are secured and widely practiced. Although imperfect as compared to the highest EU standards, treatment of LGBT people is considerably better than in Latvia or Lithuania. If not the same sex marriages, at
least the unions are legalized (the law to be enacted from 2016 on). But the most important limitation factor to full respect of human rights is the “identity politics” implemented in Estonia since regaining of independence in 1991. The large Russian-speaking minority (mainly people who had moved to Estonia from other parts of the USSR during Soviet times and their progeny) have got citizenship problems. They are treated as any other immigrants, who need apply and pass serious (including B1 language) testing for citizenship. Thus, in 1992, one third of the population was without any citizenship, while even in 2012 there were 6.8% who were stateless. Non-citizen residents, to their part, have no right to vote at national elections, but just at municipal ones. Estonian language is favoured to the degree that minority-language high schools are obliged to deliver 60% of their curricula in it. Another questionable facet of the identity politics is the official narrative on the WW2 and on the Holocaust. Even though direct Holocaust denial is just occasional, a de-contextualization or other distortion of the facts on Holocaust is widespread. Especially the role of domestic actors (e.g. Nazi collaborators) is blurred in school curricula or in other public discourse. On the ethnic Russian side, however, similar distorters tend to portrait any Anti-Sovietism or any anti-communism in Baltic countries as “historic revisionism” or even “fascism”. Besides identity politics, Estonia needs to improve a lot in gender politics. Gender wage gap is bigger than in comparable countries, while human trafficking and domestic violence also pose problems.