We, Russian students studying in Estonia, appeal to President Alar Karis, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets, Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise, President of the Riigikogu Jüri Ratas, Minister of Health and Labour Peep Peterson, the people of Estonia, and to all not indifferent.
For many years, the authorities of the Russian Federation have enacted numerous discriminatory laws, waged wars of aggression, occupied the territories of other countries, and brutally suppressed any opposition within the country. During this time, those who disagreed with these actions left Russia, fearing for their freedom and safety. One of the destinations for emigration was Estonia, which shares European values, protects freedom of speech, citizens' and residents' rights, and has no illusions about the danger of Putin's Russia.
Throughout these years, students from Russia enrolled in Estonian universities, learned the language, integrated into the Estonian society, worked, paid taxes, and started families, and many of us planned to stay in Estonia. The regulation of the Government of Estonia of July 30, 2022, which prohibits students with Russian citizenship to obtain and extend a residence permit to study, puts an end to those plans. We, students from Russia studying in Estonia, are calling for the restrictions to be reconsidered, as we believe that this measure not only does not help to stop the war in Ukraine, but also breaks the lives of many innocent people.
For years we opposed Putin's regime, the annexation of Crimea, and the Russian aggression in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. After Russia started full-scale invasion in Ukraine in February 2022, Russian students openly expressed their anti-Putin and anti-war stance, protested, spread the information about the war and Russian war crimes, donated money to the Armed Forces of Ukraine and Ukrainian foundations, helped war refugees, and volunteered at Estonian refugee centers. We realized that for these actions we would face criminal prosecution in Russia, and we understood that we would not be able to return there again until the fall of Putin's regime.
We strive to actively integrate into the Estonian society, as we are highly motivated to live in a country with working democratic institutions and great respect for human rights. We actively use the opportunities offered by the Estonian state: we participate in integration programs and events, study trips and international projects, learn the culture and local laws, work and pay taxes. We can say with confidence that the integration process is fully in the interests of Estonian society. We did not come to Estonia to bring the values of a foreign culture here, but to understand and embrace the values of the Estonian linguistic, cultural, and social environment. It is worth mentioning that the academic program offered by Narva College of the University of Tartu, which included a year of learning Estonian language and culture, thus allowing students to master Estonian at a high level in a very short amount of time, grow to sincerely love Estonian culture, and stay to live and work in democratic Estonia, which has become a real home for us during this time.
At the same time, students from Russia study at almost all Estonian universities. We are involved in sectors important to the Estonian economy. Among us are teachers, IT professionals, youth workers, doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs, musicians, and many other experts in their field. Many of us have studied or continue to study on a state-financed basis, found jobs, founded businesses and non-profit organizations, successfully integrated into the society, made friends, passed state examination in Estonian, got married, and even had children enrolled in kindergartens and schools. If we are expelled from Estonia now, in addition to many personal tragedies, it means wasted taxpayers' money and quite noticeable damage to the Estonian economy (especially for local governments), when we, future or already qualified workers in the Estonian labor market, will be forced to leave the country without being able to obtain a residence permit in the country where we have been educated.
For some students, returning to Russia is impossible because of the risk of unjust criminal prosecution. Even those students who do not yet face such a risk, there is another threat: a hidden mobilization in Russia is ongoing, meaning that male students risk being forcibly enrolled into the Russian military forces, sent to war, and become cannon fodder in the insane and senseless war which they actively oppose. Political repression in today’s Russia has taken such an absurd form that people can be jailed for expressing their views on social networks, just using the word "war" instead of newspeak-styled “special military operation” introduced by Russian propaganda, or spreading anti-war leaflets. Moreover, torture and humiliation in Russian police stations and prisons have become the commonplace. Some students from Russia belong to national and sexual minorities and have repeatedly faced harassment, discrimination, physical, and psychological violence in Russia.
We understand how the ban on visas and residence permits is being justified in terms of international law. Certainly, international law allows states to prohibit the issuance of visas and residence permits. However, the very same international law prohibits any kinds of discrimination, including those on the basis of nationality and origin. The decision to expel Russian students, in which a great deal of taxpayers' money, effort, and time has been invested, is harsh and irrational. The expulsion of students who actively oppose the war and Putin’s regime could become a blow to the liberal and anti-war segment of Russian citizens. We kindly ask for a legal solution to distinguish supporters of Russian aggression from Russian emigrants who support Ukraine and have been working for Estonia for several years.
We, Russian students studying in Estonia, call on the Estonian government to reconsider the regulation of July 30, 2022, which prohibits Russian citizens legally staying in Estonia from extending and issuing new residence permits for study.
We call on the Estonian government to reconsider the ban on residence permits for students from Russia who entered Estonian universities in 2022.
We call on the Estonian government to reconsider the regulation of April 9, 2022, which prohibits issuing residence permits for work and business to Russian citizens who have received higher education in Estonia, have previous grounds for legally staying in the country, and have a job offer from an Estonian employer.
We ask those not indifferent to support our appeal. We believe that the decision about our permission to live and work for the benefit of Estonia should depend on our deeds and actions, not on our place of birth or the color of our passports.
Students from Russia enrolled in Estonian-language programs at Narva College of the University of Tartu.
Erandeid teha ei saa
Ukrainas on sõda. Eesti toetab Ukrainat. See tähendab ühemõtteliselt, et erandeid teha ei saa. Vene tudengid peavad Eestist lahkuma. Ka teie taotluses endas on suur vasturääkivus. Nimelt kirjutate te: "Me ei tulnud Eestisse, et tuua siia võõra kultuuri väärtusi, vaid et omaks võtta eestikeelse kultuurilise ja sotsiaalse keskkonna väärtused." See on minu hinnangul lihtlabane vale. Vale ka teie eneste meelest, sest kui te soovite olla eestikeelses keskkonnas, siis kelle jaoks on vajalikud vene- ja ingliskeelsed rahvaalgatused? Ootate äkki allkirju otse Kremlist? Putin kirjutaks kindlasti alla. Tema jaoks on kasulik, kui Eestis elab Vene kodanikke. Tema jaoks on kasulik, kui Eesti tänavatel rõkkab vene keel. ERR edastas meile kahe Vene kodanikust tudengi appikarje: https://www.err.ee/1608679288/liit-tahab-juba-eestis-oppivate-vene-tudengite-viisadele-erandit Mõlemad on õpingute lõpufaasis. Kumbki ei suutnud ajakirjanikuga eesti keeles suhelda. Miks nad üldse siin õpivad, kui neid eesti keel ei huvita? Putin noogutab tunnustavalt. Mina ei nooguta, vaid ütlen: "Välja!" Olen ise kohanud Vene tudengeid, kes eelistavad suhelda inglise (!) keeles. Seda ka pärast pikki aastaid elu Eestis. Samuti vohab Vene tudengite seas suurvene šovinism. Üks Vene tudeng ütles mulle malbelt naeratades, et Eesti Vabariik peab garanteerima tema lapsele vene keele õppe. Tal ei olnud üldse häbi sellist solvangut mulle näkku paisata. Ma ei tunne mitte ühtegi eestlast, kes elab välismaal ning nõuab seal riigilt oma lastele eesti keele õpet. Olen ise välismaal elanud ning mul oleks seal olnud häbi käituda nii nagu käituvad venelased Eestis. Vene tudengid tänase seisuga Eestimaale ei kuulu. Neil on ülim aeg siit lahkuda. Ilma eranditeta. p.s. Kui elate Narvas, siis äkki olete käinud Sinimägedes. Mida te arvate Sinimägede lahingust (1944)? Vast mitte seda, mida arvan mina. Ja juba seetõttu peate te lahkuma.
Kahjuks oli teil halb kogemus, mistõttu tegite valesid järeldusi. Inimesed tahavad lihtsalt, et valitsus langetaks otsuseid ainult selle põhjal, mida inimesed teevad, mitte nende kodakondsuse põhjal.
Russian students should have rights to study and work in Estonia.
I think it is wrong to deprive Russian people of the opportunity to study and work in Estonia.