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Is the best Estonian a Russian?

Study shows Russians in Estonia more civic-minded.

Of six thousand 8th- and 9th-grade pupils polled, 20% of young Estonians and 30% of young Russians said they would consider running for a seat in a municipal council. 19% of young Estonians and 30% of young Russians said they would join a political party. Even more disappointing: only 37.5% of young Estonians said they would do volunteer work, while 62% of young Russians claimed to be ready.

Do Estonian-speaking Estonians care less about their country than Russian-speaking Estonians? Not necessarily. Russians are just more willing to do something.

Tartu University administrative policy lecturer Anu Toots, the study’s coordinator, said Russian youth’s cultural background makes them more politically active: “This is shown in everyday life, too. Estonians read and listen and watch more, while Russians communicate and act.”

If Estonians seem quite content, their Russian counterparts are not. The number of young Russians who would like to live abroad permanently has almost doubled, from 26% to 40%, since the study was first conducted in 1999. This statistic should worry Estonians. If the Russians leave Estonia, who’ll run the country?