Former chess world champion and Russian political opposition leader Garry Kasparov is shopping for an apartment in the Estonian capital."My wife is currently looking for an apartment," he told Postimees. "It seems to me that Tallinn is a sort of border city, connecting Scandinavia on one side and the former Soviet Union territory on the other."
Kasparov was in town Thursday to support local politician Eerik-Niiles Kross's bid to become mayor of Tallinn in the upcoming local elections. The chess player had left his country for the time being in June, fearing arrest by Russian authorities over anti-Putin demonstrations. It was reported yesterday that he won a ruling against the Russian government in the European Court of Human Rights for an illegal arrest at a Moscow protest in 2007.
In a Russian-language interview with Postimees, he said he first visited Estonia in 1981. That followed with a 30-year interlude before his next visit, but now he visits Estonia regularly.
"In 1981, the Viru Hotel was a symbol of the West in the Soviet Union; today it represents Sovietness for the West. What changes there have been," Kasparov said. "The Russian language has transitioned from being the language of the occupants to a business language," he also noted.
He praised Estonia's IT developments. "After all, it is the birthplace of Skype," he said. "I have a lot of friends in the IT business, politics and the chess association, so my presence here is quite natural," he said.
Commenting on Estonian-Russian relations, Kasparov said things couldn't be expected to be any different in the wake of the Bronze Soldier protests of 2007, in which Russia reacted harshly to the relocation of a Soviet monument from downtown Tallinn, and the ensuing cyber attacks - the world's first of such magnitude - that many blamed Russia for.
"Putin has economic interests - oil, banking," Kasparov said. "I believe that thinking people also understand the real price of Russian propaganda that portrays Estonia as a primary enemy of Russia," he said. "Being at odds with Putin means one must be ready for serious consequences."