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04 September 2023

Feeling cornered: an analysis of the Russian-speaking minority in Estonia

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The share of Russian speakers within the Estonian population is substantial. According to the 2021 Estonian Population Census they account for 374 038 residents, which is 27.4% of the population as a whole, and include Russians (22.5%), Ukrainians (4.1%), and Belarusians (0.8%). Most of them settled in Estonia during the time of the Soviet Union. 

One year after the beginning of the ongoing war in Ukraine, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), together with Estonian survey institute Turu-uuringute AS, conducted this representative and in-depth survey of the Estonian population with a focus on the Russian-speaking minority. Its main purpose was to find out whether the war had had a major impact on relations between the Estonian majority and the Russian-speaking minority. Five major themes were chosen:

  1. Foreign policy orientation and threat perception
  2. Solidarity with Ukraine
  3. Media and narratives
  4. Identity, affiliation, and feelings of Russian speakers
  5. Relations between Estonians and Russian speakers

The FES hopes that the main results of this opinion poll and its analysis will be discussed in public, furthering the possibilties for social inclusion and mutual understanding. In general, and not only in Estonia, attempts to resolve issues between majority and minority groups can include conversation about how to make a country a better home for everyone, and how to build a stronger community and a more resilient, democratic society.

Feeling Cornered: An Analysis of the Russian-Speaking Minority in Estonia
(1.64 MB - PDF)


Reinhard Krumm, Tõnis Stamberg, Irina Strapatšuk
Geographic area
Contributor type
Academics and experts
European Institutions/organisations
Original source
Posted by
Kristjan Kaldur
Country Coordinator

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