It was a public holiday for Estonian Independence Day on Friday. This is not for independence from the Soviet Union, but from Tsarist Russia in 1917. It's kind of more like Anzac Day than Australia Day, with military parades and things. Clubs are closed, but it's a half day the previous day and there were a lot of drunk people in town on Thursday night.

After work on the half day I managed to get to the museum of recent occupations - quite appropriate for the day. Estonia had a lot of reason to celebrate independence. They had been occupied continuously for around 800 years by Danes, Germans, Russians and Swedes. The fought back a couple of times but mostly just copped it. In 1917 they were occupied by Russia, who were having their own revolution. Estonia took the opportunity to declare indepence, and enjoyed it until the second world war, when Germany occupied them. Although they weren't completely happy with this, they preferred the Germans to the Russians. The Nazis may have killed a few Estonians, but the Russians had killed and tortured many more. Estonians fought on both sides, but most sided with the Germans or Finns to keep the Russians out.

Sadly for them Germany lost the war and Russia occupied them again. There was some hope that the west would help them out, but politics put a stop to that. Those that had fought against Russia were captured and imprisoned, so many of them took refuge in the forests. A lot of these "political criminals" gained a Robin Hood / Ned Kelly style of fame, and were heros to the people, some still in hiding until 1991. They organised themselves into a freedom fighting group, but weren't incredibly effective. They were kept in check with imprisonments, torture, general disappearances, and at one stage a mass deportation. In general occupation by Russians sucked.

Come 1991 and the baltic states were the first to gain independence from the Soviet Union. They were very happy about it (again).

My own opinion of the Soviet Union is that it completely sucked and fell apart, not because of some intrinsic problems with the socialist ideal, but more because of all the bad management. I'm sure all the corruption, limited freedom, and terrible architecture wasn't detailed by Karl Marx. The idea is to make people more equal, not make them poor and unhappy. The Soviet Union probably would have failed whether it was right or left aligned, because there were idiots in charge.

Anyway, independence day for me was going for a run along the train tracks, followed by a family dinner - far too much food, although I was very pleased that there wasn't near as much fat and crap processed meat as usual.

Other than that I've been going to a few rock concerts and not getting enough sleep.

All my random photos from Estonia are going up here