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 Estonia may lose Russian-speaking north-eastern region in case of conflict with Russia, - experts

In the case of an armed conflict with Russia, the Estonian government may lose control of the Ida-Viru County in the country’s north-east, where the Russian-speaking population prevails.

The expert report signed by advisor to the Estonian government Ilmar Raag reads, Censor.NET informs referring to Interfax-Ukraine.

The experts write about the "consistent Russification" of the region. "If we do nothing, then we will actually lose this county and will face the risk to become unable to control the situation in the northeastern cities in the event of a conflict with Russia," the report reads. The authors believe that quite a small network consisting of about 200 "local terrorists" will be sufficient to spark a conflict

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According to the experts, the disadvantaged groups of the region are the source of great concern since Estonians constitute only a fifth part of about 150,000 local residents, while the urban share of Estonian population is only about 5 percent. The county's population has decreased by 21 percent over the past seven years and it will decrease by a quarter by 2040. The unemployment and crime rate is the highest here (around 30 percent).

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According to the experts, the people do not feel their belonging to Estonia as they are under influence of information they get from Russia and the Russian television. Only 6 percent believe that the threat comes from the Russian Federation, while 44 percent consider the main ally of Estonia - the U.S. - as a threat. In addition, 60 percent are against the presence of NATO troops in the country calling a good relationship with Russia the guarantor of the security of Estonia. One in three believes that Russia has the right to defend its compatriots in the territory of the former USSR.

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