Sinking, Swedish press & Viznyuk-style propaganda
For me one of the ugliest of the wakes of the M/S Estonia disaster was
the wave of anti-Estonian-crew propaganda carried on in Swedish
media. As a consequence I lost any respect I may have had for the
corporative tradeunion structure in Sweden. The same goes to some
degree for the Swedish media and public-image creating structures.
A number of people, broadcasts and articles expressed from the very
first day after the tragedy the opinion that the it all happened
due to "incompetence, negligence and lack of morals of the mostly-Estonian
crew": all these words have been used. It was publicly suggested
that "the accident would not have happened, had there been a Swedish crew".
The perfect example of the campaign was an absurd lie that the acting
captain Arvo Andresson who went down with the ship (as almost all
the ship officers did, BTW) was a Swedish citizen (he was not and
never had been, nor was he a Swede in any sense of the word), whereas
the Estonian captain Avo Piht escaped "like a coward". Avo Piht was
a passenger on that trip, and so far nobody has found him, anyway.
The atmosphere in Swedish media was similar to the infamous extreme
Russian nationalist Viznyuk, who claimed that the ship had sailed
happily under the Russian crew, but the Estonian crew sank the
ship due to every possible negative quality you can imagine (of course,
in reality the ship has never sailed under a soviet or Russian
flag or a crew).
As we know now for sure, the crew was in no way responsible in what
had happened. We know they did what was humanly possible and they
mostly went down with ship, even if theoretically they would have
had the best chances of survival. We know that similar accidents
(not as serious, fortunately) have happened numerous times to
ships going between Finland and Sweden and that they have been
largely covered up by Swedish and Finnish authorities: that much
To top it off with minor points: as we know, Estline was owned
50-50 between the Swedish Nordstr"om & Thulin and the Estonian
state company. It was specifically Nordstr"om & Thulin who were
responsible for the security and safety. Their inspectors
examined the ship and the crew, who have been reported as
"overdoing" the security stuff, due to "inexperience". With that
I do not want to say that Nordst"om & Thulin are responsible. Quite
clearly it is the cheap design of the Ro-Ro ships and to some degree
the cover-up of accidents by Swedish and Finnish (and others, I guess)
authorities. I do not rule out diversion or a mine or a submarine,
but this does not remove the obvious design flaws. Even when we
speak about fixing the cars & cargo safely to their place (and we know
now that the cargo & cars were NOT the reason of the accident),
then there were numerous speculations in the Swedish media claiming
that lazy and low-moral Estonian crewmen did not fix the cars properly.
Well, we know now they did. I have been on ferries between Sweden
and Denmark, Sweden and Finland, with NO sign of cars being fixed
to their positions.
I do understand that the Swedish trade unions want to have as many
Swedish crews on ships on Baltic as possible. However, the fact that
they seriously use an enormous catastrophy like that to take over
the few jobs there are for Estonian seamen on the Baltics, and that
they do this by spreading absurd lies and groundless accusations
in the address of the deceased crew is for me as hard to believe as the
very fact that an accident like that could happen.
The same goes even more seriously to Swedish media, who were happy
to amplify and transmit the ugly anti-Estonian desinformation campaign
possibly (not necessarily?) originated by the trade unions.
It really was the shock nr 2 I had to experience during the last
week, as unexpected as the shock nr 1.