Estonia’s sinking in September 1994 was a national tragedy for newly independent Estonia, from which it has still not fully recovered.
More than a third of the 852 people drowned in Estonia were Estonians, and in proportion to the population, Estonians died by far the most in Turma.
The recent Swedish documentary series on the sinking of Estonia opens particularly painful wounds in Estonia, where the validity of the official theory of sinking that has prevailed so far has been questioned more than in neighboring Finland and Sweden.
One of Estonia’s greatest experts in Estonia can be considered Margus Kurmia, who chaired the Estonian Research Commission Estonia from 2005 to 2009. Kurm is also a former Estonian Prosecutor General, in addition to whom he has assisted the relatives of Estonian victims in lawsuits related to Estonia.
Kurm has always been very skeptical about Estonia’s official explanation of the sinking, ie that the ship’s bow visor opened in a severe storm. He has previously emphasized in interviews that, according to a sailor saved from Estonia, the visor was closed until the end.
Kurm now tells Iltalehti that he is not at all surprised by the hole in the Estonian side highlighted by the Swedish documentary.
– I was sure of the hole already in 2008, at the latest after the two scientific consortia set up by Sweden had published their research data, says Kurm.
According to him, it cannot be anything other than a hole made by a submarine.
– The rupture is below the ship’s waterline, so it can only be a collision. At least I can’t say that anything other than a submarine could have collided with the ship, because there can hardly be any other traffic below the water’s surface. Another ship is out of the question, and there is arguably no other shipping in the area.
Also a wreck damage specialist Linus Andersson says in the Dplay document that he sees the hole as collision damage. However, the document does not address the cause of the rupture.
According to Kurmi, it is also worth keeping in mind that the sea is 80 meters deep at the sinking point, which means that no rock edge could have broken the bottom.
He says he had wondered in the past how similar ro-ro ships were similar, or in supposedly equivalent, accidents gone around in a couple of minutes. It eventually took half an hour from Estonia.
Most of all, however, Kurm has wondered how the accident has been investigated.
– The keys to solving the Estonia mystery have always been in Sweden, he claims.
In interviews with Estonian newspapers, Kurm has even said that Swedish Estonian researchers have lied to Estonians. From the outset, Kurm has drawn attention to the urgency with which the traces of the accident began to be covered soon after.
– A grave agreement was signed in 1995, even though the commission of inquiry had not even finished its work, Kurm says.
– The Swedes said that the wreck had been filmed only once, and in the end it turned out that the original films filmed had disappeared. How credible is that? I tried to get to know the movies myself, but to no avail.
Kurm asks to bear in mind that as early as 1994, Sweden was a powerful maritime state with the most up-to-date facilities and equipment for submarine degrees: in addition to submarines and divers, among other things, remotely operated robots.
– Think about it now: more than 850 people are lying on the seabed, and Sweden is not ready to use all available means to resolve the case.
Kurm says he considers it certain or fairly certain that some secret material was transported in Estonia, but he does not want to guess what it was all about.
Already in 2006, the Estonian Parliament acknowledged that at least twice before the accident, the military equipment of the Red Army had been transported from Tallinn to Stockholm. However, there is no confirmed information on similar transports on the night of the accident.
According to Kurm, it is also impossible to say whether the transportation of secret material would have been the reason why Estonia sank.
– As I said, I think it is most likely that Estonia did hit a Swedish submarine, but it is impossible to say whether it was an accident. The sinking was due to this collision.
Margus Kurm is now not the only Estonian to demand a new reopening of the Estonian sinking investigation. However, he is skeptical of the new government-led inquiry, as the confidence capital of political leaders has already been little depleted.
Sweden, Finland and Estonia have now promised to launch new, state-led investigations.
– The new Commission of Inquiry should also include representatives of victims’ relatives and journalists, who could publish the material online on an ongoing basis as something new emerges. The main thing would be transparency, that is, nothing is left to a small number of people, Kurm emphasizes.
Anneli was orphaned
A member of the Estonian parliament also supports the opening of a new Estonia investigation Anneli Ott (Center Party). Over the years, Ott has often been present in Estonia on behalf of Estonia, as he lost both his parents in a shipwreck.
Ott was 18 years old and had just begun his studies at the University of Tartu when he learned of the death of his father and mother.
– From then on, the role of my parents was filled by my grandmother, who had already lived with us before. At the time of the accident, my brother was younger than me, in the last grade of high school. Somehow we had to figure it out and move on with our lives, Ott says now.
Ott is pleased that the Prime Ministers of Estonia, Finland and Sweden have recently said that they support the launch of a new investigation into Estonia. Ott, however, smiles that it has been 26 years since sinking. I guess the new investigation could have started earlier?
– It is clear that the new investigation must be led by the state, but the commission must include independent experts from all three countries, Ott insists.
– The ship must finally be thoroughly inspected and using the most up-to-date and state-of-the-art technology. However, it is just as important to find out why the truth has been kept secret for so long and by whom.