“Human Rights in Soviet Society” is an exhibition that aims to enlighten younger people who were born and raised in an independent Estonia on how, just a quarter century ago, the basic rights and liberties we may take for granted today were anything but self-evident. As the Soviet Union recedes further into the past, the media tends to remember the comic and humorous elements while often overlooking the inhuman face of the regime. Sometimes it is assumed that repressions took place only during the Stalin years.

Texts written by experts in the field explore the various facets of human rights – some of them perhaps not as well-known as others – and shed light on aspects that are sure to be unfamiliar for today’s youth. For example, how much do they know about the persecutions suffered by the clergy, and what sorts of taxation and social policy instruments or harsh criminal sanctions were used to combat private enterprise?

Parallels with the present-day are also addressed, as the writers highlight the deep differences between the Soviet Union – a state that applied the law selectively and wielded injustice systematically – and the Republic of Estonia, a modern democracy that upholds and protects human rights.

– Estonian Institute of Human Rights