Below is a tribute written by Jüri Estam in Tallinn, Estonia, to Vladimir-Georg Karassev-Orgusaar, who died this week in Paris.
Vladimir-Georg Karassev-Orgusaar – a talented stringer for RFE-RL in Paris from 1981 to 2000 – passed away on January 27, 2015, in the French capital.
After his birth on December 14, 1931, in independent Estonia, he was taken to Russia by his mother. As a result he was fluent in both Russian and Estonian.
Karassev-Orgusaar studied history and literature at Tomsk University, and filmmaking at the famed Moscow All-Union State Institute of Cinematography, under the tutelage of Sergei Gerasimov.
He returned to Estonia in the 1960s and made a number of documentary films about Estonian revolutionaries and various turning points in Estonian history.
Karassev-Orgusaar soon ran into trouble with the authorities, because his scripts tended to stray from the official “party line”. His 1968 documentary “Solstice" ("Pööripäev”) included scenes of Soviet tanks and armed Soviet soldiers on the streets of the Estonian capital in 1940, implying fairly clearly that Estonia’s incorporation into the USSR hadn’t been voluntary. His feature film "The Outlaws" ("Lindpriid”) was banned by the Soviet authorities, before it could be shown to the public.
While at the Cannes Film Festival in 1976, Karassev-Orgusaar requested political asylum. He then worked as a freelancer for both the Russian and Estonian services of RFE-RL.
Because of his training as an actor, and thanks to the timbre of his voice, his gift for diction and his erudition, the man was a natural for radio work. He was one of the top assets the Estonian Service of RFE-RL had at its disposal, and did superb work that Estonian audiences continue to praise to this day.
He was presented with the Order of the White Star, 4th Class on behalf of the Republic of Estonia at the Embassy in Paris in 2011 in recognition of his contributions to the restoration of Estonian national independence.
Karassev-Orgusaar endured the cruel cuts of fate for many years as an exile and an outcast, and still hasn’t fully gained the attention or gotten the credit he may otherwise well have earned.
We pause to remember a man who never ceased applying his considerable cinematographic talents to the perpetual tug of war between justice and injustice, more through the airwaves then than at the movies.
A collection may possibly be arranged in order to find a final resting place for Karassev-Orgusaar at the Père-Lachaise cemetery.
Jüri Estam has been employed as a journalist and communicator in many capacities. Born into an Estonian refugee family in the West, he worked as a broadcaster at Radio Free Europe from 1979 until 1989 and was a correspondent in Northern Europe in English and Estonian for the next two years. He moved to Estonia during the week that national independence was reclaimed in August of 1991, and did a stint with ERR at Estonian Television in the 90s as a current affairs program host and documentary filmmaker. Today he’s engaged in various communications activities as a consultant.