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Tensions Flare Up Over Soviet Memorial

Published: January 26, 2007 (Issue # 1240)


MOSCOW Russian lawmakers launched a scathing attack on Wednesday against the Estonian governments plans to relocate Soviet soldiers graves and a monument to the Red Army in downtown Tallinn.

Estonia is meddling with victims and memorials. This is a historic mistake, Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov said after the upper house voted unanimously in favor of a resolution condemning the relocation, Interfax reported.

In its resolution, addressed to the governments of all former Soviet republics and European countries the Federation Council called a law permitting the relocation of military graves an attempt to legalize fascism.

This will obviously lead to the further alienation of the peoples of Russia and Estonia, the resolution stated.

Lawmakers were not alone Wednesday in blasting Estonias intention to move the graves and a Soviet-era bronze statue of a Red Army soldier that hails the Red Army as liberators of Estonia from German occupation.

On Manezh Square, hundreds of members of the United Russia party and the pro-Kremlin youth organizations Young Russia and Nashi protested the proposed move.

The removal of the memorial amounts to the destruction of the memory of the liberators, Nashi spokeswoman Anastasia Suslova said.

Suslova said that if the statue were removed, a member of Nashi would stand in place of the statue as a living monument to the liberator.

In Tallinn on Wednesday, the Estonian parliament considered a bill on the removal of forbidden structures, which would have given authorities the right to move the Red Army statue, where many people gather to celebrate Victory Day each year.

Raivo Jarvi, a member and acting spokesman of the Estonian Reform Party, said by telephone Wednesday that the bill would also ban structures that glorify the occupation of the Republic of Estonia, such as the Red Army statue.

Jarvi insisted the statue would not be destroyed, however, but moved to a Soviet-era seaside military cemetery. People are offended by the presence of the monument in the center of the city, he said.

The bill failed on a second reading, however.

The bill was rejected in its present form, Estonian parliament spokesman Gunnar Baal said.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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