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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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