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10 Jul, 2019 06:00

‘Insult to all who fought Nazis’: Russia blasts Estonia for plans to restore SS soldier monument

‘Insult to all who fought Nazis’: Russia blasts Estonia for plans to restore SS soldier monument

Estonia’s plans to bring back a monument to a soldier dressed in Waffen SS uniform is a provocation and affront to the memory of those who died fighting the Nazis, the Russian Embassy has said.

The stela with a bronze bas-relief depicts an armed trooper in Nazi gear, and a tablet reading: “To Estonian men who fought in 1940-1945 against Bolshevism and for the restoration of Estonian independence.” It caused a lot of controversy after being erected at the cemetery in the town of Lihula in August 2004.

The government ordered its removal less than two weeks later, saying that the memorial created unnecessary links between Estonian independence fighters and the German invaders. Nazi sympathizers staged rallies on the spot where the stela once stood. Last year, one such demonstration attracted around 200 people.

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However, this June, a local MP for the Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) in the Laaneranna Parish Council suggested that it was high time to restore the SS monument.

On Tuesday, his idea was backed by the speaker of the Estonian Parliament in the capital Tallinn. “It’s a very good undertaking because it’s a memorial to Estonian men,” Henn Polluaas, who is also an EKRE member, explained.

The Russian Embassy vigorously condemned the plan, saying that “attempts to glorify the former Waffen SS fighters in Estonia look especially blasphemous in the year when the 75th anniversary of the country’s liberation from the Nazis is celebrated.”

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“Among tens of thousands of the Red Army soldiers, who died during the battles on the Estonian land, there were a lot of Estonians, who didn’t spare their own lives to banish the Hitler forces,” it stated.

Bringing back the monument to those who joined the SS will become “an insult to the memory of all who died fighting the Nazis on Estonian soil.”

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