icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm
9 Jul, 2007 14:38

Concerns over legal fairness in Estonia

Russian citizens, held in Estonia after April's street clashes in the capital Tallinn, are appealing to the European parliament to monitor their cases because of fears about the fairness of the legal system in Estonia.

The Russians were detained during the riots over the change of location for Soviet soldiers monument from Estonia's city centre to a war memorial on the outskirts.

One of the youngest prisoners, 18-year-old Mark Siryk, was freed on bail last month following a media campaign demanding his release. He is unable to leave Estonia before his trial.

On April 27 Siryk left his home for school where he was to sit his final exam. But several hundred metres away he was stopped by Estonian police. Siryk, who was one of the most active protesters against the relocation of the Soviet war memorial from central Tallinn, was accused of organising violent street clashes in the city. Next morning he found himself behind bars. He spent 20 of the 47 days of his imprisonment in Tallinn's jail. His arrest brought him into the spotlight, with his face appearing in newspapers and on television.

An Estonian court released Mark Siryk from jail until his trial in August on condition that he doesn't leave the country or speak about the case to the media. Despite his arrest he still believes the protesters' cause was right.

“We want the European, not American democracy to triumph in Estonia. And I wish Estonia will think before making its next turn,” Mark said.

But the Estonian government is adamant that many of the protesters are criminals.

“We have to look at the people who were outside in the streets breaking the law and public order. People who have something criminal in their minds just used the opportunity,” Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said on one of the days following the protests in Tallinn.

Many people remain in custody after April's street clashes in Tallinn. Some are accused of looting, others of offending the Estonian state. Human Rights activist Irina Anashchenkova avoided charges for taking part in rallies, but says she's an exception to the rule.

“Many confirmed they were beeping their car horns in order to offend Estonian police or to protest against the Estonian policy, and now they face criminal charges, which is absolutely right, according to the country's constitution,” Irina Anashchenkova said.

Meanwhile, according to the latest opinion poll carried out by the Russian Public Opinion centre, most Russians are extremely concerned that the Bronze Soldier was moved from the Centre of Tallinn.

Around 30% of Russians say they are slightly concerned about the fact, while 14% admit they don't care. But the overwhelming majority of the participants of the poll agrees or partly agrees with the statement that the Estonian government have deliberately relocated the monument in order to anger Russia. Some 80 % of those polled say their attitude to the Estonian government is negative. At the same time, the general attitude towards Estonian citizens is more positive, and only 33% of people say their attitude is negative.