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6 Jul, 2007 01:19

Defender of Bronze Soldier still in prison

The monument may have been relocated and the soldiers reburied, but the dispute over the Bronze Soldier in the Estonian capital of Tallinn has not yet been laid to rest. At least one of the demonstrators protesting against the monument's removal in April

Two months after street clashes with the police over the relocation of the Bronze Soldier, Aleksey Rattik still remembers those moments with a nervous tremor.

“There were policemen who tried to stop us moving. Some of them were not even staff policemen, some had temporary uniforms no ID. If you wanted to avoid being beaten, you had to sit calm, silent and not ask questions,” recalls witness Aleksey Rattik.

This he says was the price for protesting against the removal of the monument to Soviet soldiers from central Tallinn. After that night in the harbour protesters say they were forced to defend themselves, not the monument.

When they exhausted all methods of defence inside Estonia, they took their claims to a higher court. Yury Zhuravlyov from the Night Watch movement, along with a couple of supporters, went to Brussels to show members of the European Parliament how they had been treated in the EU member state.

“We prepared them a 4-minute-long video, showing policemen beating people on the floor. The deputies were shocked. They never thought this could happen in Europe,” explains Yury.

The Estonian authorities accuse them of organising the street clashes. But Yury says central Tallinn being crashed by looters was the last thing he wanted to see.

Meanwhile, Dmitry Linter, the leader of Night Watch, is still in Tallinn prison. His wife Marina says she was given the chance to see him only once in July.

“My husband lives in conditions which are far from European standards. He suffers some problems in the heat, but we hope everything will be ok,” Marina Linter commented.

Along with her daughter-in-law, Leonora Linter is hopeful her son will be freed, despite the court denying early release this week.

“He talked to an investigator only once during the last two months in prison. The facts they have could hardly be called evidence. He didn't participate in any clashes. He said in an interview that it's not their way,” said Dmitry Linter's mother.

Dmitry hasn't been charged yet, and is likely to be released in two months' term. But he says this will not erase the memories of the terrible night he remembers in Tallin's harbour.