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20 Jan, 2007 18:10

Estonia’s Soviet monuments bill causes indignation

Estonia’s Soviet monuments bill causes indignation

The new Estonian “War Graves Protection Bill”, has caused uproar among both common people and politicians. It allows authorities to dismantle WW II monuments to Soviet Soldiers and remove their remains.

Many a Russian World War II veteran feels betrayed by the decision to move the war memorials in the land they fought for.

One of them, Andrey Novikov, shared his view with Russia Today. “My fellows and I, all who fought during WW II, are indignant,” say he. “It’s barbaric, it’s vandalism. Only I alone lost about 700 fellow-soldiers. People who can do this don’t respect their national traditions.”

According to Tallinn the law is aimed at moving the remains to places where they will be looked after and respected. The mass exhumation of Soviet soldiers, who fought against German Nazis, may begin as soon as this May. The law applies to all graves from all wars anywhere on the territory of Estonia, but critics claim it is aimed at the Bronze Soldier monument in the centre of Tallinn in the first place.

The monument and grave has been a focus for those who support the action and those who are strongly against it. It might be the first one to be dismantled. Russian youth movements and civil organizations in Estonia are seeking to prevent its demolition. Their peers in Moscow also held a demonstration in front of the Estonian embassy on Friday.

The law allowing the removal of the monuments was signed on the January 10 by the country's president. A week later the Russian State Duma condemned it. The members of parliament said Estonian authorities are justifying fascism by signing the bill. Their sentiments were shared by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.