Estonia removes Soviet-era monuments
Estonia on Tuesday removed a World War II memorial built in honor of the Red Cross in the city of Narva, which is home to a large Russian-speaking minority.
“My government has decided to remove Soviet monuments from public places in Estonia”Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said A tweettuesday “Symbols of Soviet repression and occupation, they have become a source of growing social tension – at this time we must keep risks to public order to a minimum”She added.
Earlier, the head of government said that Estonia would “Act quickly to ensure public order and internal security”. We will not allow Russia to exploit the past to disturb the peace.she repeated.
Local opposition to the removal of a monument depicting an old Red Army T-34 tank has raised fears of a repeat of the riots that erupted in Tallinn in 2007 following the hijacking of another Soviet monument.
Estonian Interior Minister Lauri Lanemets said “In the interest of public order and internal security, the monuments in question should be removed before tensions surrounding them escalate further”.
A World War II-era T-34 tank that was part of the Narva Memorial will be moved to the Estonian War Museum. In its place will be a mass grave of war victims “The Neutral Grave”.
Narva Mayor Kadri Raik previously refused to hand over the tank to the museum.
The memorial is located at the center of the city’s annual VE Day commemoration ceremonies. Despite the government ordering the removal of the monument by the end of the year, the Narva City Council has failed to make a decision on its removal.
According to Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu, Russia is trying to exploit “Internal Sections” in the country. Both Estonia and its Baltic neighbor Latvia have Russian-speaking minorities who are sometimes at odds with national governments. Some fear that Moscow is trying to exploit these differences to destabilize these countries, members of the European Union and NATO.
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