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Last Updated: Friday, 1 December 2006, 12:54 GMT
Russia and Estonia in Soviet spat
Hammer and sickle
Soviet symbols remain important for many Russian war veterans
Russia has protested about plans by Estonia to criminalise displays of Soviet symbols.

A Russian foreign ministry spokesman said it was "blasphemous" to equate the hammer and sickle with Nazi emblems.

The Estonian government has put a bill before parliament calling for fines or jail terms of up to three years for those who display such symbols.

Estonia was occupied by the Nazis in World War II and then ruled by Moscow for five decades.

Russia denies the Soviet years amounted to an "occupation" of Estonia.

War veterans in the large Russian minority in Estonia often wave red Soviet flags when marking Soviet-era anniversaries.

The Baltic republic became independent in 1991 and is a member of both Nato and the EU.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said on Thursday that "recently the Estonian side has been obstinately taking provocative steps aimed at seriously aggravating our relations".

"The Estonian authorities are continuing their blasphemous attempts to rewrite the history, bracketing Nazi crimes with the feat of the Soviet people, who made a decisive contribution to the liberation of Europe from fascism," Itar-Tass news agency quoted him as saying.

Baltic honours Soviet opponents
13 Jan 06 |  Europe
Country profile: Estonia
30 Apr 06 |  Country profiles
Thorny legacy of 'Soviet Man'
09 May 05 |  Europe

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