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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2007, 21:51 GMT
Russia slams Estonia statue move
By Laura Sheeter
BBC News, Tallinn

Memorial to Soviet soldiers in Tallinn, Estonia
The memorial has inspired violence between communities
Russian MPs have threatened to impose sanctions on Estonia if a controversial Soviet war memorial is removed from the Baltic State's capital, Tallinn.

Members of Russia's lower house voted unanimously to condemn plans to move the "Bronze Soldier".

The brick and bronze monument commemorates Red Army soldiers who fought in World War II.

The Estonian foreign ministry has described Russia's accusation of "heroising Nazism" as "groundless".

The resolution passed by the Russian Duma pulls no punches in its criticism of the Estonian government, condemning what it called the "Neo-Nazi and revanchist mood in Estonia".

Outrage

Russia, and many ethnic Russians in Estonia, consider the monument commemorates those who died to liberate Estonia from the Nazis.

However, the Soviet Union had occupied Estonia before the Second World War, and annexed it again in 1945, and so many Estonians regard the statue as a symbol of the country's occupation.

After clashes between ethnic Russian and Estonian activists at the site of the statue, the Estonian government said it wanted to move the monument - and the soldiers' remains thought to be buried beneath it - to a more suitable location.

Estonia is in the process of passing the laws needed to allow it to do that - and it is the signing into law of one of them - the War Graves Protection Act - which has caused such outrage in Moscow.

The Russian resolution seems unlikely to stop the monument being moved, however.

Estonia's Foreign Minister, Urmas Paet, has dismissed it, saying that Estonia does not respond to groundless accusations.


SEE ALSO
Estonia removes SS monument
24 Jul 02 |  Europe
Country profile: Estonia
03 Jan 07 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Estonia
23 Sep 06 |  Country profiles

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