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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 April 2007, 00:46 GMT 01:46 UK
Estonia blames Russia for unrest
Estonian police ring prone detainees after the riots
Russia has accused Estonian police of using excessive force
Estonia has accused Russia of provoking two nights of rioting over the removal of a Soviet war memorial in the centre of the capital, Tallinn.

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said Moscow had made provocative statements and meddled in Estonia's internal affairs.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has voiced serious concern over the removal of the World War II monument.

One Russian protester was killed during the violence and 153 people were injured and some 800 arrests made.

Estonians say the bronze soldier symbolises Soviet occupation while its supporters say it commemorates heroes who fought the Nazis.

Estonia's government would not reveal where it took the 1.83m (six foot) statue but spokesman Martin Jasko said it would ultimately be placed at the military cemetery in Tallinn.

Speculation is rife that the remains of Soviet soldiers thought to be buried in a small park near the monument will also be moved to another location shortly.

There has been no confirmation of reports of a second death during the riots.


Mr Paet said that the monument symbolised Soviet occupation for most people in Estonia.

Memorial to Soviet soldiers in Tallinn, Estonia
1918: Estonia gained independence from Russia
1940: Forcibly incorporated into Soviet Union
1941-1944: Occupied by Nazi Germany
1944: Soviets return as Nazis retreat
1991: Gains independence as Soviet Union collapses
1994: Last Russian forces leave Estonia
Now: Ethnic Russians make up quarter of Estonia's 1.3m people

"We have had lots of provocations on this site, so that it turned also into a political issue," he said.

"So that, to secure public order in the city, it was also important to find better a place for this monument."

Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip urged Estonians not to allow what he described as those sowing hatred to divide the country.

Adding that the monument was "safe and undamaged", he confirmed that the any soldiers' remains found would be moved to the Defence Forces Cemetery "as soon the necessary preparations are completed".

Russia's foreign ministry accused Estonia of using "excessive force against demonstrators defending a memorial to those who fought against fascism".

For local ethnic Russians it is one insult too many, the BBC's Richard Galpin says, after what they feel has been years of discrimination against them by the majority Estonian population.


Department stores and other shops in the city centre were looted during the violence and there were also reports of rioting and looting in other towns in the ethnic Russian region east of Tallinn.

Thirteen soldiers who lie there never learned about the occupation as they were killed by [the] Nazi[s] on a field of battle
Galina, Gaithersburg USA
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Squads of police were seen moving around the area where the memorial used to stand on Saturday but the situation appeared calm.

The decision to remove the Soviet monument has strained relations with Russia, which called it "blasphemous".

More than a quarter of Estonia's 1.3m people are ethnically Russian, and speak the language.

However, half of them do not have Estonian citizenship.

During the years of Soviet occupation after WWII, tens of thousands of Estonians were killed. And they say their country was effectively colonised with many Russians being brought in as workers and military personnel.

The second night of violence in Tallinn

In pictures: Estonia clashes
27 Apr 07 |  In Pictures
Estonia removes SS monument
24 Jul 02 |  Europe
Country profile: Estonia
26 Apr 07 |  Country profiles

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