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Last Updated: Monday, 14 January 2008, 14:37 GMT
Estonia trial of Russia activists
Ethnic Russians on trial in Tallinn, 14 Jan 08
The trial marks a new low point in Estonian-Russian relations
Four ethnic Russian activists have gone on trial in Estonia charged with fomenting unrest during the removal of a Soviet-era war memorial last April.

The four are accused of orchestrating looting and violence.

Estonians of Russian origin rioted after the statue of a Soviet World War II soldier was moved from the centre of the capital Tallinn.

Estonians say the soldier symbolised Soviet occupation. Russians see it as a tribute to those who fought the Nazis.

ESTONIA-RUSSIA TIES
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

The four defendants - Dmitry Linter, Maxim Reva, Mark Siryk and Dmitry Klensky - could face up to five years in prison.

One Russian died in unclear circumstances and 153 protesters were injured in the rioting that erupted in Tallinn last April.

Police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the protesters.

In Moscow on Monday, activists from the pro-Kremlin youth movement, Nashi, demonstrated outside the European Commission's offices.

They accused the EU of refusing entry to Nashi leaders because of their role in anti-Estonian protests in Moscow.

More than a quarter of Estonia's 1.3 million people are ethnically Russian and speak Russian. However, half of them do not have Estonian citizenship.

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

SEE ALSO
Country profile: Estonia
30 Nov 07 |  Country profiles
When giants fought in Estonia
09 May 07 |  Europe
In pictures: Estonia clashes
27 Apr 07 |  In Pictures

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