When foreigners tell Russia to stop committing human rights atrocities in Chechnya, Russians say it’s an internal Russian affair and outsiders have no business sticking in their noses. But when Estonia does something Russia doesn’t like (for instance, suppressing a violent riot that included crazed, wild-eyed looters like the one in the photograph, from Itching for Estonia) of Russian nationalists trying to prevent Estonia from moving the graves of Russian soldiers, who subjugated and raped the nation)? Suddenly, Russia has the right to dictate. News.com reports:
ESTONIAN authorities moved a Soviet-era war memorial from central Tallinn under cover of darkness today setting off riots that left at least one dead and sparking fury in Moscow.
The leader of the Russian senate called for diplomatic relations with Estonia to be broken because of the removal of the monument. Russia’s foreign ministry called the move “blasphemous” and said relations would be examined. As Estonian authorities cordoned off the central square where the Red Army war memorial has been for decades, about 1000 pro-Russian demonstrators gathered nearby to protest. Their demonstration turned into a riot in which police used water cannon, rubber batons, and flash and sound grenades to disperse crowds and prevent youths from forcing their way through a police cordon. “One person died after being taken to hospital and 43 have been treated for injuries sustained in the violence,” Tallinn police chief Raivo Kuut said on Estonian Television. More than 300 people were detained following the riots which were the worst the Baltic state has seen since restoring independence from Moscow in 1991.
A government emergency commission met during the night and ordered the controversial monument removed from the square to a new location, which is being kept secret, the Government press office said. Ethnic Estonians see the memorial as a symbol of 50 years of Soviet occupation while Russia considers it a symbol of the fight against Nazism in World War II. “The aim of the Government move was to prevent further similar gross violations of public order, which pose a real threat to citizens’ health and property,” the Government said. The plan to relocate the statue has caused anger in Moscow, which says the Estonians are glorifying fascism by insisting on moving it.
Sergei Mironov, head of the upper house of the Russian Parliament, called today for a break in relations with Estonia. “I urge you to adopt a resolution addressed to the president recommending a break in diplomatic relations with Estonia,” he told MPs. Russian MPs were to vote on a non-binding resolution today. A spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry, Mikhail Kamynin, called the Estonian government’s action “blasphemous” and “inhuman”. He added that Russia would re-examine its relations with the ex-Soviet Baltic state. The head of the international affairs committee in the lower house of the Russian Parliament, Konstantin Kosachyov, also recommended tough measures against Estonia today. “We will of course demand from the executive the toughest possible reaction to what is happening in Estonia,” Mr Kosachyov was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency. “It’s barbaric, it’s blasphemous,” Mr Kosachyov said.
The Estonian Government voted last year to move the monument to a less prominent location after scuffles broke out at the memorial between pro-Russian supporters and ethnic Estonians. Estonia and its Baltic neighbours were annexed by the Soviet Union at the close of World War II and only regained independence in 1991. The authorities wanted to conduct excavation work at the site to determine if any fallen World War II soldiers lie buried beneath the statue before moving it.
Kommersant reports: “According to the Tallinn newspaper Postimees, activists from Russia’s Nashi movement have moved into the Meriton Grand Hotel Tallinn (69 euros a night) a few hundred meters from the monument. In addition, Dmitry Linter, one of the leaders of the ‘Night Watch’ has also recently promised that ‘surprises are in the works’ for the Estonian authorities.” In other words, Russia sent the Nashi youth cult in to attempt to destabilize the Estonian government, yet Putin just got finished complaining that foreign NGO’s are seeking to support the “Other Russia” coalition in his state-of-the-nation address. Russia can’t have it both ways.
So it seems the government of Estonia is “inhuman” because it dares to disagree with Russia. Perhaps that means it should be “exterminated” like an infestation? Break diplomatic relations? Mironov is the same person who is calling for appointing Vladimir Putin an indefinite rule as dictators, the same one who stood by watching trainees use Alexander Litvinenko’s photograph for target practice. Who are the Russians kidding? Estonia is a part of NATO and the EU. Attacking Estonia is attacking NATO and the EU — and, come to think of it, Putin just announced a pullout from a major security treaty in Europe. Maybe war is just what Russia wants?