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significant decision

Estonia starts removing war memorials from the Soviet era

Estonia has made the decision to remove war memorials from the Soviet era from public areas.
 |  Borena Kuliashvili  | 

The administration stated that the action was taken to stop them from “mobilizing greater enmity in society and tearing fresh old wounds” in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.A famous T-34 tank was being transported to the Estonian War Museum in the Russian border city of Narva.

The third-largest city in Estonia is Narva, where 60,000 people live and 97% of them speak Russian.

After the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991, Estonia regained its independence.

According to public radio ERR, the replica tank was removed from a plinth on Tuesday morning and loaded into a military trailer before traveling 200 kilometers (125 miles) to the west. Authorities claimed they were limiting public access to the vicinity of the tank and other nearby landmarks.

Estonia worries that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is causing tension in Narva.

In her statement, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said her government would not “afford Russia the opportunity to use the past to disturb the peace in Estonia”.

“Considering the speed of the increasing tensions and confusion around memorials in Narva, we must act quickly to ensure public order and internal security.”

Such monuments, according to Estonia’s Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu, were built to celebrate Russian domination and have no place in Estonia’s public realm.

The administration understands that moving the World War Two cemetery with “a neutral grave marker” in addition to the T-34 tank may cause resentment.

Russia expressed outrage over Estonia’s plans last week.

“The war against history, moreover with a common history and the disposal of monuments for those who saved Europe from fascism, is of course outrageous,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said.

Additionally, Estonia is revoking 50,000 or so Russian nationals’ visas.

“We have to admit that Russian society, by and large, also bears a passive moral responsibility for these atrocities, which take place in Ukrainian soil,” Mr Reinsalu said.

The Czech Republic, Latvia, and Lithuania have all but ceased granting Russians visas. Finland is cutting the number of Russian visas it grants by 10%.


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