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THE Estonian government has announced plans to remove Soviet monuments throughout the country.
At a press conference in Tallinn on Thursday, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said: “We discussed the removal of memorials bearing the symbols of the occupying power.
“A decision was made; Soviet monuments must be removed from public spaces, and we will do this as soon as possible.”
The decision came after local news reported on Wednesday that in Narva, a city that borders Russia, people had gathered around a monument of a T-34 tank to protest its rumoured dismantlement.
The status of the tank is currently under the control of local authorities. However, according to Ms Kallas: “It is clear that the government should assume responsibility and relocate this and other monuments that have symbolic meaning.”
Kremlin spokesman Dimitri Peskov accused Estonia of inciting a “war with history”, and said he hoped that the public may take the monuments to Russia.
It’s estimated that up to 400 Soviet monuments remain in Estonia, although some were dismantled following the collapse of the USSR.
In one case in 2007, protests shook Tallinn when the government removed a monument depicting a Red Army soldier. One person died and dozens were injured.
Elsewhere in the Baltics, in Latvia, Riga’s local council voted in May to dismantle a Soviet memorial commemorating the city’s liberation from Germany during WWII.
This wider trend follows the footsteps of Ukraine, where “decommunisation” laws were introduced in 2015. The legislation prohibits Soviet symbols and many artworks faced destruction as a result.
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