Bronze Night

Bronze Night

The Bronze Night ( _et. Pronksiöö), also known as the April Unrest ( _et. Aprillirahutused) and April Events ( _et. Aprillisündmused) refer to the riots and controversy surrounding the 2007 relocation of the Bronze Soldier of Tallinn, the Soviet World War II memorial in Tallinn, Estonia. [cite web| url=http://www.regnum.ru/english/862457.html |title=The "Bronze Night" cost Estonia over 4mn euro |publisher=Regnum news agency |accessdate=2007-10-09 | date=2007-07-27]

Many Estonians considered the Bronze Soldier in the city center a symbol of Soviet occupation and repressionFact|date=March 2008. At the same time the monument has significant symbolic value to Estonia's community of mostly ethnic Russian post-World War II immigrants, symbolising not only Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War, but also their claim to rights in Estonia. [http://pda.regnum.ru/news/issues/823273.html "Russian Historian: The problem is how to live together if the two peoples have such a different memory"] , Alexander Daniel, REGNUM News Agency May 4 2007 ru icon]

Amid political controversy, in April 2007 the Government of Estonia started final preparations for the reburial of the remains and relocation of the statue, according to the political mandate received from the last elections (held in March 2007). Disagreement over the appropriateness of the action led to mass protests and riots (accompanied by looting) lasting 2 nights, the worst Estonia has seen.cite news |title=Tallinn tense after deadly riots |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6602171.stm |publisher=BBC News |date=2007-04-28 |accessdate=2007-07-24] [cite news |coauthor=Tuuli Aug |coauthor=Kadri Masing |coauthor=Aivar Pau |title=Olukord tänavatel on rahulik |url=http://www.epl.ee/artikkel/383785 |publisher=Eesti Päevaleht |date=2007-04-27 |accessdate=2007-07-24 et icon] In the early morning hours of April 27, 2007, after the first night's rioting, the Government of Estonia decided, at an emergency meeting, to relocate the monument immediately, referring to security concerns. By the following afternoon the stone structure had been dismantled as well. As of the afternoon of April 30, the statue without the stone structure had been placed at the Cemetery of the Estonian Defence Forces in Tallinn. [ [http://www.epl.ee/pic.php?suurus=s&file=164643 Picture of statue in new place] ] cite news |title=Pronkssõdur avati taas rahvale vaatamiseks |url=http://www.postimees.ee/300407/esileht/siseuudised/258058.php |publisher=Postimees |date=2007-04-30 |accessdate=2007-07-24 et icon] An opening ceremony for the relocated statue was held on May 8, VE Day. [cite news |first=Marianne |last=Björklund |title=Oron lurar bakom lugn statyinvigning |url=http://www.dn.se/DNet/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=148&a=647718 |publisher=Dagens Nyheter |date=2007-05-08 |accessdate=2007-07-24 sv icon] [cite news |first=Kadri |last=Masing |title=Valitsus asetas vaikuses pronksõdurile pärja |url=http://www.epl.ee/artikkel/385005 |publisher=Eesti Päevaleht |date=2007-05-08 |accessdate=2007-07-24 et icon] (Significantly, Red Army veterans celebrate Victory Day a day later, on May 9.) During June 2007 the stone structure was rebuilt. Relatives have made claims to bodies of four of the war dead. Unclaimed remains were reburied at the military cemetery, next to the relocated monument, on July 3, 2007.cite web |url=http://www.mod.gov.ee/?op=news&id=1259&setlang=eng |title=Reburial service set for 3rd July |publisher=Estonian Ministry of Defence |date=2007-06-29 |accessdate=2007-07-24] cite news |title=Tõnismäelt välja kaevatud punaväelased maeti kaitseväe kalmistule |url=http://postimees.ee/030707/esileht/siseuudised/270103.php |publisher=Postimees |date=2007-07-03 |accessdate=2007-07-24 et icon] cite news |author=TT-AFP |title=Estland begravde sovjetsoldater på nytt
url=http://www.dn.se/DNet/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=148&a=667391 |publisher=Dagens Nyheter |date=2007-07-03 |accessdate=2007-07-21
sv icon] cite news |first=Nataly |last=Koppel |publisher=SL Õhtuleht |url=http://www.sloleht.ee/index.aspx?id=236633 |title=Sõjamehed maeti kaitseväe kalmistule |date=2007-07-03 |accessdate=2007-07-24 et icon]

Background

Historical background

On July 3, 1933 aggression was defined in a binding treaty signed at the Soviet Embassy in London by USSR and The Republic of Estonia. Forms of aggression were defined -"A naval blockade of coasts or ports of another State; Invasion by armed forces of the territory of another State even without a declaration of war" [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,753798,00.html Aggression Defined] at Time Magazine] [League of Nations Treaty Series, 1934, No. 3391.] On September 24 1939, warships of the Red Navy appeared off Estonian ports and Soviet bombers began to patrol over Tallinn and the nearby countryside. [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,762664,00.html Moscow's Week] at Time Magazine on Monday, October 9, 1939] On June 12 1940, the order for a total military blockade on Estonia was given to the Soviet Baltic Fleet. [fi icon [http://www.mil.fi/laitokset/tiedotteet/1282.dsp Pavel Petrov ] at Finnish Defence Forces home page] [ru icon [http://www.rusin.fi/publications/warinpetsamo/indexEN.html documents published] from the State Archive of the Russian Navy] On June 16 1940, the Soviet Union invaded Estonia. [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,764071-2,00.html Five Years of Dates] at Time magazine on Monday, Jun. 24, 1940] After the German occupation of 1941–1944, Soviet forces reconquered Estonia in the autumn of 1944 and Estonia remained a part of USSR until 1991. The Soviet authorities, having gained control over Estonia, immediately imposed a regime of terror.Cemeteries that were destroyed by the authorities during the Soviet era in Estonia include Baltic German cemeteries established in 1774 Kopli cemetery, Mõigu cemetery and the oldest cemetery in Tallinn, from 16th century, Kalamaja cemetery. [et icon [http://www.epl.ee/?artikkel=267323 The destruction of cemeteries by Robert Nerman] ] At the Tallinn Military Cemetery (where the Bronze Soldier was relocated in 2007) the graves of 240 Estonian soldiers from the Estonian War of Independence became reused by Red Army. The monument for Estonia's independence was destroyed by the Soviet authorities. Only the graves of 2 Estonian generals [et icon [http://www.ekspress.ee/viewdoc/1ED52F96F609F1D2C22572B900335353 the destruction of Tallinn Military Cemetery by Pekka Erelt] ] and 15 British servicemen from the era were saved by making the ground a maintenance area. [ [http://www.britishembassy.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1046181016323&a=KArticle&aid=1119525615664 Linda Soomre Memorial Plaque] at britishembassy.gov.uk ]

Interpretation of history

During "perestroika", the reassessment era of Soviet history in USSR, in 1989 the USSR condemned the 1939 secret protocol between Nazi Germany and itself that had led to the invasion and occupation of the three Baltic countries. [ [http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&lr=&q=%221939+secret+protocol%22&btnG=Search The Forty-Third Session of the UN Sub-Commission] at Google Scholar] The collapse of the Soviet Union led to the restoration Republic of Estonia's sovereignty "(See .)" The mass deportations of ethnic Estonians during the Soviet era together with migration into Estonia from other parts of the Soviet Union resulted in the share of ethnic Estonians in the country decreasing from 88% in 1934 to 62% in 1989. [http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5377.htm Background Note: Estonia] AT U.S Department of State] "(See Demographics of Estonia.)"According to the Government of Estonia, [ [http://newsfromrussia.com/cis/2005/05/03/59549.html Estonia says Soviet occupation justifies it staying away from Moscow celebrations - Pravda.Ru ] ] the European Court of Human Rights, [European Court of Human Rights cases on Occupation of Baltic States] the EU, [ [http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+MOTION+B6-2007-0215+0+DOC+PDF+V0//EN Motion for a resolution on the Situation in Estonia] by EU] and the USA, [ [http://www.state.gov/p/eur/rls/rm/86539.htm U.S.-Baltic Relations: Celebrating 85 Years of Friendship] at state.gov] Estonia remained occupied by the Soviet Union until restoration of its independence in 1991 and the 48 years of Soviet occupation and annexation was never recognized as legal by the Western democracies.

According to the European Court of Human Rights, the lawful government of Estonia in 1940 was overthrown and Soviet rule was imposed by force. The totalitarian communist regime of the Soviet Union conducted large-scale and systematic actions against the Estonian population. [ [http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int////tkp197/viewhbkm.asp?action=open&table=F69A27FD8FB86142BF01C1166DEA398649&key=26698&sessionId=1478178&skin=hudoc-en&attachment=true Text of Penart ruling on the site of the ECHR] ] Elections were organized in which only Soviet-supported candidates were permitted to run. [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=NwvoM-ZFoAgC&pg A Historical Dictionary of European National Groups; p238; ISBN 0313309841] ] As reported by "Time Magazine" In 1940: "Those who had failed to have their passports stamped for voting Estonia into the USSR were allowed to be shot in the back of the head by Soviet tribunals." [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,764407,00.html Justice in The Baltic] at Time magazine on Monday, Aug. 19, 1940 ]

At the same time, some commentators fear that Russia's insistence on pro-Soviet historical interpretations may signal an attempt to reclaim control over the "near abroad". [ [http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB118367568881058545.html A Do-Over for Russian History?] at wsj]

The view that Estonia's annexation into USSR was legitimate is reinforced by the official statements of the Russian Federation, [ [http://www.latvia.mid.ru/news/ru/050505_3.html Комментарий Департамента информации и печати МИД России в связи с высказываниями ряда европейских политиков относительно "оккупации" стран Балтии Советским Союзом и необходимости осуждения этого со стороны России] ru icon] including that the USSR presence in the Baltics was legal according to international law and that the Baltics could not be occupied because there was no declaration of war.

Integration efforts in everyday life of Estonia have mainly revolved around two issues: citizenship and language but are hampered by inflammatory Russian allegations of human rights violations and accusations of fascism, whether from religious leaders, associations, media, or the government. [ [http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=2993 Interfax-Religion ] ] [ [http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=2991 Interfax-Religion ] ] cite news |url=http://www.ruvr.ru/main.php?lng=eng&q=4184&cid=59&p=10.11.2006 |title=Estonia is Encouraging a Resurgence of Nazism in Europe |publisher=Voice of Russia |date=2006-11-10 |accessdate=2007-07-25] cite news |url=http://www.interfax.ru/e/B/politics/28.html?id_issue=11620667 |title=Europe must assess neo-Nazism in Estonia - Kokoshin |publisher=Interfax |date=2006-11-13 |accessdate=2007-07-25] cite news |url=http://www.interfax.ru/e/B/politics/28.html?menu=1&id_issue=11622404 |title=State Duma condemns Estonia's 'glorification' of fascism, wants world to 'adequately' assess it |publisher=Interfax |date=2006-11-15 |accessdate=2007-07-25] cite news |url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/04/30/westonia30.xml&DCMP=OTC-Autonolnk |title=Estonia blames memorial violence on Russia |coauthor=Adrian Blomfield |coauthor=Bruce Jones |publisher=The Daily Telegraph |date=2007-05-01 |accessdate=2007-07-25]

Further background

Confrontation

After the restoration of Estonian independence in 1991, a public controversy surrounded the memorial that grew into a direct confrontation about 2006–2007. The eternal flame was put down shortly after the Estonian redeclaration of independence. [http://www.rian.ru/review/20070427/64549323.html День Победы без победителя: Таллин бросил вызов истории] , "RIA Novosti", April 27, 2007 ru icon] In 1994 the memorial underwent a reconstruction. Following the reopening the bronze headstones on the stone background and the protective barrier surrounding the memorial were removed.Екатерина Зорина, [http://www.vesti.ru/doc.html?id=114302&tid=40252 "Свечи совести" для эстонских властей] , Vesti, December 20, 2006. ru icon]

The World War II Red Army veterans and representatives of the Russian-speaking population in Estonia have continued to gather at the monument on certain dates, celebrating May 9 (Victory Day) and September 22 ("Liberation of Tallinn" in 1944). The display of Soviet flags and other Soviet symbols at these gatherings had offended many Estonians. [cite news |title=Estonia split over WWII memorial |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6364399.stm |publisher=BBC News |date=2007-02-15 |accessdate=2007-07-24]

A non-violent confrontation at the monument site took place on May 9 2006, when a group of Estonians headed by Jüri Böhm approached the celebrating Red Army veterans. To preserve public order and out of security concerns, the police helped Böhm and his accompanying group to leave the area, along with their Estonian flag, and let the veterans' meeting with the Soviet symbols continue. [cite news |coauthor=Alo Raun |coauthor=Peeter Kuimet |title=Politsei hoidis pronkssõduri juures ära kähmluse |url=http://www.postimees.ee/120506/esileht/siseuudised/tallinn/200883.php |publisher=Postimees |date=2006-05-09 |accessdate=2007-07-22 et icon] On the next day, Estonian nationalist [cite news |author=BNS |title=Jüri Liim: 9. mail ei ole pronkssõduri juures punalippe |url=http://www.liiklus.ee/57566 |publisher=Liiklus.ee |date=2007-03-26 |accessdate=2007-07-24 et icon] Jüri Liim said he would blow up the monument unless the authorities removed it promptly. [cite news |first=Rando |last=Tooming |title=Jüri Liim lubab Pronkssõduri õhku lasta |url=http://www.postimees.ee/040906/esileht/siseuudised/201093.php |publisher=Postimees |date=2006-05-10 |accessdate=2007-07-24 et icon] In the same month, the tensions rose again and the police kept a 24-hour patrol in place, cordoning off the area until early September 2006. [ [http://www.baltictimes.com/news/articles/15345/ May 9 protesters call for removing Bronze Soldier statue] ]

Estonian journalist Paavo Kangur in his extravagant opinion piece suggested that the confrontations were intentionally provoked to increase the support of Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica and "Estonian Nazi sympathizers" having being manipulated by Russian FSB service. cite news |author=Paavo Kangur |title=Paavo Kangur: eskiis gaasikambri joonisega on valmimas |url=http://www.postimees.ee/260907/esileht/arvamus/285338.php |publisher=Postimees |date=2007-09-26 |accessdate=2007-09-28 et icon Russian translation [http://rus.postimees.ee/270907/glavnaja/mnenie/22956_1.php] , [http://rus.postimees.ee/270907/glavnaja/mnenie/22956_2.php] . ]

A small group of Estonian Russophones set up an organization in mid-2006 called "Nochnoy Dozor" (Night Watch), calling for nightly vigils to guard the monument from possible removal attempts.cite web |url=http://www.pomnim.com/index_eng.htm |title=Petition |author="Nochnoy Dozor" |date=2006-05-24 |accessdate=2007-07-24]

On April 24, 2007, in explaining the necessity for thorough investigation of the burials, Estonian PM Andrus Ansip related a number of urban legends (grave holds remains of executed looters or drunk Red Army soldiers run over by Red Army tank). The Russian press sensationalized Ansip's comments in their headlines, presenting Ansip as disparaging Red Army veterans. [ [http://www.regnum.ru/english/817953.html Estonian prime minister: Drunken looters are buried under the Bronze Soldier Monument] ]

Legislative preparations

War Graves Protection Act

On January 10, 2007, Riigikogu passed the War Graves Protection Act, with 66 votes in favour and 6 against [cite web |publisher=Riigikogu |url=http://www.riigikogu.ee/?id=41996&parent_id=41993&op=printit&langchange=1 |title=The Riigikogu passed the War Graves Protection Act |work=Weekly Record, January 8-11, 2007 |date=2007-01-10 |accessdate=2007-07-24] , initiated by the Estonian Reform Party, Social Democratic Party, Res Publica Party and Isamaaliit Party. The preamble of the Act states: : "In observance and acknowledgement of the obligation of the Republic of Estonia to guarantee the protection, respect and dignified treatment of the remains of persons who have died in acts of war conducted on the territory of Estonia; finding that the burying of persons who have died in acts of war to unsuitable places is in discord with European culture and the tradition of honouring the memory and remains of the deceased; on the basis of Article 34 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol 1) adopted on 8 June 1977, according to which the Estonian state is obliged to guarantee the respect of the remains and gravesites of persons who have died due to acts of war in the territory of Estonia, and the marking thereof, and in pursuance of which the Estonian state is entitled to rebury the remains on the basis of the public interest, the Riigikogu passes this Act." [cite web |url=http://www.legaltext.ee/et/andmebaas/tekst.asp?loc=text&dok=XX10006&pg=1&tyyp=X&query=S%F5jahaudade+kaitse+seadus&ptyyp=RT&keel=en |title=Protection of War Graves Act |publisher=Estonian Ministry of Justice |year=2007 |month=January |accessdate=2007-07-24 (Official translation of the legal text)]

The Act came into force on January 20, 2007. [cite web |work=Elektrooniline Riigi Teataja |url=https://www.riigiteataja.ee/ert/act.jsp?id=12777064 |title=Sõjahaudade kaitse seadus |date=2007-01-20 |accessdate=2007-07-24 et icon]

Estonia has mutual war grave protection treaties with Finland and Germany but not with Russia, giving special status to many war graves in Estonia but not the one on Tõnismägi. The War Graves Protection Act's major result was to codify the international customs and practices regarding the handling of war graves (see above) into country-unspecific terms, and to extend unilateral protection to war graves not covered by mutual international protection treaties. Most 20th century battles on Estonian soil having been fought by Soviet (largely ethnically-Russian), German, Estonian armies and a formation of the Finnish volunteers under Estonian command, almost all war graves in Estonia not covered by mutual treaties or earlier domestic laws are those of the Red Army.

Another effect of the law was that it placed all war graves under the jurisdiction of the Estonian Ministry of Defence. Tõnismägi being city land, municipal cooperation would have been necessary for exhumation and/or monument removal without such legislation. [Kommersant: [http://www.kommersant.com/p720424/r_527/Bronze_Soldier/ Estonia Govt Fighting Bronze Soldier] ] [Postimees: [http://www.postimees.ee/290606/esileht/siseuudised/207552.php Ansip ei välista pronkssõduri saatuse otsustamist riigikogus] ] As non-citizen residents can vote in Estonian municipal elections and were largely in support of retaining the statue, the City Council of Tallinn has a large Russian representation and any approval was unlikely in the foreseeable future. The law eliminated the need to negotiate with the municipal government for war grave related business—specifically, exhumation of the buried bodies and, if the corpses would be found, relocation of the monument which would then be considered a grave marker.Or|date=September 2007

Proposed Law on Forbidden Structures

On February 15, 2007, Riigikogu approved the Law on Forbidden Structures by 46 votes to 44. This would have banned the public display of monuments that glorify the Soviet Union or Estonia's fifty years of Bolshevism. The monument itself was specifically mentioned, to be relocated within 30 days of the President signing this into law. However, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves vetoed the law, arguing that it did not comply with the constitution of Estonia (the only legal basis for a presidential veto under Estonian constitution). [cite news |first=Aivar |last=Pau |title=Ilves ei kuuluta keelatud rajatise seadust välja |url=http://www.epl.ee/artikkel/374457 |publisher=Eesti Päevaleht |date=2007-02-15 |accessdate=2007-07-24 et icon] A veto override was never attempted and this bill did not become law. [cite news |first=Kadri |last=Masing |title=President jättis keelatud rajatise kõrvaldamise seaduse välja kuulutamata |url=http://www.epl.ee/artikkel/375424 |publisher=Eesti Päevaleht |date=2007-02-22 |accessdate=2007-07-24 et icon] [cite news |author=Ravil Khair Al-Din |title=Президент не провозгласил закон |url=http://www.epl.ee/artikkel/375429 |publisher=Eesti Päevaleht |date=2007-02-22 |accessdate=2007-07-24 ru icon]

Public perception

The idea of relocation was controversial among inhabitants of Estonia. According to an opinion poll ordered by Eesti Päevaleht and performed by Turu-uuringute AS from 5 April through 22 April 2007 37% of respondents supported relocation of the monument, while 49% were against relocation and 14% had not formed any opinion on the subject. Relocation of the monument had slightly stronger support from native Estonian speakers—49% in favour of relocation—while only 9% of native Russian speakers supported relocation. [cite news |first=Urmet |last=Kook |url=http://www.epl.ee/artikkel/383323 |title=Eestlased teisaldaks pronkssõduri, venelased mitte |publisher=Eesti Päevaleht |date=2007-04-25 |accessdate=2007-07-24 et icon] [cite news |author=Ravil Khair Al-Din |url=http://www.epl.ee/artikkel/383376 |title=Эстонцы перенесли бы памятник, а русские нет |publisher=Eesti Päevaleht |date=2007-04-25 |accessdate=2007-07-24 ru icon] [cite news |first=Kristiina |last=Mõttus |url=http://www.postimees.ee/250407/esileht/siseuudised/tallinn/257074.php |title=Eestlased teisaldaks pronkssõduri, venelased mitte |publisher=Postimees |date=2007-04-25 |accessdate=2007-07-24 et icon]

According to a non-scientific poll by the daily newspaper "Postimees" on 25 April, when preparations for relocation had already begun, 85.12% of online readers taking part in the poll voiced their support for the relocation, 12.98% opposed it and the remaining were uncertain. [ [http://www.postimees.ee/online/gallup_arhiiv.php Link to daily polls by Postimees] ; the specific poll in question ("Kas pronkssõdur tuleks Tõnismäelt ära viia?") can be found by browsing to 25.04.2007 et icon]

Events surrounding relocation

Estonian Police cordoned off the square and nearby streets in the early morning of April 26, 2007, in preparation for archaeological excavations in search of the remains and, if found, their relocation. [ [http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2007/04/26/ap3657302.html Tear Gas Scatters Protesters in Estonia] — Associated Press]

A tent structure was erected to shield the excavations from weather and from public view."Kommersant": [http://www.kommersant.com/p762639/Estonia,_Bronze_Soldier,_Russia,_WWII/ Estonia Buries Relations with Russia] ] Three members of the protest organization "Night Watch" (also sometimes translated as Night Vigil) who were monitoring the situation declined to leave the area and locked themselves in their car. The police had to break a side window of the car to extract them forcibly, causing slight shard wounds to one. [ [http://www.epl.ee/artikkel/383529 Eesti Päevaleht: Politsei pidi Tõnismäel jõudu kasutama] ] [ [http://www.huliq.com/19787/estonian-authorities-start-removal-of-major-soviet-monument Estonian Authorities Start Removal of Major Soviet Monument] ] Having been removed, Night Watch spread rumours that the monument removal procedure had started. [HULIQ.com 2007-04-26: [http://www.huliq.com/19787/estonian-authorities-start-removal-of-major-soviet-monument Estonian Authorities Start Removal of Major Soviet Monument] ] After a few hours, around 1,000 people, mostly Russian-speaking, had surrounded the police cordon and some from the group attempted to break through it. [ [http://www.ap3.ee/Default.aspx?link=http://www.ap3.ee/Default2.aspx?ArticleID=460dde0d-0fb7-4e23-8309-3bdaa46380cd Photos of protests] et icon] Several meetings in protest of the removal were held. Around dusk, the mob turned more and more violent, starting to throw stones and empty bottles at the police. [ [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBeKUgFI13s Video of the protests and unrest] et icon] By around 21:15, the mob activity turned to what the police considered the first night's riot. [Postimees: [http://www.postimees.ee/270407/esileht/siseuudised/257511.php Märuli käigus sai üks inimene surma] ]

In the early morning of April 27, 2007, the Estonian government held an emergency meeting and at 3:40 a.m. local time, decided, upon advice from the Estonian Security Council, to relocate the monument immediately (as "the ground for violent acts"). Three hours later, by 6:40 a.m., the monument had been moved to an undisclosed provisional location. [ [http://www.sloleht.ee/index.aspx?id=226979 Pronkssõdur on Tallinna kesklinnast ära viidud] ] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6598269.stm Estonia removes Soviet memorial] , BBC, Friday, 27 April 2007, 06:31 GMT 07:31 UK] [ [http://www.delfi.ee/news/paevauudised/eesti/article.php?id=15706791 Delfi: märatsemine mõnitab sõdurivaprust] ]

The government stated that the statue would be re-erected as soon as possible in a military cemetery maintained by the Estonian Defence Forces. [ [http://www.valitsus.ee/brf/?id=282574 Government Communication Office Briefing Room - The war grave in central Tallinn] ] As of the afternoon of April 30 the statue without the stone structure had been re-erected. [ [http://www.epl.ee/pic.php?suurus=s&file=164643 Picture of statue in new place] ] Reassembling the stone structure was delayed out of concerns over the æsthetic qualities of the site on reopening, as the stone structure's weight required a new foundation to be constructed out of concrete. This work began on 23 May [http://www.postimees.ee/240507/esileht/siseuudised/262447.php Pronkssõduri juures algas müüriehitus] et icon] and was estimated to be completed by the end of June. [cite news |url=http://www.epl.ee/artikkel/384060 |title=Pronkssõdur on uues kohas! |publisher=Postimees |date=2007-04-30 |accessdate=2007-07-26 et icon] For the time of the construction work, the statue was temporarily moved to a nearby location on the cemetery.

An ecumenical religious ceremony (prayer for the dead) was held on April 28 before commencing the exhumation, by two chaplains, a Lutheran and an Orthodox. The Russian ambassador, having been invited to monitor the exhumation, or appoint an observer, officially declined the invitation. [ [http://rawstory.com/news/afp/Estonia_to_rehouse_Soviet_war_statu_04292007.html AFP: Estonia to re-house Soviet war statue by May 8th] ] [ [http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/breaking/2007/0429/breaking34.htm Ireland.com: Estonia to relocate Red Army statue] ]

Riots and violence

April 26 – April 27

Estonia's authorities report that the violence started around 21:20 (EEST, UTC+3), as the protesters started to assault the policemen. [http://www.epl.ee/artikkel/383641 Pronkssõdur viidi minema] et icon] [http://tuvasta.politsei.ee/0426_01.html — photos of protests and riots. The site asks people to identify any participants in riots and the looting that ensued.] Riot police responded by applying fire extinguisher (sometimes erroneously reported as tear gas) to the crowd, in attempt to indurse dispersion of the crowd. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6597497.stm Estonia seals off Soviet memorial] — BBC] However, the crowd did not disperse and started committing acts of vandalism and rampant looting [ [http://www.ap3.ee/Default2.aspx?ArticleID=9ba481cc-1937-4378-ae05-c2e2f13ea1d8 Photos of vandalised Pärnu road] et icon] [ [http://www.ap3.ee/Default2.aspx?ArticleID=cee655bf-1a75-4977-acb3-3b382899acf4 Photos of looting of a kiosk] et icon] of nearby shops and buildings. By midnight the riots had spread around the centre of Tallinn, with massive damage to property—a total number of 99 cases of vandalism, including cars that had been turned upside down, broken and looted shop windows, pillaged bars and kiosks. [ [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3178706576295653390 Video from the site] et icon] [ [http://video.postimees.ee/M4V01314rr.mpg another video (mpg) from the site] et icon]

By 2 am, things had calmed down a little; over 100 people had been arrested. [ [http://ap3.ee/Default2.aspx?ArticleID=e4d25146-ec27-4958-9d22-f262f942a307&ref=lastadd Pihl: arreteeritud on üle 100 inimese] et icon] At about half past two (AM), reports came in that mass riots had ended and now the police were only looking for fugitives. The last of the violent protesters were apparently taken away by a large passenger bus. [ [http://www.epl.ee/artikkel/383609 Politsei viib meeleavaldajaid bussidega minema] et icon] By morning 300 people had been arrested. 57 people were injured, including 14 police officers. Dmitry Ganin (permanent resident of Estonia who was holding Russian citizenship) died in a hospital from a stabbing wound. [http://www.postimees.ee/270407/esileht/siseuudised/257508.php Öine märul: üks surnu, 44 vigastatut, 99 lõhkumisjuhtu ja 300 kinnipeetut] et icon] Estonian press alleged that wounds were likely inflicted by a vandal. As per September 2007, 13 mostly Estonian-speaking persons had been arrested by Estonian police on suspicion of beating but not stabbing [ [http://www.postimees.ee/170707/esileht/siseuudised/viimased_sundmused/272755.php Kõik Ganini peksmises kahtlustatavad vabanesid] ] of Dmitri Ganin; all had been subsequently released pending end of investigation. As of September 4, 2007, no charges had been laid. [http://rus.delfi.ee/daily/estonia/article.php?id=16835652 Москва обеспокоена отсутствием результатов по делу Ганина] ] According to police report, goods stolen from some of the vandalised stores were found in pockets of Mr. Ganin. [ [http://www.epl.ee/artikkel/384177 Rahutustes pussitatud Dmitri rüüstas poode] ]

Tallinn City Council suspended all strong alcohol retail licenses inside the city borders for a week. [ [http://www.postimees.ee/270407/esileht/siseuudised/tallinn/257493.php Tallinna linnavalitsus keelas rahutuste tõttu alkoholi müügi] et icon] There were concerns, mostly in foreign media, that the protest may escalate into an ethnic conflict between Estonians and members of ethnic Russian minority. [ [http://www.yle.fi/uutiset/ulkomaat/id58908.html Tallinnan kiistelty patsas siirretty — mellakoissa yksi kuolonuhri ja kymmeniä loukkaantuneita] — YLE fi icon]
Kavkazcenter, a Chechen pro-independence [ [http://www.watchdog.cz/index.php?show=000000-000005-000001-000179-000051&lang=1 The Month in Brief - September 2007] ] [ [http://www.jamestown.org/publications_details.php?volume_id=416&issue_id=3767&article_id=2371188 BASAEV AND UMAROV STAR IN NEW VIDEOS] ] [ [http://egypt.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/53964/index.html Court issues mixed decision on pro-independence Chechen website] ] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3669624.stm Lithuania shuts Chechen rebel site] ] website, reported that FSB (the former KGB) created Russian armed resistance group in Estonia.Kavkaz Center: [http://www.kavkazcenter.com/eng/content/2007/04/29/8179.shtml FSB has created armed terrorist group in Estonia] ]

April 27

The night of April 27 saw a recurrence in violence, with a second night of rioting. Rioters used Molotov cocktails while police responded with CS gas, rubber bullets and watercannons. Rioting and looting in a few towns of North East Estonia (mainly Jõhvi) with a majority of Russian speaking population, were also reported. Estonian sources attributed the disruptions to youths consuming stolen alcohol. In all, some 1,000 people were detained in two nights of rioting. 156 were injured (including some two dozen police officers) and numerous stores, offices and homes were damaged. [ [http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2.html?NewsID=11404298&PageNum=0 More than 200 detained in Estonia] Itar TASS, April 29, 2007. Retrieved: 2007-04-29] As there had been too many arrests for the normal pre-trial detention centers, many suspects were taken to a hastily set up holding area in the "Terminal D" of the Tallinn Seaport. [http://www.vesti.ru/doc.html?id=118879&cid=1# Maxim Kiselev "Excesses of Estonian Special Police] Vesti 28 April 2007 ru icon ] [http://www.etv24.ee/index.php?0&popup=video&id=6848 "Aktuaalne kaamera (vene keeles)"] ETV24 28 April 2007 ru icon ]

April 28 – April 29

Calm was restored throughout the day and night of April 28 without further major incidents, [ [http://uk.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUKL2873034620070429 Reuters: Estonia calm after Red Army site riots] ] but police launched a campaign to take on "police assistance" volunteers, and by Sunday evening more than 700 persons had signed up and started training. [ [http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2.html?NewsID=11404298&PageNum=0 More than 200 detained in Estonia] Itar TASS, April 29 2007. Retrieved: 2007-04-29]

On April 28 a declaration by a self-named "Army of Russian Resistance Kolyvan" started circulating in Russian language Internet forums. The declaration called for "all Russian men living in Estonia" to take up arms. It demanded that Estonian citizenship be granted to all Estonian residents by May 3, threatening to start an armed resistance on May 9. [http://www.dpni.org/articles/lenta_novo/1291/ Заявление отряда Армии Русского Сопротивления "Колывань" (Эстония)] ru icon] At this time, it is not clear whether this group is the one described by the KavkazCenter report (see above) or is a copycat inspired by it.

April 30

No major incidents were reported, but some vehicle drivers tried to block the traffic in the center of Tallinn by intentionally driving at a slow speed and excessively using car horn. [http://www.postimees.ee/300407/esileht/siseuudised/tallinn/258007.php et icon]

"The Union of the Peoples of Estonia" ("Eestimaa Rahvuste Ühendus", an association of minority ethnicities living in Estonia) published a declaration that day, [http://www.epl.ee/artikkel/384005 et icon] condemning vandalism and maraudery.

A Russian State Duma delegation led by the former FSB Director Nikolay Kovalev also arrived in Estonia, in what was described as a "fact-finding mission". [ [http://www.interfax.ru/r/B/politics/2.html?id_issue=11725028 Российские парламентарии призвали эстонский парламент дать оценку деятельности правительства республики] Interfax, April 30 2007. Retrieved: 2007-04-30 ru icon] While still in Russia, the chairman of the delegation had already made a declaration, asking Estonia's government (led by Andrus Ansip) to step down. [http://www.postimees.ee/300407/esileht/siseuudised/257998.php et icon] Sven Mikser, leader of the of foreign affairs' commission of the "Riigikogu", who was one of the Estonian politicians to meet the Russian delegation, expressed his regret that the Russians had come with prejudices and had intervened in Estonia's internal affairs (e.g. by calling for Estonia's government to resign). [http://rus.postimees.ee/300407/glavnaja/estonija/15586.php ru icon] Later in the day, the reappearance of the bronze soldier threw the Duma's fact finding mission off-course, with delegation leader Kovalev saying that he had not been invited by the Estonian authorities to the ceremony at the military cemetery. [ [http://www.interfax.ru/r/B/politics/2.html?id_issue=11725028 Российские парламентарии призвали эстонский парламент дать оценку деятельности правительства республики] Interfax, April 30, 2007. Retrieved: 2007-04-30 ru icon]

There were some voices that called for cabinet resignation among the Estonian public as well. [e.g. [http://www.epl.ee/arvamus/383936 Juhan Kivirähk] et icon] The most aggressive criticism was made by members of the Center Party, who had been left out of the coalition talks during the then-recent elections. [ [http://www.postimees.ee/290407/esileht/siseuudised/257865.php Savisaar: vastuolud lähevad põranda alla] et icon]

May 1

The Russian State Duma delegation visited the new location of the statue, placed flowers and a wreath (a common symbol of remembrance of the dead in both Estonian and Northern Russian cultures) in front of the bronze soldier. The delegation members also closely examined the figure and claimed that it had been cut in pieces and reassembled. [ [http://www.postimees.ee/010507/esileht/siseuudised/viimased_sundmused/258115.php Riigiduuma esindajate hinnangul on pronkssõdurit tükkideks lõigatud] et icon] The Ministry of Defence denied those claims. "The lines on the statue are because of bronze casting technology and from the time the statue was created," said the press representative of Estonian Ministry of Defence. Those kind of statues are being made in several pieces and later assembled in one. [ [http://www.postimees.ee/010507/esileht/siseuudised/viimased_sundmused/258117.php Kaitseministeerium: pronkssõdurit pole tükeldatud ega vigastatud] et icon]

Estonia's Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that the European Union has promised to help end a siege at the Estonian embassy in Moscow. Paet had spoken to his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier who "promised speedy assistance from the European Union to normalise the situation around the Estonian embassy in Moscow." Germany then held the rotating presidency of the EU. [ [http://www.eubusiness.com/news_live/1178046001.82 EU promises to help end siege at Estonian mission in Moscow] AFP, May 1, 2007. Retrieved: 2007-05-01]

The two-day visit by the Russian fact finding delegation was originally set up to defuse a diplomatic dispute over the Bronze Soldier statue, but it only appeared to have escalated the feud. After the initial developments during the delegation's visit, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet cancelled a meeting with the delegation, issuing a statement saying: "I will not meet with a delegation that spreads only lies regarding events in Estonia and whose objective is not the accurate portrayal of the situation, but rather election campaigning". [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,,-6602044,00.html Estonia Cancels Russia Talks Over Statue] , by Jari Tanner, Associated Press, May 2, 2007. Retrieved: 2007-05-02.]

Epilogue

Tõnismägi hill (the former site of the monument and of the now-empty burial site) being city property, the government's position is that it is the responsibility of Tallinn municipal government to decide what to do next with it. [ [http://www.valitsus.ee/brf/index.php?id=282844&tpl=1007&external=&search=&aasta= Government Briefing Room - April 26 Press Meeting Transcript] et icon] On May 9, it was reported that, as agreed with the City Park Office, the Ministry of Defence was planting an enormous flower garden on the site, as a part of the post-exhumation restoration work mandated by the War Graves Act. [Postimees: [http://www.postimees.ee/090507/esileht/majandus/259542.php Esinduspeenar neelab miljoni] et icon] On June 8, 2007, the Ministry of Defence announced a plan to replace the flowerbed with a permanent park complete with small trees. [Postimees: [http://www.postimees.ee/080607/esileht/siseuudised/tallinn/265168.php Äsjasele pronkssõduri platsile tuleb lilleväljaku asemel püsiv haljasala] et icon]

Bodies transferred to the relatives

On June 14, 2007, successfully identified remains of captain Bryantsev were handed over to his relatives for reburial in Rostov oblast, Russia. [Postimees June 14, 2007: [http://www.postimees.ee/140607/esileht/siseuudised/266437.php Esimene Tõnismäelt leitud põrm anti omastele] et icon] This was the first of the twelve exhumed bodies to be returned to relatives.

As of July 3, 2007, three remains had been released to their relatives. Claims regarding a fourth, Master Sergeant Stepan Hapikalo, are pending arrival of his relatives, currently living in Ukraine, to Estonia for DNA analysis. The eight bodies so far unclaimed were reburied next to the new location of the monument on that day.

On July 4, 2007 remains of Yelena Varshavskaya were reburied at the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem in the world's oldest Jewish cemetery. The reburial was conducted by Russia's Chief Rabbi Berl Lazar. [RIA Novosti July 4, 2007: [http://en.rian.ru/world/20070704/68358856.html] ]

Reburial of unclaimed bodies

Eight of the exhumed remains—those unclaimed so far—were reburied at the military cemetery, next to the relocated monument, on July 3, 2007, in presence of the Estonian minister of defence, other officials, and dozens of diplomats, as well as various press representatives. A military attaché of the Russian embassy, Aleksandr Trojan, was reported as observing the event from the crowd. The Russian ambassador to Estonia, Nikolay Uspensky, declined invitation to attend, as an expression of Russia's highest-level disapproval of "demounting the monument, the exhumation, and the accompanying attempts to revise history to suit political conjuncture".Postimees July 3, 2007: [http://postimees.ee/030707/esileht/siseuudised/270131.php Ümbermatmisel osales Vene sõjaväeatašee] et icon] However, he attended a religious memorial service for the fallen, held by the head of the Estonian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate, three hours after the reburial. [ [http://www.postimees.ee/040707/esileht/siseuudised/270194.php Video: Vene saadik kalmistul pärga asetamas] Postimees 3 July 2007 et icon]

ee also

*Echoes of the Bronze Night
*Cyberattacks on Estonia 2007
*History of Estonia
*Baltic Russians
*Monument of Lihula, another controversial monument in Estonia
*Latvian Riflemen
*Kopli cemetery
*Kalamaja cemetery
*Estonian Nationalist Movement

References

External links

Photos and videos

* [http://www.360pano.eu/bronze_soldier/ QTVR fullscreen panoramas near Bronze Soldier Monument] (May 9 2005; May 9 2007)
* [http://sites-of-memory.de/main/tallinnsovietsoldier.html Photos of the site at sites-of-memory.de] (June, 2006)
* [http://tuvasta.politsei.ee/eng/ Pictures of looters on the homepage of the Estonian Police]
* [http://www.postimees.ee/galerii/index.php?picture=18715&cache=1&picoffset=16&galoffset=0&gallerydate=#pos Postimees newspaper pictures of riots]

Opponents of the relocation

* [http://www.bronze-soldier.com/ bronze-soldier.com]
* [http://www.9may.eu/ Protest against the removal of the monument] ru icon
* [http://www.esdtp.ee/inglise/statute.htm Declaration] of Estonian Left Party
* [http://www.pomnim.com/index_eng.htm Petition of the "night patrol"]
* [http://www.timely-thoughts.com Timely Thoughts, contains a public appeal against monument removal and independent Russian language editorials and commentary in English translation"]

upporters of the relocation

* [http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1852894 An article depicting the views of the monument opponents]
* [http://comment.independent.co.uk/leading_articles/article2496635.ece The Independent: 'Don't let Russia bully the Baltics']
* Shawn Macomber, [http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=11377 "Another Red Square Bites the Dust"] , "The American Spectator", May 2, 2007
* [http://www.pro-estonia.eu/?lang=en Polish Petition to José Manuel Durão Barroso]

Neutral views

* [http://www.topix.net/forum/world/T6VBCH6GMTN3CHVA9/ News about Estonian events on 26 April 2007 and comments from residents of Tallinn about what happened]
* [http://www.valitsus.ee/brf/failid/statement_red_army_memorial.pdf Common grave for and a memorial to Red Army soldiers on Tõnismägi, Tallinn (PDF file)] [http://www.valitsus.ee/brf/doc.php?282742 (Word file)] Scientific studies about the historical background of the monument, compiled into a "Historical statement", by Peeter Kaasik, for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, 2006. (Translation into English)
* [http://www.topix.net/content/ap/1767535101033464497837825136691955425348 Statue Symbolizes Grudges Against Russia] - Associated Press
* [http://www.valitsus.ee/?id=6656 Government compensates owners for damage caused by vandals] - Press release of the Government of Estonia
* [http://www.icds.ee/index.php?id=71&no_cache=1&L=1 Russia’s Involvement in the Tallinn Disturbances] - Analysis by Estonian "International Centre for Defence Studies"
* [http://web-static.vm.ee/static/failid/406/ER_16-17.pdf Estonian Review / Eesti Ringvaade, Volume 17 No 16-17 April 18 2007 – May 2 2007] (News bulletin of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Estonia) (ISSN 1023-1951)
* [http://www.en.rian.ru/trend/estland/ A full timeline of the Russian-Estonian row as reported by Russian news agency]

Diplomacy

* [http://www.baltictimes.com/news/articles/17865/ Lavrov letter slams EU over Estonia] (Unofficial translation of the [http://noguidinglight.blogspot.com/2007/05/lavrov-letter-in-full.html full text] into English)
* [http://www.epl.ee/artikkel/385394 Letter of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Germany and Finland about the shift of the statue] et icon


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