Estonia to relocate Red Army statue


Estonia is to set up a Red Army monument in a military cemetery in time for the anniversary of the end of World War Two after its removal from the centre of the capital sparked riots, officials said today.

The government decided to move the monument to avoid demonstrations linked to the anniversary on May 9, but had not originally planned to re-site it until the end of May.

But after the protests which erupted on Thursday, in which one man died, the government moved fast on Friday to remove the monument.

May 9 marks victory in Europe over Nazi Germany and sometimes provokes tensions between Russian-speakers and ethnic Estonians.

Russia called moving the monument, a 2-metre (6-1/2 ft) high bronze statue of a Red Army soldier, an insult to those who fought fascism.

Many Russian-speakers, about 300,000 out of 1.3 million people, view the statue with fondness, while ethnic Estonians see it as a reminder of 50 years of Soviet rule.

Around 1,000 people were detained in the violence, mainly by Russian-speaking youths, though only 46 remain in custody.

No protests over the removal of the monument came on Saturday in the capital, Tallinn, though some clashes occurred in mainly Russian-speaking northeast Estonia.