Russia’s relations with Estonia have taken a turn for the worse. The state parliament, the Duma, wants Moscow to take “decisive steps” if Tallin begins to dismantle a monument to the 50,000 Soviet soldiers who died fighting the Germans in World War II. Economic sanctions have not been ruled out. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was unequivocal.
“As far as we are concerned, this is akin to blasphemy,” he said. “We are convinced that it was dictated by motives that have nothing in common with the necessity to learn lessons from the past and build a unified Europe without any borders, and to be guided, while building that Europe, by the interests of the people living in it and by today’s interests.”
Tallin says the monument, dating from 1947, has become a focus for public discontent and demonstrations. For many Estonians it is a reminder of their loss of independence after the Russian occupation of 1940. The authorities say they want to move it to a more secure site.