Violent protests are spreading throughout Estonia following the removal of a Soviet War statue. Authorities relocated the monument to the outskirts of Tallinn early yesterday, claiming it was a public order problem as it attracted Estonian and Russian nationalists.
But the move seems to have made matters much worse. A man is reported to have been fatally stabbed during riots on Thursday night, with nearly a 100 people reported injured as police fought to keep Estonians and ethnic Russians apart. More than 600 demonstrators have been arrested. The removal of the statue has angered the Russian minority who see it as a monument to those who fought against the Nazis.
But many Estonians view it as a reminder of 50 years of Soviet occupation. Now riots have also erupted in two mainly ethnic Russian north-eastern cities, there are fears the fighting will escalate. Estonia has had troubled ties with Russia since gaining independence in 1991, so it is no surprise the row has become a political flashpoint. The Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament, has called for diplomatic relations to be cut.