Estonian police clashed with large groups of youths for a second night in Tallinn – after the removal of a World War 2 monument. One man has already been killed in some of the worst violence seen in Estonia – as protestors looted and vandalised.
Estonian President Toomas Hendrik-Ilves has deplored the riots. “What we’ve seen are crimes; brawling, looting and robbing,” he said. “This has nothing to do with the keeping of graves, or the memories of those who fell in the war, and nothing to do with nationality.”
Relations between Russia and the Baltic State have been tense since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The 2 metre tall bronze statue of a Red Army soldier was moved from the city centre on Thursday night – authorities saying it’s a public order problem, attracting Russian and Estonian nationalists.
Moscow says it will take serious steps and for Russian Senate President Sergei Mironov, the riots are the last resort. “I want President Putin to break off diplomatic relations,” said Mironov. “We’ve seen enough of this mocking the dead and scoffing at the victory in World War Two. It’s all gone too far.”
Severing diplomatic ties would be a bold move by President Putin – but as members of his youth party demonstrated outside the Estonian embassy in Moscow, he may now have food for thought.