Embassy evacuation after protests over Estonian statue

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Embassy evacuation after protests over Estonian statue

Embassy evacuation after protests over Estonian statue
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Anger over the removal of a Red army monument in Estonia has crossed borders. In Moscow, pro-Kremlin youth activists broke into a hall, where the Estonian ambassador was to give a press conference.

A second group blocked the entrance to the Estonian embassy. The ambassador’s car was reportedly attacked.

But the protesters called for an apology.

“We have been picketting the Estonian Embassy for five days,” the leader of the pro-Kremlin youth group, Vasily Yakemenko, said. “We want the Ambassador to come to speak with us and ask forgiveness for the words of the Prime Minister. He described the soldiers buried under the monument as “marauders” and “drunkards”. Our demands are very reasonable,” he said.

Consular services at the Embassy have been suspended. Diplomats’ families have been evacuated.

The Ambassador criticised the Russian authorities for failing to ensure adequate protection for diplomats and staff.

“We are consulting with our partners in the European Union about what measures the EU will take, but I can tell you that the EU will take concrete measures in terms of relations with Russia,” Ambassador Marina Kaljurand said.

The European Commission has expressed concern and says the EU will formally raise the matter with Russia.

The activists have been protesting since last week.

Estonia moved the Red Army statue to a cemetery, saying it was the focus of trouble between minority Russians and local nationalists.

But Moscow said the move was an insult to the memory of those who fought against facism.

Talinn denies it was being provocative.