A statue, celebrating Russia’s war dead in the Estonian capital Tallin, is at the centre of a huge row between the two countries following last night’s violence in the city, which left one person dead and dozens injured.
It has now gone – cut up into pieces, according to some Russian media. But the Estonian authorities insist it is intact will be relocated to a military cemetary.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union and Estonian independence there has been tension with Moscow. For many the Russians were occupiers, and the Red Army did not free the country from the Nazis, it imposed a communist dictatorship.
The large Russian-speaking minority and Russia itself protested against the relocation, saying it was an insult to those who fought fascism.
The Estonian police seemed to be overwhelmed last night, faced with a task they had little experience of. After clearing the square where the statue stood to prevent it being attacked, they were powerless to prevent protestors, most of whom were young, from going on the rampage in the city centre. Around 300 arrests were made.
The initial crowd of a few hundred swelled to over one thousand before the police dispersed them. The authorities say it is only the statue’s prominent city-centre location that is in dispute, and its removal was supposed to prevent it becoming a focal point for controversy.