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Bronze Soldier safe and sound, why Russians keep rebelling?
May 3, 2007 16:36

Within the last several days the world divided into two parts: those who support decision of the Estonian government to move the Soviet Bronze Soldier monument to the military cemetery and the others standing against changes. Anyway, it is a political question covering complicated relationships with Russia and the attitude the natives demonstrate to the monument, which turned into the symbol of Soviet occupation for them. To clarify all that has happened one must take into account different opinions from both Russian and Estonian sides and analyze the story of the monument after collapse of the Soviet Union.

The Bronze Soldier is a monument to people who died trying to free the country from Fascist oppression. They had not the slightest idea of what regime the Soviet Union they fought for was going to establish in Estonia, thus, they must be honored. However, as soon as Estonia became an independent country, number of nationalist movements increased (as well as in Russia) and unfortunately, the Bronze Soldier was chosen a target of their hatred. During the past years it was several times painted and even threatened to be bombed. The majority of the population found it a mute reminder of Soviet days, but we shouldnt forget of the Russians who stayed in Estonia and war veterans, whose associations with the monument were absolutely opposite.

The Estonian government has repeatedly raised this question and finally decreed to move the monument to the military cemetery along with remains buried under it with their prior identification. This decision caused riots, scandals, negative statements made by Russian politicians and growing tension between the two countries. Could it be avoided? Perhaps the Estonian government firstly had to explain its decision to Russian people living inland, to assure them the monument will be safe and sound at the cemetery as well as the remains. Then, supposedly, citizens could see the point, as naturally that place wasnt suitable for a common grave. Perhaps the authorities had to settle another date for executing the decision, e.g. in June, not before upcoming Victory Day (9 May). Nevertheless, exactly this time was taken and the reaction was predictable. The intention of the government must have been good, but the process can be considered ill-organized and resembles a provocation aimed at proving the real nature of the Russians, including the authorities of the RF.

The reaction of some Russian politicians was, as a matter of fact, hysterical. This case probably required to be treated in cold blood, evading not evident accusations and rash allegations. Young people blocking the Estonian Embassy in Moscow pour oil on flames, they are members of the political movement supporting the government. Meanwhile, they could direct their energy at something more important, e.g. bringing to light the activity of the local authorities of the Moscow Region, who overlooked the outrage taking place not far from the capital, the demolition of a common grave similar to Tallinns and nothing would be done, but for some Russian independent mass media, which made all that happened public.

The monument to pilots was dismantled and the remains were taken out for broadening the Leningradskoye highway or, as an unofficial reason says, for building an aerospace researching centre including a hotel, restaurants, parking, supermarkets and other facilities, which implies big money invested into the project.

Its a shame that Russia cant take care of its past, of common graves that are inside of the country, but rises to the draw and forgets about staying composed in its attempt to support former citizens and defend its honour abroad.


Olga Pletneva


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