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Russia hopes that an Estonian court will make an impartial decision in a lawsuit filed by relatives of Soviet soldiers buried in Tallinn
Russia hopes that an Estonian court will make an impartial decision in a lawsuit filed by relatives of Soviet soldiers buried in Tallinn, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said Friday. Estonia's commission on wartime burials recommended March 13 removing the World War II Bronze Soldier statue, which is part of a Soviet-era memorial, from central Tallinn to a "quieter" military cemetery, in accordance with a new law passed in January. "The Estonian Defense Ministry has recently sent to the City Hall in Tallinn a notice that it would soon start the exhumation of soldiers graves, located near the monument," Mikhail Kamynin said in a statement. Close relatives of the buried soldiers were outraged by the move and filed Wednesday a lawsuit with the municipal court in Tallinn against the Estonian Defense Ministry. "We hope that an independent court will be impartial when considering the lawsuit," Kamynin said adding that "Russia appeals to the Estonian authorities to observe at least elemental norms of humanity and morals." The Russian Embassy in Estonia said Wednesday in a statement that it would be representing the interests of claimants in court. "Estonian authorities' plans to dig up the remains of soldiers and officers buried on Tynismyagi, have been repeatedly criticized by authoritative international public organizations, as well as by veterans from anti-Hitler coalition countries," the statement said. The six-foot Bronze Soldier and other Soviet memorials have recently become rallying points for ethnic Russians, and clashes with Estonian nationalists near the bronze monument prompted the authorities to press for monuments "dividing society" to be removed. Russia has accused Estonia of encouraging Nazism and discrimination against ethnic Russians, and even prompted debate on possible energy sanctions against Estonia. Moscow has also called for international organizations to step in. Some 50,000 Soviet troops perished in Estonia in 1944 fighting against Nazi Germany. The Soviets regained control of the republic, which many Estonians call occupation. The bodies of the soldiers killed in action are buried at 450 cemeteries and memorials across the Baltic country.
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