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Russia's parliamentary speaker condemned Thursday the start of the exhumation and reburial of 13 fallen WWII Soviet soldiers in the Estonian capital as obscurantism
Russia's parliamentary speaker condemned Thursday the start of the exhumation and reburial of 13 fallen WWII Soviet soldiers in the Estonian capital as obscurantism. Estonia started work Thursday to relocate the soldiers buried by the Bronze Soldier statue in central Tallinn to a military cemetery on the outskirts of the capital in a move that could further strain relations with Moscow, which has accused the Baltic state of encouraging Nazism and discrimination against ethnic Russians. "If the Nazis could not cope with living [soldiers], the Estonian government is trying to cope with dead ones," said Boris Gryzlov, chairman of the State Duma, parliament's lower house. The Moscow mayor joined the criticism of the action, calling it "wild vandalism" and an attempt to rewrite history unacceptable for a civilized state. "They are humiliating the remains of those who ousted Nazis from Estonian soil," Yury Luzhkov said. "They are actually justifying Nazism." Police cordoned off the area around the memorial in the run up to May 9 VE Day. The six-foot statue, which could also be dismantled and relocated, has become a rallying point for ethnic Russians. Following clashes with Estonian nationalists near the statues the authorities called for the Bronze Statue and other monuments "dividing society" to be removed. Estonia's prime minister said earlier Thursday the work, being done under a Defense Ministry recommendation in mid-March, could last two weeks to four months. Andrus Ansip also said the central square was not a proper burial place. "We cannot talk of respect for wartime graves, when people stage rallies, wave flags and consume alcohol there," the premier said, adding the Soviet soldiers would be laid to rest a military cemetery on the outskirts of Tallinn. Kosachev also said the Russian government could consider economic measures against the Baltic state, echoing an earlier debate on energy sanctions against the ex-Soviet republic. "There is no need to impose official sanctions, but ... Russian authorities' action will be very effective and will have an extremely painful effect on the Estonian economy," the lawmaker said, adding the removal of the statue would only deepen the split in Estonian society. But the Estonian premier earlier dismissed the threats, citing growing tourist flows from Russia and booming trade. Kosachev said Moscow could refer the case to the European Union, the Organization for Security and Organization in Europe, and NATO. Moscow already initiated a resolution to condemn plans by the EU member to remove the memorial at the Council of Europe earlier April. The Russian delegation in Strasbourg also insisted the European body address the recent closure by Polish authorities of a Russian exhibition at Poland's Auschwitz death camp memorial, and Hungarian radicals' plans to remove a Soviet WWII memorial from central Budapest. The governor of the Russian enclave region in the Baltics has meanwhile suggested moving the Bronze Soldier to Kaliningrad.
Print Russia's parliamentary speaker condemned Thursday the start of the exhumation and reburial of 13 fallen WWII Soviet soldiers in the Estonian capital as obscurantism Bookmark Russia's parliamentary speaker condemned Thursday the start of the exhumation and reburial of 13 fallen WWII Soviet soldiers in the Estonian capital as obscurantism

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