Government Estonia decided “as soon as possible” to remove all Soviet monuments from public space. This decision was made at a government meeting on Thursday, July 4, Interfax reports.
“At a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers, we discussed in detail how to proceed with the removal of memorials with the symbols of the occupying power from public space. According to estimates, there are from 200 to 400 of them in Estonia. The main thing has been decided – red monuments must be removed from public space, and we will do it in as soon as possible,” the agency quoted Estonian Prime Minister Kai Kallas as saying at a press conference after the meeting.
Kallas specified that “the specific time and order depend on the readiness and logistics of local authorities” – since the monuments belong to them.
In Narva, they fear a repeat of the story with the “Bronze Soldier”
Kallas paid special attention to the monument to the T-34 tank in the city of Narva, which is located on the border with Russia and has more than 90% of the Russian-speaking population. The Estonian prime minister does not rule out that its dismantling may cause tension in society, as many local residents oppose it. Therefore, the government should “take responsibility” for carrying out this operation, Kallas said.
On Wednesday and on the night of Thursday, August 4, dozens of people were already seen around the monument. According to the police, while they behaved calmly.
Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said that “the tank must be removed within a month”, if necessary, convening an extraordinary meeting of parliament for this. He reminded of mass demonstrations of the Russian-speaking population of the country in 2007, when carrying the monument to the warrior-liberator of Tallinn from the Nazis “Bronze Soldier”. Then, as a result of the outbreak of riots one person died. According to Reinsalu, if the government allows the conflict over the T-34 tank in Narva to drag on, it could lead to similar consequences.
Estonia stopped issuing residence permits to Russian citizens
On July 28, the Estonian government by its decree banned the provision of temporary residence permits and study visas to citizens of the Russian Federation. Urmas Reinsalu explained these measures by the need to “ensure unrelenting pressure” on Russia in order to stop its aggression against Ukraine. “This will have a positive impact on our own security,” the head of the Estonian Foreign Ministry added.
In June Kaya Callas asked NATO to send to Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia divisions of between 20,000 and 25,000 alliance soldiers to defend against a hypothetical Russian invasion. Not long before this, the Russian ambassador was summoned to the Estonian Foreign Ministry due to Putin’s words about the “return” of Narva.