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Home >> World
UPDATED: 09:24, May 10, 2007
Russian ambassador to Estonia lays flowers at disputed statute
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Russian ambassador to Estonia Nikolai Uspensky on Wednesday laid flowers at a disputed Soviet- era statute for celebration of the end of the Second World War.

"May 9 is our celebration, it's a holiday celebrated in Russia, and I myself feel huge satisfaction that our holiday, May 9, is remembered in Estonia," Uspensky said after a solemn remembrance before the Bronze Soldier statute at its new location.

The relocation of the statute from downtown Tallinn to a remote military cemetery triggered violent protests from ethnic Russians in the Baltic country nearly two weeks ago, making this year's celebration sensitive.

During the two nights of rioting in Tallinn late April, one person was killed, 153 people were injured and some 800 people detained.

Protesters denounced the government's relocation decision as an insult to war heroes, but some Estonians viewed the statute as a symbol of Soviet repression.

Uspensky refused to attend Tuesday's events organized by the Estonian government, including wreath-laying before the Bronze Soldier, when the relations between Russia and Estonia soured due to the removal of the statute.

A spokesman from the Russian embassy in Estonia said on Monday that they had a program of its own for May 9 every year and the program would be observed this year too.

Estonia usually remembered the end of the Second World War on May 8, and Russia on May 9.

Though Russian officials seemed to be keeping a low profile, Uspensky's visit to the statute attracted unusual media coverage. Surrounded by journalists, photographers and cameramen, Uspensky was driven to make some comments.

In a short statement, Uspensky said the two countries' relationship is going through "stormy times", while reiterating Moscow's objections to the relocation of both the statute and a nearby war grave containing 12 Soviet Red Army soldiers.

"If we are to speak bluntly they (Estonia) have desecrated the graves," Uspensky said, "of course we look upon this negatively, and it creates the lowest of feelings."

Without specifying any country, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Wednesday that desecrating war monuments harms relations between countries.

Those who "are desecrating monuments to war heroes, and in doing that are insulting their own people and sowing enmity and a new distrust between nations and people," Putin said at an annual commemoration of the victory in the Second World War.

Russian authorities also announced on Wednesday to limit traffic across a bridge on the main highway linking Russia with Estonia, citing bad conditions of the bridge. Trucks with capacity over 3.5 tons had to make a detour.

Some Russian officials had warned Estonia of economic consequences, but others rejected the idea of economic sanctions.

Source: Xinhua

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