Eternal flame sparks ugly threat

  • 2005-05-04
  • Baltic News Service
TALLINN - The Estonian organization of Red Army veterans is planning to send an apology to Tallinn Mayor Tonis Palts due to the threatening demands by Vasili Borodin, a representative of the organization.

The daily SL Ohtuleht reported that at a meeting with Palts this week Borodin demanded that the mayor grant permission to light the eternal flame at a monument in a square in Tonismagi on May 9, threatening that Russia would cut off gas supplies to Estonia and stop trains if the mayor refused.

"We are not in favor of such sharp threats 's we are categorically against them," said Vladimir Metelitsa, chairman of the Tallinn war veterans association. He said no one had given any such task to Borodin.

Karl Velts, deputy chairman of the Red Army veterans' council, said Borodin's words during his meeting with Palts testimony to his personal emotions, and the Red Army veteran organizations were planning to write a letter of apology to the mayor.

Borodin claimed responsibility and said that he spoke for all veterans.

The monument, a bronze soldier, was erected in the Soviet period as a tribute to the Soviet "liberators" of Tallinn, and it has become traditional for Red Army veterans to lay flowers at the monument on May 9.

The eternal flame that burned in front of the monument was put out after Estonia reestablished its independence.

This week veterans met with representatives of the Rescue Board and showed them a gas burner they intended to use for their eternal flame.

Mayor Palts said that Borodin's demands ruled out any city concessions to the veterans, and added that lighting the eternal flame could hurt people's feelings.

"It is out of place to play with fire in Tonismagi both in the direct and the indirect sense," Palts said.