Eesti in brief - 2006-05-31

  • 2006-05-31
Interior Minister Kalle Laanet issued an indefinite ban May 26 on all rallies around Tallinn's Bronze Soldier statue to avoid further clashes. Those who violate the ban will be punished according to the law, Laanet said. "The ban will remain in effect for as long as the situation requires it," Laanet said, adding that imposing restrictions on the freedom of assembly was in conformity with the Constitution. He also indicated that the government would consider overruling the Tallinn City Council, which currently controls the land on which the monument sits. A 24-hour police presence has been installed around the monument, and a trolleybus stop has been relocated away from the site.

Despite an imposed ban, unrest over the Bronze Soldier statue continued on May 27, with several hundred people rallying near the statue at Tonismagi Park in Tallinn. Police were forced to remove the crowd to the nearby Freedom Square, after which several feuds began between Estonians and Russians. However, a police spokesman said the demonstrations were mostly peaceful. Eight people were arrested on misdemeanor charges, the spokesman said. Estonian President Arnold Ruutel and Prime Minister Andrus Ansip met to discuss the unrest. Ruutel said a commission should be established to decide how to resolve the explosive issue.

Experts believe an explosion at a wood processing plant last month was caused by the disintegration of varnish that had built up on the floor. The explosion at the Flexa Eesti furniture plant in northern Estonia injured seven people and caused damage worth an estimated one million kroons (63,900 euros). The head of the company's legal department, Tiiu Onga, said the explosion was caused by the spontaneous combustion of disintegrating nitrovarnish. Onga told the local media that an expert study failed to explain why the disintegration occurred. Fire and human error were ruled out as there was no one in the room.