TALLINN - Prime Minister Andrus Ansip has emphasized the need to maintain public safety at the Bronze Soldier monument in Tallinn's Tonismagi Park, and that this was the police's responsibility.
"Order is maintained by the state and it does so mainly by relying on the police," Ansip said. Some proposed using a self-appointed group to maintain order in Tonismagi Park, but the PM said this solution was 'out of the question.'"First we give away a piece of the city center and perhaps then we will soon give away the whole center," he said.
An informal association called the "Night Guard" set itself up at the beginning of May to defend the Red Army monument. Since then, the group has been demanding that police leave their posts surrounding the monument. They declared on June 21 that, if necessary, they would call all residents of Estonia to defend the monument.
Ansip did not say how long security would remain at the monument. "Order is dear to us," he said.
At the end of May, Interior Minister Kalle Laanet banned all demonstrations at the monument and took other measures to pacify the situation around it. "The ban will be in force until the situation requires it," he said at the time.
Most ethnic Estonians see the Bronze Soldier stature, erected in 1949, as a sign of nearly half a century of Soviet occupation, while for many Russian-speakers it is a symbol of the Soviet victory over Nazism during World War II. They adorn the monument with flowers on Victory Day, May 9, and on Sept. 22, which they claim is the anniversary of the liberation of Tallinn from Nazi occupation. In the past couple of years, the laying of flowers has acquired an increasingly political flavor.
Prime Minister Andrus Ansip has said on numerous occasions that the monument should be removed from its present location to a less central place. And discussion is still continuing on the subject.