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Diplomatic battle rages on over Bronze Soldier

  • 2007-05-04
  • From wire reports
As clusters of police continue to patrol the streets of Tallinn maintaining the peace that was established after the April 26 - 27 riots, the intense battle between the governments of Russia and Estonia shows no similar sign of calm.

The only hint of a positive development in recent days came on May 3 when the pro-Kremlin youth groups, whose members had been blockading the Estonian embassy in Moscow, ended their seige, citing the reason that Estonian ambassador Marina Kaljulaid had left the country.

The Rossiya Molodaya (Young Russia) youth movement said the departure of the Estonian ambassador from Moscow was a "significant victory."

The ambassador said earlier that it was clear that the siege was organized, if not under Russian authorities' leadership, then at least with their tacit support. The Financial Times reported May 4 that the protest was cleared as the result of a request from Germany, who had assumed a mediator's role at Estonia's request.

Members of the youth group Nashi on May 2 broke into a press conference the ambassador was giving at a Russian radio network. Her bodyguards were forced to use pepper spray to keep the activists back.

The embassy siege, and the Russian government's refusal to provide adequate security for staff, drew strong protest from the EU, Nato the U.S. and individual European states, who have expressed support for Estonia's government in its row with Russia.

Cyber attacks on Estonian government websites, which the Foreign Ministry said originated from Russian government IP addresses, and reports that Russian embassy staff met organizers of the riots before they happened, have prompted Estonia's Foreign Minister, Urmas Paet, to appeal to the EU to put pressure on Moscow to back off.

The minister said on May 1 that the European Union was under attack, because Russia was attacking Estonia, and that he would present his proposals to the government regarding measures that Estonia believes the EU should take in regard to Russia.

The Bronze Soldier and the vandalism in Tallinn were Estonian domestic matters, but Russia's coordinated actions against Estonia are a European Union problem, Paet said in a statement.
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hus, he said, European Union-Russia relations have entered a very complicated situation.

"The attacks are virtual, psychological and real," he said.

Meanwhile Russia continues its own diplomatic offensive over the issue.

On May 3 BNS reported that Vasili Likhachev, member of the Russian Federation Council, at the assembly of the Interparliamentary Union on Bali, Indonesia, accused Estonia of revanchism and desecration of the memory of World War Two soldiers.

The Estonian parliament's press service said that the head of the Estonian delegation, Raivo Jarvi from the Reform Party, answered the accusations pointing out that all totalitarian regimes, both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, had equally been condemned in Estonia.
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he Russian Foreign Ministry also summoned ambassadors of Germany, Portugal and the EU to criticize the EU for what Russia describes as the EU's failure to react to removal of the Soviet Army monument by Estonia.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko expressed Russia's "deep bewilderment" to the ambassadors about what it termed the "lack of a principled assessment by the European Union of the actions of the Tallinn government."