TALLINN - Justice Minister Rein Lang said that anti-government forces had intended to foment such unrest on May 9, celebrated by Russians as Victory Day, that the coalition would have toppled. Lang, speaking in an interview with the regional newspaper Sakala published on May 26, said that organizers most likely would not have tried to topple the government themselves but wanted to create such chaos on Tallinn streets that the ruling coalition would've been forced to step down.
"Just imagine that an armed mob fortified itself in downtown Tallinn for two or three days. People are not safe in the streets and a massive wave of looting sweeps through the city," Lang said.
According to the scenario, law-abiding citizens, faced with a rising wave of violence in the capital, would have taken security measures into their own hands, triggering a kind of civil war in the center of Tallinn, the justice minister said.
"A government in a democracy wouldn't hold out long in such a situation," Lang said.
The justice minister's candid revelations are the latest in an ongoing series of reports about the extent of the abyss that Estonian society teetered on in the last days of April and early May.
An article in The New York Times revealed some of the technical details behind the massive cyber attacks aimed at the Estonian government, political and private sector computers. The attacks, said the article, peaked on May 9 - 10. Hansabank has even incurred losses of up to $1 million.
Estonian prosecutors confirmed that they too had intelligence that large gatherings had been planned for May 9. However, a spokesman for the prosecutors' office stopped short of saying that the public gatherings had malignant intentions.
"It's not possible to tell what consequences their organizers had in mind," the spokesperson was quoted as saying.
Lang admitted that the ministry and other law enforcement agencies did not have a smoking gun and that details behind the alleged plot would remain a mystery.
"But I think that it is clear to every thinking person," he said. "If a delegation of the Russian State Duma announces in the airport that it is demanding the resignation of the Estonian government and continues such rhetoric upon arrival in Estonia, then to my mind there is no need to think further."
Lang said any plans to disrupt society were dealt an enormous setback after Estonian authorities arrested many of the chief instigators behind the April 26 - 27 riots in Tallinn, which left one dead, 140 injured and over 1,000 detained.
Lang, a member of the Reform Party, made headlines again after another interview in which he suggested the government may require people to use their ID cards to participate in chat rooms and commentary pages on the Web.
In order to stem the growing volume of slander and hateful commentary on websites, it might be necessary to require Estonian residents to use their ID cards before participating in forums, Lang told Postimees, Estonia's leading daily paper.
The minister said he didn't want the government to regulate the Internet, but concerns about abusing the Net and spreading lies and slander must be addressed. Current law in Estonia provides for revealing users in civil and criminal cases, but not necessarily with slander.
Lang said currently the Internet was so overloaded with suspicious material that no one government agency could handle the task of identifying particular users.