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Ilves suggests yet another monument

  • 2007-08-24
  • By TBT staff and wire reports

ONWARD & UPWARD: New freedom monument could be joined by a memorial to victims to communism (Photo courtesy Estonian Ministry of Defense)

TALLINN 's Estonia could have yet another monument to debate in addition to the Bronze Soldier and the Freedom Monument, after President Toomas Hendrik Ilves called for the construction of a new monument to victims of communism.

Speaking Aug. 23 at a meeting to mark the 20th anniversary of a key pro-independence demonstration in Tallinn, Ilves said: "The events of recent years have convinced me that Estonia, just like the other European countries which suffered from crimes against humanity, needs a memorial to the victims," Ilves said.

He cited recent research which indicated that 'crimes against humanity' affected nearly two thirds of Estonians, eithe directly or indirectly.

"If so big a share of our citizens has suffered under communism, we cannot let it simply to be forgotten, we mustn't allow it to be downplayed," the head of state said.

In what sounded suspiciously like a sideswipe at Russian policy in the wake of this year's Bronze Soldier demonstrations, Ilves expressed regret that right until the present day there is evidence of attempts to "whitewash" what Estonians and other nations living under communism had to live through.

"I wouldn't be upset so much if the ones who downplay it were neutral bystanders," Ilves said. "But why is it that former members of the CPSU [Communist Party of the Soviet Union], including senior members of the party, are permanently justifying or downplaying the sufferings that befell others because of communists?"

But even as Ilves was speaking, Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) President Rene van der Linden was criticizing Estonia's handling of the relocation of the Bronze Soldier.

"I regret very much it happened in this way as this demonstrates disrespect of Russia's role in World War II," van der Linden told the Russia Today TV channel. "I'm sure there is finally a solution suitable for both parts. I'll visit the Baltic States in the second part of September. No doubt this case will be part of my discussions with these countries. And I will also give attention to the position of Russian minorities."

Also Aug. 23, details of another proposed Tallinn monument were released. The recently-announced winner of a competition to design an Estonian Freedom Monument was revealed as the work of a team of two mechanical engineers and two architects, Eesti Ekspress reported.

According to the weekly, the authors of the work, entitled 'Libertas' are mechanical engineers Rainer Sternfeld and Andri Laidre and architects Kadri Kiho and Anto Savi.

The winning design, which has been criticized by some commentators for having 'totalitarian' elements, represents the Cross of Liberty at the top of a 28-meter column. It will need to attract substantial public support to avoid the fates of previous projects which never made it further than the drawing-board.