TALLINN - Two of the four men accused of masterminding the Bronze Soldier riots in April have been released pending trial.
Dmitri Linter, 33, and Maksim Reva, 32, both leaders of the radical group Night Watch, were released Nov. 16 following a decision by the Harju County Court that neither man was likely to flee the country.
At the hearing in Tallinn both defendants argued for release based on their poor state of health, and Linter further said that while in detention he had no possibility to keep in touch with his wife and two small children.
Reva's lawyer also pointed out that his client lacked citizenship and as a holder of an alien's passport he could not even leave Estonia without a visa.
The decision was made despite requests by public prosecutor Laura Vaik that both Linter and Reva be kept in custody due to the danger that they will attempt to avoid trial. She said that both Linter and Reva have ties with Russia and that Linter's family is currently staying in that country.
Linter and Reva have repeatedly applied for release since their detention began in spring, while members of the Night Watch group have held public demonstrations demanding that the two men be released.
The other two defendants in the case, Dimitri Klenski and Mark Siryk, were present at the hearing to lend support for the counsel's petition for release.
Siryk, an 18-year-old student at the Pae Secondary School, was arrested along with Linter and Reva, but was released in mid-June when Vaik decided there was no longer a need to keep him behind bars. Siryk is a commissar in the pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi, which has been organizing anti-Estonian protest actions since Bronze Soldier monument's relocation in late April.
The fourth defendant, Dmitri Klenski, 61, a journalist and one-time member of the Tallinn City Council, was not taken into custody.
Julia Zhmarjova, a spokeswoman for the State Prosecutor's Office, told The Baltic Times that all four defendants would be tried together in a case that is expected to begin Jan. 14.
The Security Police last month concluded its pretrial investigation into the organization of the riots and the Prosecutor's Office sent the case to court on Oct. 18. All four men stand charged with organizing mass unrest.
Mass disturbances erupted in Tallinn and northeastern Estonia on April 26 after the Defense Ministry started preparations for the removal of the Bronze Soldier, a Soviet war memorial, from Tallinn's city center to a military cemetery.
Members of Estonia's Russian-speaking minority saw the move as an affront to the memory of Soviet soldiers who died fighting Nazi troops in Estonia. Many ethnic Estonians, however, view the monument as a bitter reminder of five decades of Soviet occupation.
During the violence nearly 1,200 people were temporarily detained and one young Russian man was stabbed to death.