Estonia celebrates in style

  • 2008-02-25
  • Mike Collier in association with BNS

EYES RIGHT: Estonia's armed forces put on an impressive display for the crowds (Photo: Mike Collier)

PARNU -- An estimated 10,000 people, including many who hadtravelled specially from other parts of Estonia, gathered in Parnu on Feb 23 towatch a military parade celebrating the 90th anniversary of the proclamation ofthe Republic of Estonia.

No offenses were recorded that could be linked to the parade, Kaja Kukk,superintendent with the West Prefecture of the police, told BNS.

With Parnu's city center closed for traffic during the run-up to the paradeand while the parade was going on, only one vehicle had to be removed forviolation of parking restrictions.

"This shows that residents took the restrictions accompanying theparade with understanding," police spokesperson Kaja Kukk confirmed,adding that no arrests had been made in connection with the parade.

The parade, attended by President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Prime MinisterAndrus Ansip, started at noon with a presidential review of the armed forces.More than 1,000 armed forces personnel took part including detachments fromarmy, navy and air force, making it the largest single show of force everassembled by Estonia.

The infantry company of the Scouts Battalion took part in the parade on 13PASI armored personnel carriers. Also on display was a six-strong battery of155-mm howitzers of the Army's Artillery Group, a battery of 23-mmanti-aircraft guns of the Air Defense Division, a battery of 81-mm grenadelaunchers of the Kuperjanov Battalion and a battery of 120-mm grenade launchersof the Kaitseliit. The Viru Battalion sent an anti-tank company with two Mapatsanti-tank systems and four Milan anti-tank systems.

Meanwhile naval vessels were moored in the harbour and helicopters and NATOjets performed a crowd-pleasing flyover despite high winds.

The parade will serve as a significant morale-booster in thewake of news that two senior army officers are set to quit their jobs. Col.Urmas Roosimagi, chief of the Estonian Army's training center at Tapa,and Maj. Jaak Mee, chief of the operations department at the Army Staff, havefiled applications to quit, the daily Eesti Paevaleht reported on Feb 23.