A quiet anniversary for the Bronze riots

  • 2008-04-23
  • By Anton Dwyer,
TALLINN - This time last year the world looked on in amazement as the usually quite city of Tallinn became the focus of the worse rioting seen in the region in recent memory.
Residence say that one year after the riots people have calmed down and had time to reflect on what has been gained and lost from the incident. As The Baltic Times went to press the anniversary of the riots, on April 26, are expected to pass quietly.

Julia Schutting lives close to where the rioting took place.
"What I saw on that day wasn't nice of course. I am not worried. I hope that there is not a repeat. But I really don't think that is going to happen," she said.
She added, however, that there was bound to be some kind of memorial service.
"This year a lot of people will go to the cemetery. They used to go there every year," she said.
Residents believe it is important that people remember what happened.
"Of course it was shocking [to see the rioting]. You never expect something like that would happen in your home town," a local resident who did not wish to be named said.
Residents believe, looking back, that the riots had less to do with any real sentiment and were really an excuse for youngsters to cause trouble
"It was only youths who were there. The people to whom [the issue] was important were not there. There was alcohol and too much boozing, the people who were rioting did not actually know much about it. They don't care," the resident said.

"For older people it was very important. I saw people crying but they didn't go to the streets," she added.
Sentiment in the Estonian community is still strong. The City Council, for example, has banned the Russian community from holding a meeting in Hirvi Park, a location that has historical importance for ethnic Estonians.
"They can hold their meeting, but they can't hold it in Hirvi Park," a local resident said.
The Baltic Times spoke to a Russian youth who was actually involved in the rioting last year but did not wish to be named for obvious reasons.

"Last year we were so angry. It was not just those fascists moving the statue. It's everything that has been going on in this country for years ever since the Soviet Union broke up," he said.
He added that he did not plan to take part in any demonstrations this year.
"Thing's haven't improved 's if anything they have gotten worse. But I've got better things to do," he said.
The riots were brought on by the Estonian government decision to move a World War II memorial to the Red army from the center of the city to a military cemetery.

The Russian government claims that the Red army liberated Estonia from Nazi occupation, whereas most Estonians believe that the Soviets were the occupiers who unleashed a reign of terror on the Estonian people.
Relations between Russia and Estonia noticeably soured after the riots, which lasted for two nights and left much of central Tallinn in ruins.  Russian tourists stopped coming to Estonia, though recent report say that they have started to comeback. Estonian products disappeared from Russian stores.
Most interestingly of all, a wave of cyber, attacks were unleashed on Estonian language Web sites. The Estonian authorities claimed that the attacks originated from Russia.
Speaking recently in The Baltic Times Foreign Minister Urmas Paet expressed the hope that relations between the two countries were moving slowly toward normalization.