Police step in to stop Estonian-Russian clash

  • 2001-10-11
  • BNS
TALLINN - Forty teenagers from Estonia's Russian speaking minority armed with baseball bats and knives were arrested in the northeastern town of Johvi on Oct. 6, following reports that they planned to attack a group from the Estonian majority, the newspaper Postimees reported.

Tens of Russian-speaking youths gathered in a street to settle an argument with their ethnic Estonian peers, but a clash was averted after local and state police intervened, seizing an air pistol from one youth, the newspaper reported on Oct. 9.

"It's good we learned about this beforehand," said deputy regional police chief Vyacheslav Villo. "Fortunately there were no bad consequences to be dealt with."

Forty minors were taken to the town's police station where they were cautioned before being released, mostly into the hands of their parents. Police said most behaved calmly at the police station.

The entire staff of the station was called to work on the evening of Oct. 6 and additional forces from the national security police were brought in.

Regional police chief Aleks Uibo said the conflict appeared to have been sparked by an argument over a stolen bicycle which the Estonians had retrieved by force. "This was a matter between boys which, luckily, we were able to stop," said Uibo.

Police denied any link between the event and recent clashes in the Tallinn suburb of Oismae, which some see as ethnically based.

As in Tallinn, it was the Russian-speaking teenagers who geared up for a fight while no Estonians are thought to have appeared.