Estonia on Tuesday has removed a World War II memorial which stood firm in honour of the Red Army in Narva, a city inhabited by a large Russian-speaking minority, and blamed Moscow of using such monuments to stir up tensions.
Prime minister Kaja Kallas took it to Twitter, stating that, “My government has decided to remove Soviet monuments from public spaces around Estonia. As symbols of repressions and Soviet occupation, they have become a source of increasing social tensions, at these times, we must keep the risk to public order to maintain.
Local opposition to the removal of the monument, which depicted an old Red Army T-34 tank, had raised fears of a repeat of the riots that broke out in Tallinn in 2007 after the removal of another Soviet monument.
The World War II-era T-34 tank, which was part of the Narva memorial, will be transferred to the Estonian War Museum. In its place, the mass grave of war victims will receive a “neutral tombstone”.
Both Estonia and its Baltic neighbour Latvia have Russian-speaking minorities- 25% and 5.8% of the population respectively- that are sometimes at odds with national governments.
Some fear Moscow is looking to exploit these differences of opinion to destabilise these nations, which are both members of the European Union and NATO.