Estonian authorities removed a Soviet-era monuments including a T-34 tank after Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said Russia was using them to foment hostility in the Baltic country.
Kallas said Tuesday that Soviet monuments had been brought back into the public eye as a reminder of Russian aggression that “opened up old wounds” after the invasion of Ukraine.
The government’s push to remove hundreds of Soviet monuments cuts into the country’s cultural divide, with Russian speakers making up nearly a quarter of the population.
“We know that the Russian Federation and its security services want to foment tensions here in Estonia,” Kallas said. “Hostile forces have always used the monuments to spread disinformation.”
Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s chief spokesman called the plans to remove the World War II tank in the eastern Estonian city of Narva, which sits on the border with Russia, a “war against history.”
Nine people were detained Tuesday during the removal of seven Soviet monuments in Narva, including the tank, while the day otherwise passed largely peacefully, police spokeswoman Kristi Raidla said. Public broadcaster ERR reported that the people were arrested for displaying “war symbols” and making threats.
A similar row over the relocation of a Soviet monument in Tallinn in 2007 set off rioting and a cyber attack on Estonian government websites, with authorities blaming the Kremlin.