воскресенье, 11 января 2009 г.

BRONZE SOLDIER DEFENDERS UNDER TRIAL FOR POLITICAL REASONS


An Estonian district court has pronounced an acquittal on the defenders of the Bronze Soldier memorial for unsubstantiated evidence. The court found nothing criminal in the activities of leaders and activists of a public movement who defended the Red Army Memorial in Tallinn in April 2007.

The court ruled to lift a written undertaking not to leave from Dmitry Linter, Maxim Reva, Dimitry Klensky and Mark Siryk and compensate them for the losses suffered in connection with the arrest. The prosecution failed to prove their involvement in inciting mass disorders in April 2007.

In April 2007 the Estonian authorities dismantled the memorial and relocated the remains of the Soviet soldiers from Tonismagi Hill to the Tallinn military cemetery. The Russian-speaking population saw the move as an abuse of the memory of those fallen in struggle against the Nazis. In the ensuing mass protests about 1200 people were detained and one Russian, Dmitry Ganin, died. Protests followed from countries across the globe, included the European Union, of which Estonia is a member.


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Tallinn attempted to shift responsibility for the incident on members of “Night Watch”, a public movement which since May 2006 had been defending the Red Army Memorial against any instances of government or media-encouraged vandalism. Leaders of “Night Watch” were thus incriminated with inciting public disobedience, organizing illegal protests, fuelling up inter-ethnic hatred and instigating mass disorders.

The trial, which began in January 2008, was politically motivated, set on justifying the pro-Nazi moods in the Estonian leadership. Viacheslav Nikonov is the President of the “Politika” Foundation:

The Estonian authorities view those who fought with the Nazis in the Second World War as the national liberation forces, he says, and for this reason they banned all Soviet insignia and dismantled the Bronze Soldier. And they expressed no opposition to the march of SS veterans in a consistent effort to rehabilitate fascism.

These hopes were doomed to failure. Maxim Reva, one of the acquitted, comments:

We knew we would be acquitted the moment they started to pronounce the verdict, he says. To my satisfaction the judge explained that we had been acquitted for unsubstantiated evidence provided by the Estonian prosecution and special services. The whole case was politically motivated right from the very start. I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard the acquittal sentence. There appeared a flicker of hope that our country had good judges and independent judicial system.

That the Estonian court refused to blindly follow government orders is an encouraging sign of enlightenment within the Estonian society.

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