Riots in Estonian capital injure 66, causes much damage

Removal of 'Bronze Soldier' Soviet memorial infuriates Russian residents, starts widespread havoc; more than 500 arrested.

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April 28, 2007 12:28
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A second night of rioting and vandalism in the Estonian capital injured 66 people, including six policeman, following the government's decision to remove a Soviet war memorial revered by minority Russians. More than 500 people, many of them adolescents, were detained throughout the night as groups of vandals prowled the streets of downtown Tallinn breaking shop windows and looting stores, police spokeswoman Julia Garanza said Saturday. The trouble was sparked by the government's plan to remove a World War II statue - dubbed the Bronze Soldier - and exhume a number of Soviet soldiers buried next to it in downtown Tallinn. Estonia's Russians - less than one-third of the country's 1.3 million population - regard the monument as a shrine to Red Army soldiers who died fighting the Nazis, but ethnic Estonians consider it a painful reminder of hardships during a half-century of Soviet rule. In the first night of rioting, beginning Thursday, one person died and 56 were injured, including 12 police. The rioting was the worst seen since the Baltic state won independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and has raised concern throughout the European Union, of which Estonia has been a member since 2004. Authorities are urging people to maintain calm and order, and police have appealed to parents to keep a closer watch on their children.


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