Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2007-05-09-Speech-3-030"

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"Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, allow me first of all to reply, in the hope that, since I am speaking on behalf of my group, I shall not be given significantly less time than the previous speaker. Today we are discussing relations between Estonia and Russia and, in talking about these, we must definitely discuss the events that took place at the end of April in Estonia. Nor can we ignore the cause of these events – the Bronze Soldier. This statue was erected by the Soviet authorities in honour of the liberators of Tallinn. The liberation of Tallinn actually consisted of the bombing of Tallinn on 9 March 1944, when 40% of Tallinn’s residential areas was destroyed and hundreds of people died. This was referred to as liberation, but Estonians were deported to Siberia, with one wave of deportations following another and no family left untouched by the repression. My father was deported to Siberia in 1941 and only returned home 21 years later. After Stalin’s death my great-grandmother, who had also been deported to Siberia, set out alone and on foot for her home country of Estonia. When my family came home from work one day, they found her sitting on the steps of our house, but unfortunately my great-grandmother was already dead. I can still remember that time. As a monument erected to a liberator, the Bronze Soldier was a symbol of very painful experiences for many Estonians. Nevertheless, it stood in the central square of our capital city for another 15 years, that is to say for the 15 years after Estonia regained its independence. What was it that happened on 26 April? What happened that night? The monument crisis actually began about a year ago, when a gathering of extremists waving Soviet flags transformed this monument from one that honoured the dead into a symbol of the victory of the Soviet occupation, and as such it became a continual source of tension. Up to that time, veterans had gathered there every year, and despite the fact that alcohol was sometimes consumed on the grave and that those present even at times danced on the grave, the police never intervened. On the night of 26 April, however, riots broke out in the downtown area, and these later spread to some border cities where, however, they were less severe. The rioters destroyed everything that stood in their path including cars and bus pavilions, but mainly windows. Bands of youths broke into shops and stole everything. Off-licences, in particular, were targeted, but also some other shops. For example, Armani and Hugo Boss shops, as well as jewellery stores, were looted. Since we live in a media age, all of this was recorded and also broadcast live on television. Today there is a great deal of video material documenting the events. The police only intervened when the gangs of youths became too aggressive. Truncheons and water cannons were used; firearms were not. That night, the Bronze Soldier was transported from Tõnismäe to the military graveyard, where it was yesterday made accessible to the public again. After that, the attacks from Russia began – the propaganda offensives mentioned by the previous speakers, culminating in the Russian Duma’s demand for a change of government in Estonia. I will stop now. Please accept my apologies, Mr President. Finally, I would like to thank all who have supported, and who continue to support, Estonia. This is a great honour for us and a great help to us. Thank you, Mr President, and please accept my apologies."@en1
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"(The speech was interrupted)"1

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