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Message of Kornelius Mitropolitan of Tallinn and all Estonia

May 4, 2007, 08:53
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Statement to the Media About the Events of April 26–29, 2007

The Estonian government, ignoring the position of the city authorities based on the opinion of the members of the roundtable on the “Bronze Soldier” issue, and disregarding the statements and opinion of many other local and foreign political and societal activists and organizations and, moreover, contrary to common sense, just before the celebrations dedicated to the victory over Nazism, began the process of transferring the monument to Soviet soldiers who perished during the Second World War. The process started on April 26, 2007 in Tallinn.

The matter itself is not in the fact of the actual re-interment of the remains but in the attitude towards history and duty. For many years this place was sacred for all those, who understood that Nazism was fatal for the humanity. It was sacred for all those, who honored the memory of the fighters who sacrificed their lives so that all of us now could live in a free society (it’s well known that in every family there were killed, disabled, or missing people after the war).

What was the reason for transferring the monument that was not glorifying the punitive troops or institutions of repression? It is intolerable to be lenient towards distorted stereotypes which interpret the monument as the symbol of occupation.

The monument symbolized those fighters who sacrificed their lives to save ours; there was no purpose to subjugate Estonia and other liberated countries by a Communist dictatorship in the end as some politicians try to interpret it. By imposing on society the point of view that this monument is dedicated to the occupiers, they essentially are guided by the stereotype of the Soviet ideology according to which the army and the Communist Party are indivisible.

However, there was no such a unity. People of different nationalities, religions and beliefs fought together in the Soviet Army. Some soldiers were saddened by the Communist ideology, but others were not. Many suffered under Soviet power and had no warm feelings towards it.

It is not a secret that some fought bravely and others besmirched the honor of the armed forces. The monument, however, was dedicated to the soldiers of different nationalities and beliefs who were selflessly fighting united by one single desire – to free their own and other peoples from Nazism.

The “Bronze Soldier” was a symbol of honor and dignity for all those who revere the memory of fallen heroes.

And therefore it is quite natural that people protested against the attempt to exile the monument to the cemetery.

It is much worse that those who supported a rightful cause, could not control themselves and allowed their low passions to prevail; they gave in to the provocation and behaved unworthily towards the memory of the perished worriers by acting in the favor of those who unleash ethnic hatred. It is bad that the innocent had to suffer.

The Estonian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchy is praying for the politicians and ordinary people to make common sense prevail over emotions with the God’s support after all these events. The Church also prays for peaceful life of people of different ethnic backgrounds in our country.

+ Ê Î R N E L I U S



The Bronze Soldier (Estonian: Pronkssõdur), originally Monument to the Liberators of Tallinn, sometimes called the Tõnismäe Monument, was a Soviet World War II war memorial designed in the socialistic realist style and located in central Tallinn, Estonia. The memorial was erected by the city of Tallinn and unveiled on September 22, 1947, on the third anniversary of Red Army re-entering Tallinn in 1944.

The monument consisted of a mastaba-like stonewall structure of dolomite and a two meter (6.5ft) bronze statue of a soldier in a Soviet uniform. It was located on Tõnismägi (literally: "St. Anthony's hill") above a small mass grave of reburied Soviet soldiers' remains, created in April 1945. The statue had significant symbolic value to Estonia's community of mostly ethnic Russian post-World War II immigrants; not only symbolizing Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War, but also their claim to rights in Estonia.

Amid political controversy, in April 2007 the Estonian government started preparations for the relocation of the statue. Although the general intention had been public since the winter, no specific timeline was released in advance. Disagreement over the appropriateness of the action led to mass protests and two nights of the worst rioting Estonia has seen. In the early hours of the first night's rioting, the Estonian government decided at an emergency meeting to dismantle the monument immediately. By the afternoon of April 27, 2007 the stone structure had been dismantled. As of the afternoon of April 30 the statue without the mastaba had been placed at the Estonian Defense Forces Military Cemetery in Tallinn. An opening ceremony for the relocated monument is planned for May 8, VE-Day. (Significantly, Red Army veterans celebrate Victory Day a day later, on May 9.) Reassembling the mastaba and reburial of the remains of the war victims found in the graves under the monument are expected to be completed by end of June. (from Wikipedia)

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