Yeltsin Monument Proposed in Tallinn (5)

Boris Yeltsin, Russia's first president Photo: Reuters/Scanpix
2/1/2012 11:31 AM
Category: Culture

Thirty-nine prominent figures have backed the idea of a monument to Boris Yeltsin in Tallinn, which would honor the late Russian president for his role in Estonia's bloodless restoration of independence.

Yeltsin, who would have been 81 today, was instrumental during the failed putsch of August 1991 and the days that followed in recognizing Estonia's independence, even if the years that followed often featured sharp rhetoric from the Russian government on topics such as non-citizens.

Although no post-Soviet Russian president has visited Estonia, Yeltsin traveled to Tallinn at a crucial moment in January 1991, likely helping to avert a bloodbath similar to the ones in Latvia and Lithuania.

"We believe that Estonian society is mature enough to recognize Yeltsin's extraordinary contribution to the process of Estonia's bloodless return to independence," reads the statement from the ad hoc non-profit organization, Memorial Initiative, which includes many business leaders, former dissidents and figures from all parties.

"A monument to be installed by civic initiative is the greatest tribute that Estonian citizens can posthumously pay to the president of a neighboring country who, while controversial, played such an important role in our liberation."

The organizers said the process of erecting a monument will take place through volunteer donations, in cooperation with Estonian authorities Russia's Yeltsin Fund, founded by Yeltsin's family.

Memorial Initiative announced plans to form a working group and hold a public competition to find the monument a suitable location, with government departments, Tallinn city government, architect and artist unions participating.

Kristopher Rikken

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