Three Russian Journalists Report Problems Accessing Weekend World War II Memorial Event
This year's commemoration of the bloody and ultimately futile battles in the northeast to stave off re-occupation by the Soviets in 1944 passed without incident. Several Russian journalists who intended to cover the 70th anniversary event on Saturday said they were denied entry to Estonia or access to the site, however.
The Police and Border Guard told rus.err.ee that two men with tourist visas arrived but said their purpose for travelling to Estonia was to work, and the press cards did not match their employer. The Zvezda TV channel said the men were its journalists, but the press cards were in Ukrainian.
Also, a reporter from Komsomolskaya Pravda who was already in the country, Galina Sapozhnikova, said she was not allowed to the scene of the event. In that case, police said they had issued a parking citation to a journalist - apparently, it was Sapozhnikova. No further information was available.
The July commemoration of the Sinimäed battles has long been a sore spot in Estonian-Russian relations. Estonians fought the Soviets in Nazi German-organized units, since the Estonians' own military structures were dismantled in 1940 after the communist takeover. The criticism from Russia was most vocal back when the event was primarily a veterans' reunion, but increasingly few are still alive. A similar event in Latvia remains contentious as well.
Estonia defused one problem last year by renaming an annual military competition held at the same time. It had been named after a top-secret special force that had originally been organized by the Germans, called Erna.
The battles in Sinimäed (Tannenberg Line) raged from July 25 to August 12, 1994, with Estonian military losses alone reaching 2,500. There were also extensive civilian deaths.