Defense Minister Mart Laar fended off accusations of nazi glorification raised in a human rights report published by the Russian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday.
The report asserted that the Estonian Ministry of Defense is labeling World War II soldiers who fought in German uniform - in the ranks of the Waffen-SS, a multi-national force made up of volunteers - as Estonian freedom fighters, reported ETV.
On Tuesday, Delfi reported that the Defense Ministry is planning this spring to present Parliament with a bill that would recognize World War II fighters against Soviet troops as Estonian freedom fighters.
Critics say this is a bad time to annoy Russia, but Laar countered that the bill aims to define the whole contingent of those who have held armed struggle for the nation's independence and that there is no intent to specifically honor those who fought in the Waffen-SS, with such assertions being malevolent.
"Estonia has condemned both fascism and communism and we firmly follow that credo. The bill is in the early stages of the legislative process, and it is too early to give a judgment on it. Someone has brought the initiative to light in an unfair manner and that is certainly not good for Estonia," said Laar.
Both of the former parties that now make up the conservative IRL tried to pass the same law in 2005, but Parliament rejected it. In 2006, the bill was re-submitted, but Andrus Ansip's governing coalition with the Centre Party and the People's Union again turned it away.
The judgment of the former justice minister, Rein Lang, had been: "The Ministry of Justice finds that passing the draft legislation, in its present form, would, with a high likelihood, provoke anger between the members of Estonian society who fought on opposing sides of the war.”
This time around, however, it is much more probable for the bill to get an OK, as it was stipulated as a condition of the government's coalition agreement.