Conscripts arriving at Tallinn barracks told to wear civilian clothes May 9

Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) conscripts arriving at a Tallinn barracks Sunday were instructed to do so wearing civilian attire. The facility is located adjacent to the military cemetery, where ceremonies of remembrance marking Soviet victory day were taking place.

Lt. Col. Averkin, commander of the staff and communications battalion at the EDF's General Staff, said, via a press release Monday, that: "The backdrop to the decision was a desire to deprive propaganda channels of the opportunity to take the movement of EDF personnel in the vicinity out of context, and place it in a one that portrays us maliciously or in some other way."

The General Staff say that no incidents in the area on that particular day had been recorded in recent years, which was demonstration that the measures in place were ample.

May 9 is victory day in the Russian Federation, with many from Estonia's Russian-speaking community marking it as such within Estonia.

In Tallinn, solemnities are centered on the "Bronze Soldier" statue, which has been located in the military cemetery on Filtri tee since 2007.

Members of the public attended the days events, which were organized with coronavirus restrictions in mind.

Isamaa MP and former foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu had handed over a communique to Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) on behalf of his party, inquiring about media reports Monday that EDF conscripts had been required to don civilian clothing instead of their military attire.

"Is it true that this was introduced? And what is meant by the interpretation of the 'malicious use' of the uniform of the EDF?" the text read, according to ERR's online news in Estonian.

Lt. Col. Averkin reiterated in the press release that the move had been a conscious decision not to give propaganda or misinformation opportunities which could portray the EDF in a negative light. While most conscripts were arriving at the Filtri tee barracks on May 10, those arriving a day earlier were instructed to do so wearing civilian clothing, he said.

The General Staff says it regularly assesses how the land lies both in the physical environment and in the information sphere and tailors its activities and measures accordingly, in order to minimize unnecessary risk and ensure continuous combat capabilities.

ERR was unable to obtain comment from chief of the EDF, Lt. Gen. Martin Herem.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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