President Karis: Banning vague war symbols might add to the confusion

President Alar Karis.
President Alar Karis. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

President Alar Karis said that while he does not understand those who are endorsing the war in Ukraine by using the letter Z or other symbols to that effect, rushing to ban vague symbolism might end up adding to the confusion.

A proposal to ban the symbols of Russia's military aggression [in Ukraine] has stirred passions in Estonia. Isamaa MPs have also proposed a Penal Code amendment. All of it should be reviewed before May 9. What are we going to do to keep society from splitting?

War propaganda is prohibited by law. Putin is waging a war of aggression in Ukraine, and I do not understand people who promote its symbols. If it is war propaganda, it will result in criminal responsibility. However, rushing to ban vague symbolism would create more confusion today. I am confident that the Estonian society is strong enough for truth to rise to the surface and isolated misunderstanding to fall to the bottom.

Without wishing to remind the Riigikogu of its duties, it seems to me that the parliament needs to prioritize national security and other topics with a long effects horizon, not least of which are the coalition's plan for a supplementary budget and additional defense spending. I wish the Riigikogu strength in tackling these matters.

What are we going to do with a Russian-speaking pensioner who will pin a Ribbon of Saint George on their jacket, grab some carnations and head to the Bronze Soldier monument come May?

That is a complicated question and one for which no simple solution exists. Which is precisely why I believe that if we tried to do something hurriedly and using vague phrasing, we would only be manufacturing more confusion. The important thing is to celebrate May 9 as Europe Day. Events dedicated to that day should dominate in Tallinn and elsewhere in Estonia.

Latvia's police chief said that everyone who go to the so-called victory monument in Riga will be treated as proponents of Russia's aggression. Shouldn't we also send people the signal that attending, for example, the [annual] Immortal Regiment gathering is not a good idea on the backdrop of the war in Ukraine?

I believe the Immortal Regiment will not be celebrating its event this year, while I cannot be entirely sure. It definitely wouldn't be a good idea. We have time until May to take precautions and institutions tasked with considering these aspects. I believe that we are healthy enough as a nation to be able to avoid incendiary incidents with the potential for harm. Estonia has institutions working to ensure order.


Follow ERR News on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an update!

Editor: Marcus Turovski

Hea lugeja, näeme et kasutate vanemat brauseri versiooni või vähelevinud brauserit.

Parema ja terviklikuma kasutajakogemuse tagamiseks soovitame alla laadida uusim versioon mõnest meie toetatud brauserist: