Bronze Night anniversary passes peacefully — PPA

Police. Source: Government Office

The 15th anniversary of riots caused by the removal of a Soviet-era statue from central Tallinn, known as the Bronze Night, passed mostly peacefully, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) said on Wednesday. The agency also stressed May 9 will not be celebrated as usual this year.

"The anniversary of Bronze Night passed relatively peacefully across Estonia and there were no more incidents after what happened in Tõnismäe," Northern Prefect Joosep Kaasik told ERR on Wednesday.

On the anniversary on April 26, the Police initiated misdemeanor proceedings against several people who visited Tõnismäe, the former location of the statue, and tried to mark the event. But no disturbances were reported across the rest of the country,

The police increased its presence in the area on Tuesday evening and an ERR journalist on the scene at around 8 p.m. saw at least five police vehicles and a foot patrol.

Kaasik said this was to ensure public order and to prevent conflicts from escalating.

"The only thing that should have been remembered at Tõnismäe yesterday was the attack on the Estonian state and police 15 years ago. The police does not forbid commemorating the dead, but it must be done in the right place and without provocation," he said.

The Bronze Soldier monument after renovation. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) marked the anniversary with a post on social media outlining how Estonia and the world had learned from the incident.

While riots took place in Tallinn on the night in 2007, cyberattacks were also launched against the whole country, the first time this had happened anywhere in the world.

"It was a wake-up call for many on how malicious actors can misuse cyberspace," she wrote. "Today, Estonia is a cybersecurity heavyweight. Third globally and first in Europe."

The Bronze Night riots and cyberattacks were sparked by the removal of the Soviet Monument to the Fallen in the Second World War from Tõnismäe, Central Tallinn to the Tallinn Military Cemetery.  

May 9 will be different this year

Procession towards the 'Bronze Soldier monument in Tallinn, on May 9, 2019, the last pre-pandemic Victory Day. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Kaasik also said celebrations for Russia's anniversary of the end of the Second World War on May 9 will not be held as usual.

The PPA will monitor social media and traffic to ensure no pro-war or pro-Putin convoys are not organized, which have taken place in other countries such as Germany.

"We are ready for possible provocations and we will certainly react to violations," he said.

"Commemoration of the dead is not forbidden on May 9. People can bring flowers to the cemetery and bow their heads. Provocation is not allowed, including war symbols, hostile speeches and other similar things. This year the commemoration must be different and going forward."

Police to extend hate speech public meeting ban across Estonia

The PPA said on Wednesday that public meetings which incite hatred and use aggressive symbols, supporting Russia's war in Ukraine, will be banned across the country until May 10.

In Estonia, public meetings must be registered with the PPA before they are held.

"In order to prevent provocations and ensure the safety of all residents, these requests will not be approved by the police, and meetings with hostile symbols will be banned throughout Estonia," said Lieutenant Colonel Andrus Reimaa of the Southern Prefecture.

He said public meeting requests have been submitted in recent days where hostility may occur or the aggressive symbols.

Reimaa said remembering the victims of the Second World War is not banned but it cannot be done in a way that incites violence and hatred between people.

"The victims can also be commemorated on May 9 this year by bringing a flower and a candle to the cemetery, not waving ribbons and flags which the aggressor [Russia] uses to justify the war in Ukraine," he emphasized.

The public meeting ban is in place until May 10 and will be extended if necessary. Hostile symbols, such as Soviet Union flags, orange and black St. George's ribbons and USSR uniforms are banned from public spaces.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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