May 9 crowds in Tallinn around a third of those of previous years
The number of people publicly marking May 9 in Estonia, 'Victory Day' in the Russian Federation, by attending a well-known Tallinn war memorial and laying wreaths, was a third of last year's figure, at 11,000, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) reports.
While Victory Day gatherings in 2020 and 2021 were subject to coronavirus restrictions, this year the backdrop of Russia's war on Ukraine made the event particularly subject to scrutiny; recent legislation barred the wearing of symbols which could be interpreted as glorifying Russian militarism, and the PPA says it had spent several months in preparatory work for the day.
The focal point of the day's events in the capital remains the "Bronze Soldier", a monument commemorating the fallen on the Soviet side in World War Two.
Roger Kumm, head of the operational headquarters at the PPA's Northern Prefecture, said that: "The number of people to the bronze soldier today was 11,000. This is one third the figure of previous years."
Preemptive planning by the PPA included that where: "In co-operation with the Internal Security Police (ISS), we also paid attention to foreign nationals endangering Estonia's security, and deported one leader of the Immortal Route before May 9. In addition, we restricted traffic on Filtri tee, and we worked with local government," Kumm continued, via a PPA press release.
The PPA also set aside officers called "Dialoogi Politsei" ("Dialogue Police") specifically for May 9.
As reported by ERR News, 50 people were apprehended by the PPA, not only in Tallinn and Harju County but also in Ida-Viru County, mostly in respect of wearing insignia deemed inflammatory under the recent legislation and in the light of events since February 24.
While these incidents included the wearing of the black-orange Ribbon of St. George – and refusal to remove it when asked to – as well as flying the flag of the Soviet Union and inciting members of the public attending gatherings to do so wearing Red Army-style uniforms, some other incidents related to more creative activity, ERR reports.
In one instance, at the "Bronze Soldier" statue, the PPA confiscated a Soviet railwayman's-style hat, worn by a child who was accompanied by their mother.
Also in Tallinn, an individual riding a scooter decked with LED lights in the red-white-blue of the Russian Federation flag found themselves subject to proceedings under the prohibited insignia legislation; the lights also fell foul of traffic regulations, ERR reports.
Overall, the day's events passed off peaceably and amicably, the PPA reports.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte