The Estonian War Museum in Viimsi, just outside Tallinn, saw three times the number of visitors over the weekend. While Saturday was a national holiday in Estonia (Restoration of Independence Day), the larger-than-usual crowd, of over 1,000 visitors, was likely drawn by a Soviet-made tank which had previously been located in Narva, opening up for public display.
The museum's marketing manager, Sandra Niinepuu, told ERR that the crowd was: "More than three times larger than on a regular summer weekend," adding that while the bulk of the visitors appeared to be Russian-speaking, significant numbers of Finnish-speaking people had also visited the museum, some of them "even arriving by bus".
The weekend did, however, pass without incident, Niinepuu added.
She said: "People were polite and calm. Although people arrived in a somewhat defiant mood and we were greeted in Russian, the parting shots were already in Estonian," adding that few people attempted to clamber on the tank or any other exhibits; signage prohibits doing this.
"We forbade people climbing on to the tank for safety reasons, a the its cupola hatch is open and people could injure themselves entering that way. The public generally seem to sense what the appropriate way to behave in the museum is," she said.
Niinepuu added that no complaints had been received about having to pay for tickets to view the tank, now in a hangar at the museum after its removal last week from a location just outside Narva, where it had been situated for over half-a-century
The museum also distributed Estonian flags, she added.
The tank was removed last week following weeks of speculation about its future, in the light of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. While under Estonian law the removal would have been a matter for local government, an apparent impasse here prompted the state to step in and relocate the tank to the Viimsi museum. The plinth on which it stood was also dismantled.
The tank was found to have some fuel left, while an artificial red carnation, another Soviet symbol, was found inside once it was opened up.
Another T-34 is already on display at the museum, in the outdoor area.
The indoor hangar is only open to the public at weekends or via prior arrangement with the museum.
Editor: Andrew Whyte