Orthodox church drops request to hold a service on May 9
The Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (MPEÕK), after failing to secure a permit for a remembrance service at the Defense Forces Cemetery, which is home to the Bronze Soldier monument, on May 9 has decided to hold the service on another date.
"It is true that the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate has signaled they want to hold the religious service on a date other than May 9," Britta Sepp, press representative for the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) told ERR on Friday.
MPEÕK requested clarification from the Police and Border Guard Board regarding whether a memorial service may be conducted on May 9 at the Defense Forces Cemetery in Tallinn.
"In previous years, it was customary for the Metropolitan of Tallinn and All Estonia (or Bishop Sergi of Maardu acting in his place) to conduct a memorial service at the Tallinn Defense Forces Cemetery on May 9. The ceremony took place in the chapel that was formerly an Orthodox church. During the service prayers were read for the fallen in the battles of World War II. We would like to hold this service again this year. Should permission and registration be sought?" MPEK's interim secretary, Marina Kasparovitch, addressed a letter to PPA.
The Police and Border Guard Board responded that only in-chapel religious services are permitted. Roger Kumm, the head of the Ida-Harju police station, said, "We ask that you refrain from holding a service in front of the chapel, as the cemetery is a public space where public gatherings are prohibited."
"If a religious or other public gathering takes place in a cemetery, the security authority may need to intervene to determine if it is a prohibited public meeting. This activity can disrupt the religious service, which is why we ask that it take place in the chapel," Kumm explained.
Prior to May 9, PPA prohibited gatherings with a risk of incitement to hatred
PPA announced on Wednesday that it prohibits the organization of public gatherings in Harju, Lääne-Viru and Ida-Viru counties from May 5 to May 9 if there is reason to believe that the gathering will incite hostility by displaying symbols of the aggressor state.
Kumm said that about 200 incidents involving the use of symbols supporting the aggressor state were registered on May 9 of last year.
"The symbols currently worn by Russian soldiers committing war crimes have no place in a free Estonia as the courts have repeatedly ruled in the past year," he said.
The police prohibited public gatherings with a high likelihood of using hostile symbols on May 9 and the preceding days, as they could lead to serious offenses and conflicts.
"This means that there must be no processions, gatherings or speeches that advocate war and support the Putin regime's war crimes in Ukraine with symbols, words and deeds," Kumm explained.
On May 9, Russia celebrates its victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, which has become the foundation of its aggressive ideology. The holiday is also extensively observed in former Soviet republics and countries with sizable Russian populations. During the celebrations, it is common to see Russian tricolor, Soviet flags and the ribbon of Saint George, a Russian military symbol that also appears in Kremlin propaganda.
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Editor: Mait Ots, Marcus Turovski, Kristina Kersa