The Estonian Foreign Ministry has protested the removal of the memorial to victims of Soviet repression at the Knyaz-Vladimirskoye cemetery in Vladimir, Russia, and has asked for the return of a plaque honoring Estonian Gen. Laidoner, an influential figure in Estonian politics between the two world wars.
"Yes, Estonia has issued a statement regretting the removal of the Laidoner monument and requesting that the plaque be returned to Estonia, as it is no longer suited for the cemetery in Vladimir. We also want assistance locating Gen. Laidoner's remains and returning them to Estonia," the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs told ERR's Russian language portal.
The removal of Soviet memorials from Estonian public space and the removal of the monument in Russia is not comparable, the ministry added, "because the plaque in the cemetery dedicated to Laidoner was not a symbol of invasion and totalitarianism. Estonia has never occupied Russia, exiled or oppressed its citizens," the ministry said.
ERR Radio News reported on Monday citing foreign media that one of the memorial plaques on the demolished monument was dedicated to the Estonian general and statesman, longtime commander-in-chief of Estonian Armed Forces during the 1918–1920 Estonian War of Independence, Johan Laidoner, who was removed from his position as the commander‑in‑chief on June 22 1940, after the Soviet Union occupied Estonia. A month later he and his wife were deported to Russia, where he was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He died in Vladimir Central Prison in 1953 and was buried at the prison cemetery.
Lithuanian Foreign Ministry summoned charge d'affaires of the Russian embassy in Lithuania Alexander Elkin on Tuesday and handed a note of protest against the demolition of the memorial and demanded to clarify the circumstances of the vandalism in Vladimir, bring those responsible to justice, and restore the memorial plaque bearing the name of Lithuanian clergyman, politician and diplomat Mečislovas Reinys.
Reinys was imprisoned by the Soviets in Vladimir Central Prison where he died the same year as Laidoner.
Editor: Jevgenia Zõbina, Kristina Kersa