PBLA slams Saeima over inaction on Estonia’s troubles

In a sharply worded open letter to Latvia’s parliament, the World Federation of Free Latvians has criticized legislators for not acting quickly to support Estonia in the face of verbal attacks from Russia over the controversial removal of a downtown Tallinn monument to World War II-era Soviet soldiers.

The federation is “deeply disappointed” in the Saeima’s “reluctance, delay and fear” in supporting Estonia, the letter states. The May 8 letter is signed by the board of the federation (known in Latvian as the Pasaules brīvo latviešu apvienība, or PBLA).

To save face, the Saeima should adopt a resolution of support for Estonia, the PBLA said.

The PBLA’s concern stems from Russia’s reaction to Estonia’s removal of the Bronze Soldier from Tallinn’s Freedom Square, as well as plans to relocate the remains of 14 Red Army soldiers from an area near the monument. Estonia’s Russian-speaking minority viewed the statue’s removal as an affront, leading to two days of unrest April 26-27 during which hundreds were arrested, dozens were injured and one man—a Russian citizen and permanent resident of Estonia—died. The Latvian embassy in Tallinn also was attacked.

Estonia has blamed Russia for fomenting the unrest, for cyberattacks on Estonian government Web sites that followed the unrest, for a siege by a youth organization of the Estonian embassy in Moscow and for what it says are distorted Russian media reports on the situation in Tallinn.

Estonia’s foreign minister, Urmas Paet, in a May 1 statement called on the European Union to defend Estonia’s interests.

“The issue of the Bronze Soldier and vandalism in Tallinn are Estonia’s internal matters but the coordinated activities undertaken against Estonia by Russia are a matter of the entire European Union,” Paet said in the statement.

Russia has had strong words of its own.

“We are all outraged by this sacrilege, blasphemy and the methods used to disperse the demonstrators who tried to defend the sacred object, put up in memory of Europe’s liberation,” Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said during an April 27 press conference in Norway, according to ministry’s Information and Press Department.

The PBLA criticized ruling Latvian coalition parties for failing to bring a resolution to the floor during the Saeima’s first meeting after the Tallinn riot. Opposition parties did propose a resolution, but it was defeated.

The PBLA wants the Saeima to adopt a resolution supporting the Estonian government and its sovereign decisions, condemning the vandalism and theft that occurred in the streets of Tallinn, condemning high Russian officials and members of parliament who have attempted to meddle in Estonia’s internal affairs, and condemning Russian authorities for their unwillingness to end the blockade of the Estonian embassy in Moscow and to guarantee the safety of embassy personnel in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

3 thoughts on “PBLA slams Saeima over inaction on Estonia’s troubles

  1. As a resident of Riga, I was highly satisfied with the government’s actions in this case. States should protest the actions of states. Although I disagree with the Russian government’s interpretation of the events, I don’t find it necessary to officially criticize them for the actions of an ethnic minority. If our goal is to integrate the Russian minority that we have in Latvia, then we need to not so quickly officially connect this minority in various countries to the Russian government. I think the government’s wisdom prevented similar destruction and chaos from happening in Riga.

  2. I am ashamed of the latvian parliament’s yellow bellied denial of their neighbors, more like betrayal of neighobors who have suffered the same fate as ourselves,but we are still afraid of the bully.
    Imagine the world’s reaction if Germany protested because the Dutch wanted to remove a statue from the time of the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam????
    So.. why cannot Estonians remove a Soviet statue???
    Please go to this site and VOTE!!!


  3. Davis Liepins is being naive ..” we need to not so quickly officially connect this minority… to the Russian govt.”
    We need to be brave and make a clear stand of unity as Baltic people in the face of outrageous action. Indeed why can a Soviet statue not be removed – (only to another place actually) – by seemingly free Estonian citizens?
    Inga Patterson has stated the situation succinctly – please show some support.

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