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Russia Accuses Estonian Police Of 'Atrocities'

Boris Gryzlov (file photo) (CTK) May 10, 2007 -- Russian State Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov has accused Estonian police of committing "atrocities" during protests sparked by the relocation of a Soviet-era war memorial.

Gryzlov said a State Duma delegation that visited Estonia in the wake of the April unrest has established "mass human rights violations."

The removal of the "Bronze Soldier" from a central location in the Estonian capital, Tallinn, sparked riots that left one Russian national dead and more than 150 people injured.

But Estonia's Justice Minister, Rein Lang, today said his country opened 66 criminal cases against demonstrators.

New Traffic Restrictions

Earlier today, Russian federal authorities imposed tight traffic restrictions on a major trade route between the two countries.

Valentin Sidorin, a spokesman for the Leningrad region bordering Estonia, said the road bridge linking the two countries was unsafe and needed serious repairs.

For Estonia's ethnic Russians, who make up some 25 percent of the population, the statue of the Soviet warrior and the 13 Red Army graves beneath it were a symbol of the Soviet Union's huge wartime sacrifice to help liberate Europe from Nazi Germany.

But to many Estonians the monument was a constant reminder of Soviet occupation, not liberation.

(Reuters, AP, Interfax, ITAR-TASS)

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