Russian lawmakers criticize Estonia for planned removal of Red Army statue

Russian lawmakers on Wednesday sharply criticized Estonia for possible plans to remove a statue that honors Red Army soldiers who helped drive Nazi forces from the Baltic nation.

The State Duma voted 407-0 to pass a resolution, titled "On The Demonstration of Neo-Nazi and Revanchist Mood in Estonia" the latest in a line of angry statements from Russian government officials.

"This act ... continues the course of heroizing Nazism and the justification for its ideology," the resolution said.

The statement called on President Vladimir Putin and the government to reconsider bilateral cooperation with Estonia, an ex-Soviet republic that is now member of the European Union and NATO

Last week, the Estonian president signed into law a bill allowing for the removal from the capital, Tallinn, of the 1947 statue a monument that upsets many in a country that suffered five decades of Soviet occupation.

The law also enables the removal of several other Soviet-era monuments in the nation of 1.3 million, which has a sizable Russian-speaking minority, reports AP.

Russia's foreign minister on Tuesday called the decision "blasphemous."

Like Latvia and Lithuania, Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940, but was briefly taken over by Nazi Germany the following year. Red Army troops, seeing themselves as liberators, recaptured Estonia in 1944. It regained independence in 1991, after the Soviet collapse.

The monument has also been an irritant between Estonia and Moscow, which routinely accuses Estonia and Latvia of discriminating against their Russian-speaking communities.

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