28.07.2022, Russland, St. Petersburg: Das amphibisches Militärflugzeug Beriev Be-200, fliegt im Rahmen einer Probe für die Marineparade zum Tage der Marine in Russland über einer Statue von Lenin am Himmel. Der Tag der Marine wird in Russland traditionell am letzten Sonntag im Juli begangen und findet in diesem Jahr am 31. Juli statt. Foto: Dmitri Lovetsky/AP/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

In Estonia, the government decided that all Soviet monuments in the Baltic EU and NATO country should be dismantled. “As symbols of repression and Soviet occupation, they have become a source of increasing social tensions – in these times we must minimize the risk to public order,” Prime Minister Kaja Kallas wrote on Twitter.

The Estonian government had already announced in early August that it intended to either dismantle or relocate all Soviet monuments. The timing and order therefore depended on the willingness and logistical planning of the cities and municipalities. According to the Prime Minister, there are about 200 to 400 Soviet monuments in Estonia.

A controversial tank monument near the Estonian-Russian border town of Narva in the east of the Baltic country has recently become the focus of public debate. Several dozen people had gathered there in early August after rumors circulated that the war relic, which stood on a high pedestal, would be removed.

“A tank is a murder weapon, it is not a memorial. And the same tanks are currently killing people on the streets of Ukraine,” Kallas said. There are also no war graves under the memorial.

The administration of the city, which has around 60,000 inhabitants and more than 90 percent of the population consists of ethnic Russians, had previously spoken out against relocating the Soviet tank. After the Prime Minister’s announcement, she now wants to seek talks with the government in Tallinn.

During World War II, Estonia was alternately occupied by the Soviet Union and Germany. After the end of the war, the Baltic state remained an involuntary part of the Soviet Union until 1991. To date, around a quarter of the population are ethnic Russians, who often also have family ties to Russia.