by Joseph W
This is the Bronze Soldier of Tellinn:
The Bronze Soldier is a hugely controversial monument that celebrates Soviet presence in Estonia, which many Estonians consider to have been oppressive rather than liberating. The Estonian government decided to move the statue in 2007, which provoked Russian ire – more on that later.
According to the Times in 2007,
Officially, the government argues that it is simply moving the remains of Red Army soldiers buried in the busy square to a cemetery as an act of respect, and that the statue, as a memorial, is being moved too.
But it acknowledges that the monument has also become a focus of conflict between nationalists and pro-Russian groups. Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said recently: “Memorials should unite people. But this specific monument in this specific place divides society and I am convinced it should not be there.
The BBC reported on the removal of the statue in April 2007:
The monument was removed on Friday and taken to a secret location. Correspondents said a crowd of more than 1,000 demonstrators gathered on Friday evening where the monument used to stand. Some of the protesters threw petrol bombs, while others waved Russian flags and chanted “Russia, Russia, Russia”. Department stores and other shops in the city centre were looted.
There were also reports of rioting and looting in the towns of Johvi and Kohtla-Jarve, in a mainly ethnic Russian region east of Tallinn. AFP news agency said that in Johvi looters set fire to a statue of an Estonian general who fought the Russians during the country’s 1918 war of independence. By Saturday morning the situation in central Tallinn was described as calm, but the authorities are braced for more trouble.
Squads of police were seen moving around the area where the memorial used to stand. The decision to remove the Soviet monument has strained relations with Russia, which called it “blasphemous”.
Of the US diplomatic cables exposed by Wikileaks, there is only one cable mentioning the Bronze Soldier. In this we read:
Cyber attacks against Estonian websites began on April 27. They came in the wake of rioting in Tallinn triggered by the Government of Estonia’s (GOE) preparations for relocating the so called “Bronze Soldier”, a Soviet-era World War II monument (Refs A and B). The attacks initially targeted GOE websites including those of the Estonian President, Prime Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Ministry of Justice (MOJ), and Parliament, among others. According to XXXXXXXXXXXX the initial attacks were technically unsophisticated and “seemed more like a cyber riot than a cyber war.” However, all our Estonian interlocutors clearly recognized these attacks as political in nature. Russian-language internet chat forums held discussions exhorting people to attack Estonian sites and supplied downloadable software tools to carry out the attacks. According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, these initial attacks were limited to spam (a barrage of unsolicited emails) and cyber vandalism (e.g., Prime Minister Andrus Ansip’s photo was defaced on the Estonian Reform Party’s website) and appeared to be nothing more than a virtual mob reaction to the Bronze Soldier issue. Estonian media and press commentators were quick to accuse Moscow of being responsible, interpreting these attacks as part of Russian retribution for moving the Bronze Soldier (Ref C).
So, the cable appears to be about Russian cyber attacks, nothing about American involvement in moving of the Bronze Soldier. However, according to Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, Wikileaks’ representative Israel Shamir has another cable in his possession which proves US involvement in moving the Bronze Soldier statue.
Here is the Google Translate of the KP piece from two weeks ago:
Glad we once began exposing the site WikiLeaks. The only accredited with the controversial Russian-language website journalist Israel Shamir at the request of “KP” looked into as yet unpublished archives and read the telegram, which went to Washington from the American Embassy in Tallinn in April of 2007, when the Estonian government has uncovered a mass grave of soldiers killed in liberation of Tallinn, and to dismantle the monument to the Liberator Soldier. And that’s what he found.
[During the removal of the Bronze soldier], angry Russians besieged the Estonian embassy in Moscow. They pelted the embassy with eggs at night playing loud music. To enter or leave the embassy, Estonian diplomats were to ask police for help. The American ambassador in Moscow has asked the State Department to make a demarche to the Russian Ambassador in Washington. So began a dream come true Estonia – Russia oppose America and Europe. The United States, closely monitor the situation and willingly supported this game.
Removal of the Bronze Soldier is especially likely to elicit a volatile response from Moscow. Reform continues to be the driving force behind removing the Bronze Soldier. Reform interlocutors likened their actions regarding the statue in particular, and re-addressing the crimes committed under Communism in general, to “lancing a boil” – painful but necessary for the long-term health of the country. One prominent Reform leader told us off the record, “If it wasn’t (the statue) Moscow would find something else to criticize us for…that’s how the Russians are.”
Once again, no proof of American involvement in the removal of the statue, just commentary from Estonians about the situation.
This week, a journalist in the mainstream, popular, pro-Russian Estonian newspaper DZD writes:
I remember that shortly after the events of April 2007 my friend and I were sitting in a cafe and talked about how someone is advantageous transfer of the monument. I tried to convince his friend that the Bronze Soldier and civil peace in Estonia fell victim to the campaign reformers. Friend assured me that the main puppeteers here – the United States. I did not agree: there are many things America to the tiny country, even if this country – a bridge between Russia and the EU? We agreed on the fact that we learn the truth in a hundred years. Read – not in this life.
Thanks to Julian Assange and everyone involved in the release of truth came to light only after three years. Special thanks must be said colleagues from the newspaper “Komsomolskaya Pravda”: on request at an accredited WikiLeaks journalist Israel Shamir chose April dispatch, and “KP” put them in open access on its website. If leakage was not, dispatch would lose “secrecy” would ten years later, in 2017.
It is interesting that the DZD reporter commends only two individuals within Wikileaks: Shamir and Assange.
We know that Wikileaks has a way of presenting its stories to the wider world. That is why Julian Assange has worked alongside respectable publications such as the Guardian, the New York Times and Der Spiegel, arranging his material for public consumption. Assange appears to be Wikileaks’ face in the liberal, democratic, largely English-speaking West.
In the Russian-speaking world, it seems, this responsibility falls upon “Israel Shamir“, a neo-Nazi Holocaust denier who is packaging Wikileaks cables as proving that the USA is causing political unrest in Russia’s backyard. Inevitably, the Russian government will use these Wiki “facts” as propaganda in future rhetoric about Estonia.
So far, we have had odd stories concerning Israel Shamir relating to both Estonia and Belarus.
We have learned of previously-secret cables presented by Shamir which apparently blame the US for causing the Belarussian democratic opposition. We now learn of previously-secret cables presented by Shamir which apparently blame the US for inciting the Estonians against Russia.
Meanwhile, Assange’s casual language about “traitors” is causing political distress for brave people in Afghanistan, Algeria, Cuba and Zimbabwe who are opposed to tyranny. Doubtless, more people will be discredited, silenced or even imprisoned due to their perceived role in assisting the USA in the light of Wikileaks’ “revelations.”
Wikileaks is hardly revealing anything new. Almost all the criticisms contained within the cables of foreign regimes can be found already on the US State Department website.
In the meantime, some sections of the liberal left continue to see Wikileaks as opening governments and bringing us freedom, whilst their thoughtless actions continue to cause hazards across the world outside of the liberal democratic West.