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U.S. Senate backs Estonia, rebukes Russia over war memorial protests

The U.S. Senate adopted a resolution Friday by a simple majority supporting Estonia and denouncing attacks against its embassies in Russia and elsewhere.
WASHINGTON, D.C/MOSCOW. May 4 (RIA Novosti) - The U.S. Senate adopted a resolution Friday by a simple majority supporting Estonia and denouncing attacks against its embassies in Russia and elsewhere.

Describing the relationship between Estonia and the old Soviet Union as a cruel and illegitimate occupation that violated Estonia's sovereignty and right to self-determination, the Senate supported Estonia as a member of NATO and the OSCE in resolving issues it regards as its internal affairs.

The resolution, introduced by Joseph Biden, Jr. (D - DE) and Joseph I. Lieberman (ID - CT), highlights the fact that despite Estonia's willingness to cooperate in the relocation of a WWII monument and the remains of fallen Red Army soldiers from the center of Estonian capital, Tallinn, to a military cemetery, Russian officials had refused.

It further denounced violence, vandalism and looting in the Estonian capital, as well as attacks against Estonia's diplomatic offices elsewhere.

The resolution also called upon all countries to help Estonia investigate hacker attacks against its Web sites, which Estonian officials said came from Russia, and asked all signatories to the 1961 Vienna Convention on the rights and immunity of diplomats to honor their commitments.

Honoring the memory of those who perished in WWII, the Senate said all attempts to exploit their memory should be strongly denounced.

The Senate also supported Estonia's efforts to establish a dialogue with other free and sovereign states.

Protests in Tallinn sparked by the relocation of the monument, mostly by ethnic Russians, left one Russian, Dmitry Ganin, dead and hundreds under arrest.

Moscow said the protests were "a natural reaction" and accused Estonian police of human rights violations against Russian-speakers, many of whom have been denied Estonian citizenship since Estonia won its independence from the Soviet Union.

The Estonian Embassy in Moscow has been under siege by pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi since last week. The protesters tore down a flag from the embassy building and mobbed Ambassador Marina Kaljurand Wednesday as she was about to speak at a news conference.

She later left Russia, officially on holiday. Five protesters have reportedly been detained in the Russian capital.

Earlier Friday, Nashi also disrupted a panel discussion with the Estonian consul general in Russia's second-largest city, St. Petersburg.

Russia has protested Estonian actions involving the monument, and linked them to broader policies it says are pursued in the Baltics, notably by Latvia and Estonia, against Russian-speaking minorities, citing the revival of Nazism, a crackdown on the Russian language and denying citizenship to minorities.

During Russia-EU human rights consultations in Berlin, the Russian delegation accused the EU of ignoring outright violations of common European values and principles the Baltic states were supposed to be part of.

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