Ingrid Teesalu, ERR News
It is unlikely that events similar to the Bronze Soldier riots, which shook the nation exactly five years ago, will ever occur in Estonia again, Marju Lauristin, professor of social communication at the University of Tartu said.
On April 26, 2007, the government ordered relocation of the statue of the Bronze Soldier – a symbol of the Red Army's victory over Nazi Germany for the many in the Russian-speaking community – from its location in downtown Tallinn to a military cemetery. The move was initiated by the government and supported by a large part of the Estonian-speaking population who saw it as a brutal remainder of the Soviet power.
According to Lauristin, the integration reforms carried out in in Russian-language schools have over the last five years been so profound that their impact is already irreversible, canceling the likelihood of similar riots ever taking place in Estonia again.
Although the relocation of the monument was a strong emotional shock for the Russian-speaking community, studies suggest that most have managed to put the events in the past, said Lauristin, adding that another important aspect is that the riots kick-started a dialogue between the two communities. Also it made the ethnic Estonian population realize more profoundly the necessity of engaging minorities into the society, she said.
The large-scale cyber attacks against Estonia that followed the riots, turned Estonia into a world-renowned opinion leader and pathfinder in the field of cyber security, Lauristin said. Trust in Prime Minister Andrus Ansip and his Reform Party also spiked after the riots, she conceded.
Research has also shown that the event caused no backlash in trade relations between Estonia and Russia, but rather served as boost, with export to Russia having grown 15 percent in 2007.
Today at 19:00, a group of activists will hold a sanctioned public meeting on Tallinn's Freedom Square to commemorate the 2007 events. Approximately 100 people are expected to attend.
5 Years Later: Bronze Soldier Riots Not Likely to Occur Again, Says Professor (2)