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United States Senate Solidarity with Estonia

SEN. VOINOVICH RESOLUTION CONDEMNING VIOLENCE IN ESTONIA PASSES THE SENATE

May 4, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A resolution introduced by U.S. Senator George V. Voinovich (R-OH), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, expressing support for Estonia and condemning the recent outbreak of violence in Estonia and against its embassies in Moscow and around the world passed the Senate last night. The resolution denounces the violence, vandalism and looting that has taken place in Estonia, as well as the attacks and threats against its embassies and officials in Russia and other countries. Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE), Gordon Smith (R-OR), Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) are original co-sponsors of the resolution.

“The United States Senate stands in solidarity with the Estonian people as they cope with the current unrest and work to bring it to an end,” Sen. Voinovich said. “We are deeply concerned about the violence and vandalism that has been perpetrated against the Estonian embassy and its officials overseas. Violence and intimidation in the region is a dangerous relic of the Soviet era and I call on my Senate colleagues to join me in condemning this outrage.”

The resolution expresses the sense of the Senate that all governments should condemn this violence, encourage peaceful protests and oblige by their commitments to the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations. It also supports the efforts of the Estonian government to initiate a dialogue with the Russian government to resolve the crisis peacefully and to sustain cooperation between their two sovereign, independent states.

Riots broke out in Tallinn for several days following the government’s decision Wednesday to transfer a Soviet memorial statue out of the city center to another military cemetery where the war dead are honored. Members of the Russian Duma visited Estonia on April 30 and issued an official statement calling for the resignation of the Estonian government. For several days, the Estonian embassy in Moscow was surrounded by angry protestors and youth groups who tore down the Estonian flag from the building and harassed and assaulted embassy officials, including Ambassador Kalijurand. They also attacked the car of the Swedish Ambassador to Russia as he left the Estonian embassy.

Estonia was forced to close its embassy and suspend consular services to Moscow because conditions remained unsafe for embassy officials. The Estonian government also reported cyber attacks on its government Web sites that they claim were traced to the Kremlin.

Estonia gained independence from Russia in 1918, but was forcibly reincorporated in 1940. The Soviet Army drove out the occupying Nazis from Estonia during World War II, for which the Bronze statue was erected. Estonia , now in NATO, gained independence once again in 1991.

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