Estonia's decision to ban Soviet symbols disgraceful Russian foreign minister

Other News Materials 1 December 2006 18:16 (UTC +04:00)

(RIA Novosti) - Estonia's decision to prohibit Soviet symbols is disgraceful and can cause fabricated problems, the Russian foreign minister said Friday, reports Trend.

His words came after the Estonian government approved Thursday a law introducing criminal responsibility for the public use and distribution of symbols pertaining to "occupation regimes."

Under the bill, drafted by the Justice Ministry, the demonstration and distribution of official symbols of the Soviet Union and its republics, as well as symbols of the German Nazi Party and SS troops, including easily recognizable fragments of such symbols, will be considered as attempts to stir up hatred and will entail penal consequences.

"I consider the Estonian government's latest decision morally disgraceful, and it can engender fabricated political problems now that real problems, including those of the Russian-speaking population, should be resolved there," Sergei Lavrov said.

The use of Soviet and Nazi symbols will be punished with fines or imprisonment of up to three years, depending on the circumstances. Legal entities will be fined up to 50,000 krones (some 3,200 euros).

The bill will soon be submitted for parliament's consideration.

Mikhail Kamynin, official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, has already reacted to the bill, calling it outrageous.

"The Estonian authorities are continuing their disgraceful attempts to re-write history and equate Nazi crimes and the heroism of the Soviet people, who made a solid contribution to Europe's liberation from Fascism," he said, adding that Estonia's move could seriously damage relations between the countries.

The Baltic country was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940, before World War II, and then re-conquered following the Nazi occupation of 1941-1944.