Blame It On the Drink: Tallinn Bans Alcohol Sales To Quell Rioting
After Thursday night/Friday morning's unprecedented violence in Tallinn, city officials banned public assemblies and the sale of alcohol, attempting to curb the rampant rioting which continued through Saturday morning and seems to have now lost momentum (for the time being?). Perhaps it worked, because as of Monday, things had settled down and tourists once again wandered the cobbled streets oblivious to the sobering events of the weekend which left the medieval Old Town looking like a battlefield. For Tallinn residents, however, a return to normalcy still looks like it will be a long way off. The Estonian Parliament building remains barricaded - the first time it has been since Soviet tanks trolled the city squashing Estonian freedom-fighters; organised protests - in the form of slow-moving, horn-blaring motorcades, for example - continue to creatively take place; Russian demands for the resignation of prime minister Andrus Anslip and the disbanding of the present Estonian government are gaining momentum; the scorched and shattered wreckage of the riots and lootings still scar the city; and the Bronze Soldier has yet to be 'fully installed' at his new site in a military cemetery outside the city centre. The Russian delegation, which arrived today to oversee the situation - inspect the excavation site, attempt to somehow spin the unfortunate event of a Russian man's stabbing death during Thursday's violence into a "police killing," and chat with detained leaders of several Russian nationalist organisations (who were asked in not so many words by Moscow to instigate what became two days of rioting) - apparently hasn't been getting any cooperation from Tallinn city officials who clearly didn't invite them. Twelve graves have been revealed beneath the deposed monument and a police-protected excavation is trying to move forward. The Estonian government has promised the excavations will be complete and the Bronze Soldier will be sternly standing in all his brooding glory at the new site in time for May 9th 'Victory Day' celebrations, which traditionally involve a heated ethnic clash at the Soldier's feet. But, hey, at least we've moved that annual bit of ugliness outside our soon-to-be-resplendent-again medieval tourist district.
All told, over 1000 people were detained by police as a result of the riots, and 153 people were hospitalised. An investigation into the death of a Russian man is currently being conducted.
Most of those arrested by police were drunken Russian-speaking teenagers, prompting the ban on alcohol sales which remains in effect. Apparently the Estonian demographic with the most unresolved (and explosive) issues concerning conflicting opinions about Russian's re-entry into Estonia in 1944, are alcoholic ethnic Russians between the ages of 13 and 19. Still, must the rest of us suffer? Ban hormones and let's go have a drink...
LEARN MORE about Russia and Estonia's feud over the Bronze Soldier.