Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said he will insist Estonia prosecutes the killers of an ethnic Russian whose death in a riot two years ago became a source of tension between the ex-Soviet neighbours.
Relations between Russia and Estonia reached a recent low two years ago when the Estonian authorities removed a Soviet war monument from the centre of Tallinn.
Most ethnic Estonians view the Soviet army’s takeover of the Baltic state at the end of World War Two as an occupation. Russians consider it a liberation.
The row over the monument triggered a riot in April 2007 between ethnic Russians and Estonians in which Dmitry Ganin, an ethnic Russian died.
“I want to assure you that we will firmly insist that those guilty of the death of Dmitry Ganin will be found and given reasonable punishment,” Medvedev wrote in a letter to Ganin’s mother, the Kremlin press service said on Tuesday.
A police spokesman in Estonia said five men are suspected of killing Ganin but nobody has yet been charged with his murder.
After Ganin’s death, anti-Estonia protesters in Moscow waved placards portraying his face and lauded him a hero.
Medvedev’s letter also praised Ganin.
“Your son not only defended a heroic past,” Medvedev wrote. “He also stood up for the civil dignities of people who remember those who gave up their lives for world peace.”
Medvedev’s letter, dated Feb. 22, was a reply to Ganin’s mother who wrote to the Kremlin to thank the Russian president for his support. Estonia is home to a large Russian minority.
In Moscow, Radio Echo Moskvy quoted Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu, a close associate of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, as saying he wanted to introduce a law that would make it illegal to deny Russia’s victory in World War Two.
“Presidents of countries which deny this will not be allowed to enter our country,” Echo Moskvy quoted Shoigu as saying.