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Removal of Soviet-Era Statue Sparks Second Night of Unrest in Estonia


The Russian government has lashed out at Estonia over the death of a Russian citizen during mass protests against the removal of a Soviet-era monument in the Estonian capital, Tallinn.

Estonian police arrested about 800 protesters during the two nights of riots at the monument's site in central Tallinn. Ninety-six people were injured in clashes between police and mostly ethnic-Russian protesters.

Moscow Saturday demanded an investigation into the death of the Russian national. The Russian Foreign Ministry said Estonia used excessive force against the mostly ethnic-Russian protesters.

Estonian authorities removed the two-meter-tall statue known as the "Bronze Soldier" before dawn Friday, following clashes that began late Thursday.

Russia has called the move an insult to those who fought against fascism in World War II. The parliament's lower house (State Duma) has asked the government to impose economic sanctions on Estonia.

In New York, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on both sides to resolve the dispute "in a spirit of respect and reconciliation."

The Estonian consulate in Moscow closed temporarily as more than 100 demonstrators gathered outside the building to protest.

Russia and members of Estonia's Russian-speaking minority see the monument as honoring the Red Army's role in freeing Estonia from Nazi forces. But many Estonians consider the "Bronze Soldier" a symbol of Soviet occupation.

The tiny Baltic nation was under Soviet rule for nearly 50 years before regaining its freedom in 1991. About 300,000 of the country's 1.3 million people are ethnic Russians.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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