By Bryan Caplan
I rarely care about symbolic issues, but for the Estonian statue controversy, I’ll make an exception:
Young Russians staged raucous protests in Moscow on Wednesday to denounce neighboring Estonia for removing a Soviet war memorial from its capital, and the Estonian ambassador said pro-Kremlin activists tried to attack her as she arrived at a news conference.
Sweden said its ambassador also was assaulted as he left the Estonian Embassy after a meeting Wednesday, saying protesters surrounding the compound kicked his car and tore off a Swedish flag.
The protests were the most disorderly in Russia since Estonian authorities took the bronze statue of a Red Army soldier from a downtown square Friday. The monument, which commemorates the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, was put in an Estonian military cemetery this week.
Most Americans will probably be baffled by this controversy, so let me give a little background. In 1939, Hitler and Stalin divided up eastern Europe. Estonia went to Stalin, and many Estonians were sent to slave labor camps in Siberia. In 1941, Hitler turned on Stalin, and quickly occupied Estonia. By the end of World War II, Estonia had been reconquered by the Red Army, and Stalin annexed it. Estonia remained a captive nation of the Soviet Union until 1991.
And Russians take offense because the Estonians moved a monument to their “liberation” by the Red Army?