Police interrupted a rally in Narva on Saturday in support of the return of Soviet monuments because the event featured military symbols and violated the requirements for organising a public assembly.

On August 27 police stopped a demonstration by supporters of Soviet monuments in the eastern Estonian city of Narva. According to the police, rules of organization public events were violated.

Military symbols were visible at the rally, which the participants refused to hide.

A misdemeanour case has been opened against the rally organiser and two participants, the Police and Border Guard Department said.

Urmas Elmi, operational head of the Ida Prefecture, said the rally had been registered by the police, but increased attention had been paid to the event to prevent possible provocations. “Our aim was to ensure public order at the rally and ensure that the event was peaceful and without disturbances. We interrupted the rally because the people involved were displaying military symbols and did not agree to remove them,” Elmi said.

Police took the rally organiser, a 52-year-old woman, to the police station. A misdemeanour case has been opened against her under a paragraph of the Penitentiary Code, which deals with violation of the requirements for holding a public assembly. In addition, misdemeanour proceedings have been initiated against two persons wearing military insignia under a paragraph of the Penitentiary Code which deals with incitement to hatred.

“We assess risks and threats to public order for each public assembly, we have spoken to the organisers of the rally. We had a preliminary conversation with the presenter of today’s event, explained the possible dangers and reminded that the use of military symbols and incitement to hatred is not allowed in Estonia. We also explained that it was the responsibility of the organiser of the assembly to comply with all the requirements for organising a public assembly.

As a reminder, on 16 August, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas announced that the Estonian government had decided to remove Soviet monuments from public places across the country because “as symbols of repression and the Soviet occupation, Soviet monuments have become a source of growing tension”. On the same day, a monument with a Soviet T-34 tank was removed in Narva, where most of the Russian-speaking population lives.