09:28 GMT31 March 2020
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    Kremlin-backed group demands activist release at EU body

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    MOSCOW, May 21 (RIA Novosti) - A Kremlin-backed youth group started a protest Monday near the European Commission building in Moscow, demanding the release of an activist in Estonia charged with organizing unrest over the Soviet war memorial relocation.

    An 18-year-old high school student, Mark Siryk, who is also a member of an Estonian anti-Nazi group, was detained in Tallinn late April on suspicion of organizing rallies in the capital of the ex-Soviet Baltic state, which turned into violent clashes with police. Siryk and two youth leaders face up to five years in prison.

    Members of Nashi (Ours) installed a bell on a small platform in front of the building, promising to ring it every 15 minutes from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day to mourn what they called a decline in democracy in Europe.

    "This bell will ring for democracy in Europe until the European community has recognized the issue of Mark Siryk, the only school student imprisoned in Europe," Nashi leader Vasily Yakemenko said, adding the group was planning similar protests in Brussels and Helsinki in June.

    European bodies have backed the Baltic state in its dispute over the World War II memorial with Russia, saying Estonia was within its rights to move the monument.

    They also demanded Moscow ensure the protection of Estonian diplomats, following Nashi and other youth groups besieged the embassy for about a week, obstructed diplomatic cars and attempted to prevent the Estonian ambassador's news conference in early May.

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