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    Work starts to exhume Soviet soldiers in Tallinn

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    Work started Thursday morning on the exhumation and reburial of fallen WWII Soviet soldiers buried by the Bronze Soldier statue in Tallinn.

    TALLINN, April 26 (RIA Novosti) - Work started Thursday morning on the exhumation and reburial of fallen WWII Soviet soldiers buried by the Bronze Soldier statue in Tallinn.

    At 4.30 a.m. local time (01.30 a.m. GMT) masked police blocked the area around Tynismyagi square, where the six-foot statue is located in Tallinn, closed adjacent streets, forcing people away from the memorial. They have started fencing off the area around the statue.

    Estonia's defense minister Thursday said preparatory work had begun on the identification of the remains of soldiers buried by the memorial, the area will be fenced off and a tent erected.

    The identification will be conducted following methods used by Interpol to identify disaster victims (DVI - Disaster Victim Identifications) and in accordance with medical and anthropological legal practice, and the law on the wartime burials.

    The identification process will be overseen by the Estonian Forensic Medical Expertise Bureau together with the Prosecutor's Office and a pathologist will attend all exhumations.

    A member of the Antifascist Committee Andrei Zarenkov said that the exhumations should have started Wednesday, "Estonian government plans were ruined by Boris Yeltsin's death and funeral."

    All police leave in Estonia has been canceled and reinforcements have been brought in to Tallinn from other towns in the run up to May 8 and 9 - VE Day. And Tuesday the Estonian border department said that tighter border controls had been implemented until further notice.

    The six-foot Bronze Soldier and other Soviet memorials have recently become rallying points for ethnic Russians, and following clashes with Estonian nationalists near the statues the authorities called for monuments "dividing society" to be removed.

    Russia has accused Estonia of encouraging Nazism and discrimination against ethnic Russians, and even prompted a debate on possible energy sanctions against Estonia. Moscow has also called for international organizations to step in.

    Some 50,000 Soviet troops perished in Estonia in 1944 fighting against Nazi Germany. The Soviets regained control of the republic, which many Estonians call occupation. The bodies of the soldiers killed in action are buried at 450 cemeteries and memorials across the Baltic country.

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