15:29 GMT30 May 2020
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    Russia's chief rabbi defends Soviets killed in WWII in Estonia

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    TEL AVIV, July 4 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's chief rabbi Wednesday denounced claims that Soviet soldiers who drove the Nazis from Estonia during WWII were occupants, as the remains of a Red Army nurse killed near Tallinn were reburied in Jerusalem.

    Medical Sergeant Yelena Varshavskaya was one of 12 Soviet soldiers killed in action near the Estonian capital in September 1944. Her body was exhumed April 26, when the Soviet-era monument over their grave was relocated to a military cemetery on Tallinn's outskirts.

    Chief Rabbi Berl Lazar, who conducted her reburial at the world's oldest Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, condemned statements describing the Soviet soldiers as occupants.

    "Sergeant Varshavskaya's sacrifice is the symbol of today's ceremony. She bravely went into action, knowing she has little chance of survival, but she knew that there is nothing as important as saving other people's lives. This is a lesson for the whole world as well as for the Jewish people," Lazar said.

    "Those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to save others should not be called occupants," he said.

    The monument relocation had provoked mass protests in Tallinn and other Estonian cities, during which over 1,000 people were detained, dozens injured and one ethnic Russian killed.

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