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Disputed Soviet war memorial is removed in Estonia

Estonian authorities removed a disputed Soviet war memorial overnight Friday, a government spokesman said.

The monument was taken to an undisclosed place, spokesman Martin Jasko said. He added that Bronze Soldier statue would be taken to a military cemetery in Tallinn.

Estonian TV pictures showed the monument - which is known as the Bronze Soldier - was no longer standing in its usual location in downtown Tallinn.

One person was killed during the unrest at a protest Thursday over the statue's removal, Jasko said. Another 44 protesters were injured when the demonstrators clashed with police, as were 12 police officers, Jasko said. About 300 protesters were arrested.

Estonia's ethnic Russians - roughly one-third of the country's 1.3 million population - see the Bronze Soldier as a tribute to Red Army soldiers who died fighting Nazi Germany and vowed to protect it.

Many ethnic Estonians, however, consider the memorial a painful reminder of the hardships they endured under Soviet rule, and wanted it removed from the city center.

In Moscow, Russian foreign ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamyinin said the action "should be examined with all seriousness by international organizations and the necessary steps should be taken to cool the ardor of the Estonian authorities," RIA-Novosti news agency reported.

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