For Estonia's ethnic Russians, ties to Moscow fading

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TALLINN, Estonia -- The passion that erupted in this storybook capital city and on the streets of Moscow in the past two weeks because of divided understanding of a shared history left Igor Britikovski cold.

The 23-year-old ethnic Russian, who is an Estonian citizen, had never visited the bronze statue of a Soviet Red Army soldier whose relocation from central Tallinn to a military cemetery on April 26 sparked riots by ethnic Russians here and a siege of the Estonian Embassy in Moscow...

Estonia was part of the Soviet Union for close to five decades, a period many Estonians view as an occupation. Large numbers of Russian civilians moved here, often resented by the locals. When independence came in 1991, the Russians found themselves a vulnerable minority and sometimes continued to look to Moscow to defend their interests. But the cross-border debate of recent days, for all its fury, has disguised a growing distance between Russia and some of those ethnic kin 16 years later, concerning not just history and the fate of the statue but, increasingly, the place of ethnic Russians in an independent Estonia.

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