2007-05-07 10:52:00

Russia's chief rabbi urges Estonia to reconsider Soviet soldiers' reburial

Moscow, May 7, Interfax - Russia's Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar has called on the Estonian authorities to review their position regarding the reburial of the remains of Soviet soldiers in Tallinn.

"I am calling on the Estonian government, particularly the prime minister, perhaps to change their mind. I understand that they have gone too far now," Lazar told journalists.

The Jewish community worldwide treats Estonia's history with great respect, but the latest steps by the Estonian government cause serious concern, Lazar said.

"When Nazism unfortunately rears its ugly head in Europe today and as there have been attempts to deny the Holocaust, Estonia is acting in a manner that insults memory, which alarms us," he said.

The Jewish people will always regard what the Soviet soldiers did as a heroic feat, Lazar said. In addition, Jews consider people's remains "holy, and reburial is allowed only in exceptional cases," he said.

Among those who were buried on Tonismagi Hill in the center of Tallinn is nurse Yelena Varshavskaya, who was Jewish, Lazar said.

"We deem this [the reburial of the remains] insulting to their memory, and we are hurt by this. This is of great concern to us," Lazar said.