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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Estonia Charges Russians With Inciting Hate

TALLINN, Estonia -- Two Russian women were charged Friday with trying to incite ethnic hatred between Estonians and Russian-speakers.

The women -- Esya Shur, 64, and Lidia Kashnova, 63 -- had made inflammatory statements at a rally last year, police spokesman Hannes Kont said. He said he did not know the details of the rally or what the women allegedly said.

The women, both of whom live in Estonia but hold Russian citizenship, are known as prominent activists in Estonia's Russian-speaking community, Kont said. Approximately 30 percent of the country's residents are Russian-speakers.

Many ethnic Russians claim Estonia's policies on citizenship are aimed at disenfranchising them, a complaint also levelled by Russians in the other former-Soviet Baltic states.

In April, the Russian government lashed out at Latvia for alleged discrimination against its ethnic Russians, threatening trade sanctions unless the country relaxed its citizenship laws.

Russia's complaint came after Latvian police roughly broke up a demonstration of mostly Russian-speaking pensioners.

Kont said the arrest of the two pension-aged Russian women in Estonia could be a sensitive issue, but said it was necessary because investigators had concluded the law had been violated.