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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Estonia, Russia Rift Averted

TALLINN, Estonia -- Estonia's president has vetoed legislation that called for the relocation of a Soviet war memorial, averting at least temporarily a confrontation with Russia.

The bill, which had provoked an angry response from Moscow, now goes back to parliament, where lawmakers could override the veto.

The measure would prohibit the public display of monuments that glorify the five-decade Soviet occupation of Estonia. It was specifically aimed at the Bronze Soldier, a World War II memorial in Tallinn, the capital, that has become a rallying point for Estonia's Russian-speaking minority, about one-third of the 1.3 million population.

President Toomas Hendrik Ilves announced Thursday that he would not sign the bill after lawmakers approved it Feb. 15. He said the measure violated six articles of the constitution.

Ilves has made clear, though, that his rejection of the legislation was based on technical details, not Russia's protests.

Plans to remove the monument have infuriated Moscow.

If lawmakers override Ilves' veto, the president could take the issue to the country's Supreme Court.