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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Don't Buy Estonian Goods, Ivanov Says

First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov on Tuesday urged a boycott of Estonian goods, escalating a conflict over Estonia's plans to move a monument to Soviet soldiers located in the capital, Tallinn.

Estonia wants to remove the statue of a Red Army soldier from the capital because many Estonians see it as a reminder of what they view as four decades of Soviet occupation and Red Army ruthlessness.

Russia says plans to remove the bronze memorial from its central Tallinn location would desecrate the memory of those soldiers who died driving the German army out of Estonia at the end of World War II.

"These actions will not pass unnoticed for Russian-Estonian relations," Ivanov told a meeting of war veterans, Interfax reported. Ivanov is widely seen as a potential successor to President Vladimir Putin, who steps down next year.

"Don't buy Estonian goods," Ivanov said. "Don't go to Estonia on vacation."

Ivanov specifically called on Russians to avoid purchasing milk and cheese from Estonia.

"There's a considerable quantity of Estonian dairy products on the Russian market -- so they shouldn't be purchased," he said.

World War II memorials to the Soviet dead are held dear by Russians more than 60 years after the end of the war, which cost the Soviet Union more than 10 million military lives.

Estonia gained its independence with the collapse of communism and the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, and tensions have remained as Estonia increasingly aligned itself with the West.

(Reuters, AP)