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Rail Freight To Estonia Will Resume

Rail freight between Russia and Estonia, interrupted during a dispute over the relocation of a Soviet war memorial in Tallinn, will soon resume in full, Russian Railways chief Vladimir Yakunin said Saturday.

"Traffic is limited at present, but soon it will be restored in full," Yakunin was quoted by Interfax as telling reporters in St. Petersburg.

Russia cut exports of fuel oil, diesel and gasoline through Estonia by at least 30 percent in the first 10 days of May after a dispute over the removal in Tallinn of a World War II monument that sparked riots by local ethnic Russians.

Russian Railways said last week that the rail link to Estonia was undergoing routine maintenance.

But oil traders said the Kremlin had ordered the cut in refined products supplies.

The dispute has added to tensions between the European Union and Russia over Moscow's ban on Polish meat imports ahead of a summit on May 18 in Samara. Estonia received support from both the EU and NATO for its action.

Yakunin, a powerful bureaucrat who has been suggested as a possible successor to President Vladimir Putin, said he was personally offended by the Estonian government's decision to remove the statue but would keep his official contacts.

"I will talk business with these people but will never accept them as friends," Yakunin said.

(The Moscow Times 14.v.07)

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