Friday, May 16, 2008

Gassing about war graves

Pipelines from Russia

Dead souls

May 15th 2008
From The Economist print edition

A gas pipeline and Soviet war graves

AS A sign of Russia's importance as a gas supplier to Europe and of its special relationship with Germany, few things beat the planned Nord Stream pipeline on the Baltic seabed. It was conceived in secret by a German-Russian consortium that is now headed by a former German chancellor, Gerhard Schröder. A Polish minister once likened it, perhaps intemperately, to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact of 1939.

An Estonian member of the European Parliament, Andres Tarand, claims that the pipeline will also disturb Soviet war graves dating from naval battles in 1941, when forces occupying Estonia fled Hitler's advance. His sources include a classified Soviet military map of 1985, and work by an Estonian historian, Mati Oun, who calls it “the biggest marine cemetery in the world”. The Russians are sensitive about war graves and memorials, as they showed in a recent row about a statue in Estonia. But a Nord Stream spokesman insists that only one wreck is in fact anywhere near the pipeline route, and adds that it will not be disturbed. Who says energy politics is always boring?

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