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Estonia hit by cyberattacks after Soviet memorial removal

August 18, 2022

A Russian hacker group said it carried out the attacks after Estonia removed a Soviet-era monument. Estonia said the impact of the "most extensive cyberattacks" it faced in 15 years was limited.

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Denial-of-service attacks (DDoS) usually mean a server is inaccessible due to an artificial surge in demandImage: Alexander Limbach/Zoonar/picture alliance

The Estonian government on Thursday said it repelled major cyberattacks that hit its institutions shortly after removing a Soviet memorial. 

"Yesterday, Estonia was subject to the most extensive cyberattacks it has faced since 2007," said Luukas Ilves, undersecretary for digital transformation at Estonia's Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications.

"With some brief and minor exceptions, websites remained fully available throughout the day. The attack has gone largely unnoticed in Estonia," he added.

Russian group claims responsibility 

Killnet, a Russian hacker group, claimed responsibility for the cyberattacks on Estonia.

The group said it had blocked access to more than 200 state and private Estonian institutions, including online citizen identification systems and government bodies. Ilves, however, insisted that the "attempted attack" was not "effective." 

Killnet said the attack was in response to Estonia's removal of a Soviet Tu-34 tank from public display in Narva, a border town with an ethnic Russian majority.  

Estonia's drive to remove Soviet-era monuments 

With tensions already high between Moscow and NATO-member Estonia over Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin has criticized Estonia's decision to remove the Soviet-era monument in Narva.

"We find this outrageous. A war with a common history, getting rid of monuments for those who saved Europe from fascism, of course, is outrageous. This does not make any nation look good, including Estonia," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier this month.

Since regaining its complete independence in 1991, Estonia has removed several monuments glorifying the Soviet Union. Tallinn says such figures remind Estonians of the painful Soviet occupation of their country.   

The relocation of a Red Army monument in 2007 sparked days of rioting.  

Cyberdefense troops in Estonia

fb/sms (dpa, Reuters, AP) 

Correction, August 18, 2022: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that riots broke out following the removal of the monument on Tuesday. These riots actually occurred in 2007. This has now been corrected. We apologize for the error.

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