While a vox pop of locals of varying ages taken by AK was anything to say, however, issues of bad behavior persist.
Tapa is home to a large NATO base, which has housed the Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battle Group since early 2017. The battle group is led by the United Kingdom.
City mayor Riho Tell (Reformation) told AK that while banning soldiers based at the nearby NATO base would be a solution, it was not one that neither he nor the local residents would. wanted.
Liaison with the leaders of the Allied and Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) would be preferable, Tell said.
âOne solution for us is to try to make the leaders of the [EDF] 1st Infantry Brigade and Allied leaders that behavior in the cultural space should be in accordance with custom here, âsaid Tell.
Such behavior, according to a young local resident, Keimo, sometimes involved fights.
âIt happened twice last weekend. One time it was just to push and the second time what you saw in the video,â Keimo told AK.
The video referred to appeared on the website of the local daily Virumaa Teataja and shows what appear to be British Royal Military Police (RMP) personnel pinning a local man to the ground, dragging a local woman to the ground and pushing away another local woman who had approached the scene, which included the use of what appeared to be a raised baton-type tool. Two Britons also approached the scene, which followed the brawl that broke out around 8:00 p.m.
Estonian military police (SÃµjavÃ¶epolitsei) were also at the scene, AK reported.
Other local residents painted a more auspicious picture. “They are terribly polite people … Our people are not that polite,” a man, who said he worked as a taxi driver in Tapa, told AK.
However, another resident, Niina, who runs a fruit market stall, said that while her communication with Allied soldiers was fairly normal, they should work out.
âThey are often drunk in the streets and do not behave politely. They scream, pretend they’re the only ones in town. They make fun of women, children or the elderly – they behave with a lack of dignity, “Niina told AK.
An Estonian citizen, apparently a member of EDF, involved in last Saturday’s event lodged a complaint with the Eastern Prefecture of the Police and Border Guard Council (PPA), which opened a criminal investigation regarding the section of the penal code dealing with physical abuse, AK reported.
AK reported that Saturday’s brawl between British soldiers on leave involved four Estonians, a man and three women, who had been sitting for a few hours on the outdoor terrace of a local cafe and pizzeria – the current restrictions on coronaviruses ban dining inside restaurants, etc. – in the immediate vicinity of the resting soldiers, who had also been there for some time.
A source told ERR News that the flashpoint came when some of the soldiers on leave objected to what they perceived to be mistreatment of one of the women by the man accompanying them.
The ensuing brawl spread to the nearby street and one of the British soldiers called the police, AK reported, most likely the RMP patrol pictured in the video, as the military base is only ‘approximately 2 km away and that, by mutual agreement, RMP personnel generally deal with all situations involving Allied personnel – who in the NATO Battle Group also included a significant number of Danish, French and Belgian troops – rather than the PPA.
The man seen in the video who was detained is heard shouting, âYou are beating my wife.
The cafe owner reiterated to AK what a spokesperson for the same company told Viru Teataja, that the local soldiers when they are off the base and in the cafe generally behave well.
In addition, the onset of warmer weather and the easing of restrictions on coronaviruses that allowed restaurant terraces to open until 9 p.m. has been accompanied by a spike in more rowdy behavior, has t she said, adding that the cafe had already spoken to RMP staff about the shutdown. time, and that the RMP had informed the cafe to call them if there were any problems with the soldiers on leave adhering to the closing regulations.
The head of a local high school said he had not seen anything untoward on the school premises, but if anything came to light it would not be tolerated.
Reports said soldiers on leave were seen smoking inside the school stadium – which they are allowed to use for sporting activities, in agreement with local authorities.
Agreements are in place between Estonia and Britain for the maintenance of order in the streets of Tapa by British members of the RMP, AK reported.
The commander of the 1st Battalion of the Mercian Regiment, Lt. Col. Dean Canham, said complaints about soldiers’ conduct were taken very seriously and cooperation with local authorities had been established.
The investigation into last Saturday’s incident is ongoing.
The original AK slot (in Estonian and Russian) is here.
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