A 19-year-old university student has been detained on suspicion of participating in a wave of computer attacks protesting the Estonian government's removal of a Soviet-era memorial from the center of that country's capital. It was the first arrest in the attacks, which last week shut down many Estonian government websites.
The suspect was identified only as a Russian national named Dmitri, according to numerous reports, among them carried by Radio Free Europe and the Sydney Morning Herald. A spokeswoman for the Estonian prosecutor's office was quoted saying Dmitri made online postings that called for organized denial-of-service attacks against the country's servers and included addresses and instructions for people to carry them out.
"Dmitri is the first person detained, but the investigation continues, as many of the attacks came from abroad, including from Russia," she said.
Last week's attacks were unusual in the annals of cyber crime because they appeared to be motivated by civil unrest, rather than the motivation for monetary gain that accompanies most of the computer attacks being reported. The strife stems from the removal of a bronze statute depicting a WWII Russian soldier from the city of Tallinn. Russians, many of them living in Estonia, see the memorial as a tribute to the millions of Russian soldiers who died defeating Nazism. Estonians tend to see it as a painful reminder of more than 50 years of Soviet occupation.
One man, said by Radio Free Europe to be an ethnic Russian, was stabbed to death and 150 were injured in the worst riots to grip Estonia since it gained independence in the early 1990s. The Estonian embassy in Moscow was also the scene of two days of angry protests. ®