Estonian Prime Minister Warns to Move Soviet Monuments as Soon as Possible

Thursday, 4 August 2022

The Estonian government has agreed that Soviet monuments, including the Narva tank monument, should be removed in public space as soon as possible.

"We have decided the main thing, the communist monuments must be moved from public space and we will do it as quickly as possible. The specific time and order depend on the readiness and logistical plans of local governments, logistics require exactly the same consideration, organization and the involvement of the private sector," ERR quotes Prime Minister Kaja Kallas.

There are from 200 to 400 such monuments in total in Estonia.

Kallas noted that anyone who has such monuments on private land could move them themselves, as happened with the howitzer at the Auvere power plant.

"A separate issue is the Narva tank, which has been talked about a lot. Currently, this tank belongs to the City of Narva, and in the current legal space, it has been difficult. But since it is clear that Narva is not doing it itself, tensions are rising there, it is clear that the Estonian state and government must make the decision themselves to move this and other monuments with symbolic value," Kallas said.

"It is important to overemphasize that commemorating the dead is not prohibited in any way and will not be prohibited, but that it should be done in the right place, and that is at a cemetery, where it can be done with dignity," added the Prime Minister.

"A tank is a murder weapon, it is not a memorial object, and these same tanks are killing people on the streets of Ukraine right now," she said.

The mayor of Narva, Katri Raik, was against the Soviet tank monument removal, calling it part of the Russian-speaking population of Narva's identity.

Raik made it clear that most citizens would not like it and warned Prime Minister Kaja Kallas to avoid splitting the society.

The government of Estonia insists that the Soviet tank monument in Narva has to be moved elsewhere.

Narva is the largest predominantly Russian-speaking city in Estonia and is actually located on the border with Russia. Most residents (more than 80%) are ethnic Russians, and about 36% have Russian citizenship.

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