The Language Inspectorate has began an investigation of the Narva city council after it emerged that the working language of sittings is Russian. Official meetings must be held in Estonian, and no exemptions are made in local government or language laws.
Narva council chairman Tarmo Tammiste told local paper Põhjarannik that council sittings are held in Russian. Narva, situated on the border with Russia, is predominantly Russian-speaking and is Estonia's third largest city.
“This may not be legal, but what is one to do!? It would be pointless to hold sittings in a language, which is not understood,” Tammiste said, adding that most of the councilmen do not speak Estonian. He said all employees of the council do speak Estonian.
Language Inspectorate chief Ilmar Tomusk said the city could face charges or a fine, but the inspectorate will first dispatch an investigator to Narva to review the situation. He said the inspectorate had previously thought that Narva held two meetings, one in Russian to discuss bills and a second, and shorter official meeting, for an actual vote. Tammiste said that this was the case in Narva when he first took office 10 years ago.
Editor: J.M. Laats