The Elder of the Lasnamäe district Andres Vään (Center Party) voluntarily resigned on Wednesday. Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart will nominate Vladimir Svet, the former candidate for central Tallinn (Kesklinn), as the new candidate for Lasnamäe district governor.
Vään has been in office less than a year after starting in the position in May 2019. Lasnamäe is the biggest district in Tallinn.
Commenting on why he decided to resign, Vään said: "I decided to quit my job after some consideration because I felt that the burden and intensity of managing Lasnamäe with more than 100,000 residents, along with social responsibilities elsewhere in Estonia, was too high a price for my family and my health."
Vään's last working day will be March 4. Before appointing a new district governor, the Lasnamäe district council must give its opinion on the candidate proposed by the mayor. In the meantime, the city government has appointed Elena Kalbina, as acting deputy mayor of Lasnamäe. She will start on March 5.
Neither Vään nor Kalbina answered calls when ERR's Russian portal tried to contact them on Wednesday.
Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) said he had accepted Vään's letter of resignation.
Vään raised the Ukrainian 'problem'
In recent months, Vään has spoken out on several occasions stating there are tensions between Lasnamäe's longtime residents and newcomers from Ukraine.
"Since we have no overview of the growth of the workforce coming here, the residents of Lasnamäe feel threatened. It is no secret that in this part of the city there are many who work in the same sector as the Ukrainians. Some of them probably feel threatened that Ukrainians are lowering wages and if the labor market deteriorates, competition for jobs will begin," Vään wrote in newspaper Päevaleht in December 2019. Yesterday ERR News reported the average wage had increased in all areas in 2019.
Kõlvart said he has nothing against Vään's statements, but the problem is not limited to Lasnamäe.
"Different problems have to be separated - the fact that the country's economy needs manpower is a fact we know. How to regulate it is primarily up to the state. It has to be acknowledged that municipalities, including Tallinn, also face integration problems because people come here to live with families, not just to work. We see it in educational institutions, and because Lasnamäe is the largest district, it is the most visible there. This is the reality, " said Kõlvart.
Kõvart said sowing anger and panic is not right. "This is not the way to solve problems," he said.
Kõvart said that Vaan's departure was unrelated to his thoughts.
Before becoming a district governor, Vään worked at the tram service of Tallinn Transport, for his last four years as the director of the service. He also holds positions on the Jõgeva county and Põltsamaa rural municipality councils.
An elder from central Tallinn could move to Lasnamäe
Kõlvart will nominate Vladimir Svet (Center Party), the former Tallinn central district elder candidate as the candidate for Lasnamäe district governor. Who will become the new central elder has not yet been announced.
Kõlvart said the city government and the local population have high expectations for the new elder. They must have a vision of Lasnamäe's development, energy and commitment to implement plans.
"Of course, it is good to have a good knowledge of the area and to take into account its specificities. Vladimir Svet has shown that he has been able to build and maintain cooperation with local people and partners in central Tallinn, and I hope he can apply this good experience in Lasnamäe," he said.
The elder of the district is appointed and dismissed by the Tallinn City Government on the proposal of the mayor, after hearing the opinion of the district council.
Editor: Helen Wright