Solution on the horizon for Narva street names dispute

Ants Daumani tänav in Narva.
Ants Daumani tänav in Narva. Source: ERR

The dispute over scandalous street names in the city of Narva might finally be getting a solution as a bill that could be used to obligate local governments to change street names that are deemed inappropriate has been entered into Riigikogu proceedings.

The bill put forth by Isamaa and Reform Party MPs would not allow the names of people who have acted against the Republic of Estonia to be used as place names, "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported on Saturday.

In Narva, the Tiimanni and Daumani streets named after members of the Commune of the Working People of Estonia are protected by the city council that has not found reason to replace the names since the turn of the century.

There is no single answer to the question why the city council is reluctant to change the names of streets currently named after people who fought against the Republic of Estonia. Reasons given have included inconvenience and cost, while it might simply be a matter of stubbornness.

"The people who are in favor of renaming the streets rely on rather subjective and controversial information. There are opinions to the contrary, according to which these people protected Estonian independence. It is history, but the right of local governments to rename streets cannot be given to some kind of state structures," said Aleksei Mägi, chairman of the Narva city council's municipal economy committee.

The Narva city government proposed changing the name of Tiimanni Street to Soldina Street and renaming Daumani Street as Kivilinna Street. The bill made the rounds in the council for a year but came to nothing.

"If the state can make itself heard in this matter, it should not remain a bystander. In a situation where it is evident local rulers are reluctant to do it, intervention is necessary. And then we can simply say that the state made it happen against our will and there's nothing we can do about it," said Narva city councilman Tarmo Tammiste.

The amendment to the Place Names Act would allow the government to order Narva to change street names. The Narva city council would prefer to hold a local referendum instead.

Eerik-Niiles Kross, one of the Reform Party MPs behind the bill, has said that the current initiative was motivated primarily by Narva's decades-long inability to get two street names changed that honor Estonians who worked for Soviet powers — Albert-August Tiimann and Ants Dauman — but added that there may be more unsuitable names elsewhere in the country.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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