Justice minister opposes plans to build football hall by communism memorial

Artist's impression of the planned training hall, upper building in the picture. The existing memorial in Maarjamäe is in the center.
Artist's impression of the planned training hall, upper building in the picture. The existing memorial in Maarjamäe is in the center. Source: Eek & Mutso

Justice minister Raivo Aeg (Isamaa) has hit out at plans to construct an indoor training hall for professional football team Levadia, saying that its Maarjmäe site, in Tallinn, would be too close to the Memorial to the Victims of Communism.

Aeg submitted a request to public administration minister Jaak Aab (Center), that the state real estate company Riigi Kinnisvara AS (RKAS), which own the site, withdraw permission. An outdoor training site already exists in the location, but predates the original plans for the memorial, which was unveiled in 2018.

Aeg told ERR Tuesday that his ministry, organizations connected with commemorating victims of repression, and the architects of the memorial themselves, find a football hall being sited right next to it as inappropriate.

"Football is in any case a noisy active sport by its very nature, and the two developments simply do not fit with each other. Our proposal is to find another place for the football hall in Tallinn where there is no conflict with other buildings ahead," said Aeg.

The indoor football hall found its way to design stage in 2014, before the memorial was even at planning stage.

However, Aeg noted in 2015 – by which time plans for the memorial were known – that the RKAS had failed to consult with the Ministry of Justice in agreeing to its detailed plan.

Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Center), however, said that it was not within Aeg's remit to instruct a state body how to act, adding that discussions were ongoing and a compromise was likely coming.

"The Minister cannot instruct the RKAS to behave one way or another. Those involved can sit down and look for compromises. This does not work, the Minister cannot instruct a state-owned company to make decisions," said Aab, adding that decisions are made by the RKAS management and council.

Prior to the final approval of the detailed plan, the parties will have until June 29 to submit their final objections. 

According to Aeg, the last opportunity would be to challenge the decision at the first-tier administrative court level as well, but in his opinion, state authorities should not go to court against each other.

Jaak Aab added that no substantive changes could be made to the plan either, though a solution may be found in cooperation between city and planner, which, Aab said, should satisfy both the architects of the memorial and the Ministry of Justice.

Tallinn deputy mayor: City will abide by RKAS' will as owner

Deputy Mayor of Tallinn Andrei Novikov (Center) told ERR that the properties in question belong to the RKAS and that the city makes its planning decisions on the matter in line with that.

"It is in the interest of the city to ensure a solution that is suitable for urban space, and in this respect we are also processing the will of the owner so that it is guaranteed in a balanced way," Novikov said, adding that normal urban planning criteria including considerations that the hall be placed as far as possible from residential areas had been taken on board.

The Maarjamäe stadium lease agreement was signed between Levadia and the RKAS in 2005 and is set to run to 2041. Levadia moved into the training complex in 2007.

Levadia has trained in Maarjmäe since 2007

With the lease agreement concluded between RKAS and Levadia at the end of 2005, the football club acquired the right to use and build the Maarjamäe stadium for 36 years, ie until the end of 2041. The indoor training ground's building would be part financed by the Estonian FA (Eesti Jalgpalli Liit)), but maintenance would be Levadia's responsibility.

The intention would be to use it both for children's and youth teams as well as pros, primarily during the winter months.

Levadia plays in the top-flight Meistriliiga; its home games are played at the A.le Coq Arena in Tallinn.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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