Members of the Center Party's Narva branch have issued a statement hitting out at regional leader Yana Toom, and what they say are unfair practices in admitting new members to the party. The statement comes as several councilors who had been part of a breakaway political faction in the eastern border town now want to join Center. Toom says signatures on the document have been falsified.
In an address to the party's board, the six members, including former Narva Mayor Tarmo Tammiste, set out their outrage about, and opposition towards, the practise of admission of new party members without getting the consent of the board first, regional daily Põhjarannik writes (link in Estonian), blame for which they put fairly and squarely at the feet of Yana Toom, and also Allen Allet, coordinator of Center's Ida-Viru County branch.
Yana Toom, an MEP, told ERR Tuesday morning however that Tarmo Tammiste had forged three of the signatures appearing in the statement, which says continued cooperation with her and Allen Allet is no longer viable. She also told Põhjarannik that two of the signatories had only learned of their supposed stance by reading about it in the daily.
The names appearing on the statement are Vitali Ilyin, Jana Kirs, Maksim Volkov, Lyudmilla Morina and Natalya Shibalova, in addition to Tammiste.
The statement read: "Such actions [on new member admission] cast a shadow over the party and divide it, showing that some members of the party value their personal ambitions more highly, and are ready to take completely incomprehensible steps towards that end, something which could have serious consequences for the whole party."
Narva city politics has often been tumultuous; in 2018 a breakaway Center group called "Our Home, Narva" was formed by disgruntled city deputies. Aleksei Jevgarov, ousted as mayor last month, and Irinia Janovich, who resigned as city council chair, had been "Our Home, Narva" members, and opted to join or rejoin Center, along with several other deputies, and with Toom's blessing, restoring the party's overall majority on the council chambers. Jevgarov and the other councillors, totalling 12 people, aim to join Center but have not as yet done so, ERR's online news in Estonian reports.
The Center Party has a majority on Tallinn City Council and several other municipalities, particularly those with a Russian-speaking majority, or at least significant presence - a traditional source of much of the party's support. It is also in office at the national level, in a coalition with the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa.
The process for electing a new Narva mayor begins Tuesday. Former interior minister and Social Democratic Party (SDE) MP Katri Raik is widely tipped as the next incumbent.
Editor: Andrew Whyte