Viljandi Jaak Joala installation still standing

The controversial Jaak Joala monument by night.
The controversial Jaak Joala monument by night. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

A monument to Estonian singer Jaak Joala remains standing despite controversy which almost led to its demise last week.

The fate of the installation, in the South Estonian town of Viljandi, Joala's home town, hinges on a city council decision, mayor Madis Timpson told ERR's radio news Tuesday.

While last week was set aside for discussing the matter further, Timpson said:  "In the meantime, various factions of Viljandi city council chamber, from both the opposition and the coalition, have turned to the city government, who want to discuss this issue on the council as well. Timpson said. 

"As a result, the city government decided that we would then send the issue to the council for discussion and position," he added, noting that he could not say exactly when the decision would be made, simply that the next council sitting was on Thursday and that nothing could change before then.

The installation, which features light and sound as well as a likeness of the late singer's face and hands, had hit trouble more on claims of financial transparency, or lack thereof, than on aesthetic grounds. Joala's widow had threatened legal action against the city council if the feature were not removed, a process supposed to happen the Monday before last.

MTÜ Meie Viljandi, the organization behind the development, reportedly received €50,000 in grant money towards the project.

A native of Viljandi, Jaak Joala played flute and also bass guitar in addition to singing; he was a member of two bands, "Kristallid" ("The Crystals") from the mid-1960s and then "Virmalised" ("Northern Lights") from the late 1960s and through the 1970s. He regularly performed in Russia and in the Russian language. After restoration of independence, he appeared on stage frequently with Estonia's other two biggest male singing stars, Tõnis Mägi and Ivo Linna, taking a more behind-the-scenes role in his final years, when he also suffered bouts of illness. He died on September 25 2014, in Tallinn.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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