Gallery: Viljandi authorities cover up controversial Jaak Joala feature

Viljandi's urban management workers have covered a controversial monument to Estonian singer Jaak Joala. Enclosing the monument with a wooden box took about an hour.

Viljandi city government decided to temporarily cover the installation until additional negotiations with Joala's widow Maire take place.

Maire Joala says the monument, unveiled during the New Year holidays, infringes her rights as Jaak Joala's trademark's owner, and has submitted an injunction to remove the monument, or at least the aspects of Joala's likeness, name etc., by January 18. Otherwise, Maire Joala says she will go to court.

The monument, initiated by the non-profit organization Meie Viljandi's board member Harri Juhani Aaltonen (Isamaa), brought along controversial opinions from the town's residents and arts experts, also due to the manner in which it was finances as much as on aesthetic grounds. Nonetheless, the monument ended up one of the town's star attractions since it was opened.

Mayor of Viljandi, Madis Timpson, told ERR that the monument was covered at the request of Maire Joala.

"At the end of last week, we received a request that until they are negotiating with the non-profit organization Meie Viljandi, the exposing of the monument should be stopped, it would be reasonable to meet the request," he said.

On Monday, February 1, the city government sent the non-profit organization a warning that as of the end of February, there would need to be a document that proves that Maire Joala has approved the sketch and performance of the monument. This was the condition for acquiring the €50,000 in support.

Mayor Madis Timpson said that the city government won't go to court against Maire Joala, however.

On Tuesday, February 2, the first meeting between Meie Viljandi, the city government and Maire Joala's representatives took place, in Tallinn.

Harri Juhani Aaltonen says he is now clear about what kind of monument Maire Joala approves of.

"Viljandi city government hasn't been able to remove the garbage bin next to the monument and I have asked for that to be done several times. The second thing is the golden panel; maybe something else should be there. We will definitely meet again, but before we will make proposals about the changes," Aaltonen.

The changes can be made in cooperation with the creator of the monument, Mati Karmin.

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: Roberta Vaino

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