Tallinn asks government for Maarjamäe memorial real estate plots

Snow in Tallinn on February 1, 2021.
Snow in Tallinn on February 1, 2021. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

In a letter to the government, Tallinn City Government asked the state to transfer the plots of land on which the Soviet-era Maarjamäe Memorial was built to the city's responsibility.

Tallinn deputy mayor Kalle Klandorf (Center) said the city will begin with restoring the memorial in Tallinn with there being €500,000 allocated for the renovation works.

In fall of 2020, the memorial and its nearby obelisk were fenced off as the constructions had become dilapidated, becoming a public hazard. The Soviet-era memorial, located in Maarjamäe, Tallinn - not to be confused with the nearby Memorial to the Victims of Communism opened in 2018 - has stood largely unused for years now, with it recently finding use as a backdrop to the Christopher Nolan-directed Hollywood blockbuster "Tenet".

The memorial was completed over several stages, the first of which, built in 1960, is an obelisk commemorating the Soviet Baltic Fleet. The remaining edifices of the memorial were opened in 1975.

Former Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE) has previously said the entire memorial should be demolished as it is "still a symbol of the period of [Soviet] occupation." The previous prime ministerial party Center tried to transfer the Maarjamäe memorial plots to the city, but coalition partners EKRE and Isamaa were not fond of the idea.

Then-Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) said the Estonian state should not pay for the renovation of occupation-era monuments.

As EKRE and Isamaa have now fallen out of government, Tallinn deputy mayor Kalle Klandorf is calling for the government to act more favorably toward the renovation project, sending a letter to the government on Monday, asking for the plot to be transferred to the city. Klandorf emphasized that Rene Kokk (EKRE), a former environment minister, promised to take the idea to government for discussions.

"In the city, we have gotten as far as dealing with drawing up project conditions. We are in connection with different specialists, environmental architects and music experts, on how to renew the complex. For example, we would like to know about the acoustics of the are near the stands, does it need to be fixed. If the state would give us the land, we could begin with construction at the end of the year," Klandorf penned.

According to the deputy mayor, the obelisk will certainly not be demolished. The city's goal is to build a rainwater system and also create a lighting solution.

Klandorf did not say how much the renovation works will cost in total, as it depends on the projects and procurements. There have however been talks of €4-5 million.

Klandorf believed the government would eventually transfer the unreformed state land will eventually be handed over to the city, but Tallinn will begin renovations regardeless. "The obelisk is in very bad condition, it is in danger of collapsing, we fenced it off, but will not keep someone in guard there," Klandorf said.

He hopes that an agreement is possible in change of ownership of plots of land, the city government is also hoping that the state would allocate funds to renovate the memorial. "We are not talking about the memorial's content and historical background, I am speaking of it as a landmark that can be seen from afar when coming to port on a ship," Klandorf said.

The Maarjamäe memorial stands on Pirita Road, between the Lasnamäe ridge and Tallinn Bay. It was erected to commemorate those who had fallen defending the Soviet Union in World War Two. The memorial ensemble was designed by architect Allan Murdmaa and sculptor Matti Varik, who received an architectural award for the design.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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