Council agrees to remove Estonian singer's statue from Viljandi park

The box surrounding the Jaak Joala statue.
The box surrounding the Jaak Joala statue. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

Viljandi city government agreed on Monday that the controversial statute of legendary Estonian singer and musician Jaak Joala (1950-2014) should be removed from a park in the town.

Since the statue was installed in the park in December 2020 it has caused controversy in the town and for the last several months it has been encased in a wooden box.

Joala's widow, Maire, does not like the cylindrical statue, which bears the crooner's face and hands, sings and has flashing lights, and wants it removed. She told councilors she did not agree such a statue could be made.

The council is not prepared to go to court to keep the monument and has now agreed to remove it from the park on Posti tänav. It will be taken away later this week and kept in storage.

Mayor Madis Timpson, who took office in November, said: "It is wise to draw a line under this saga for now."

The council said it would still like to honor Joala, who is from Viljandi, in some way. The statue was created by MTÜ Viljandi.

Jaak Joala sculpture in Viljandi. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

The pop star was relatively little known in the West but his Soviet-era fame earned him the tagline that he was familiar to "one-sixth of the world's population," and other accolades.

Born in 1950 in Viljandi, Joala saw his career get off to a start in the late 1960s singing with Olav Ehala's Kristallid (Crystals).

In the 1980s, he was dubbed the "Kremlin's Nightingale" for his extensive recording and touring in Russia and the fact that much of his repertoire was Russian in that period. He then turned back to domestic audiences in the re-independence period.

Joala was later considered one of the Three Tenors of Estonia, the others being Tõnis Mägi and Ivo Linna.

Jaak Joala.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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