Gallery: Controversial Viljandi statue finally removed

A controversial monument to a famous Estonian singer and musician has been taken apart and removed from its site in the South Estonian town of Viljandi, a little over a year after it was first erected.

The statue, to Jaak Joala (1950-2014), hit trouble right from the start, mainly due to objections from the singer's widow, Maire Joala, on the use of her late husband's likeness and requested alterations to the edifice.

The statue had been encased in a plywood box, at Maire Joala's request, for almost the entire duration since its unveiling, on the last day of 2020, while Viljandi city government finally ruled on its removal from the site, in a park on Posti street, earlier this week.

The removal work was carried out by the city government's maintenance firm.

Designed by Mati Karmin, Viljandi city government put up €50,000 towards its construction, while NGO Meie Viljandi provided a further €22,000.

The latter organization's head, Harri Juhani Aaltonen, says the NGO has a legitimate expectation to be refunded.

A native of Viljandi and considered one of the "three tenors" of Estonia (the other two being Ivo Linna and Tõnis Mägi), Joala's fame for much of his career spread far beyond his native Estonia, and across the Soviet Union, as it was. Following Estonia's independence in 1991, Joala performed for Estonian audiences primarily.

He tended to shun the limelight in the final years of his life.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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