Five members of the Narva regional board have quit EKRE in the past month, led by its chairman, following EKRE support for draft legislation banning May 9 demonstrations and relevant statements by party leaders.
"Know that Russian-speaking people also have a place in EKRE," Narva resident Dmitri Gussev said at the party congress last summer. Gussev joined in March of 2021 and soon became the face of EKRE in Narva. He quit the party a year later. The catalyst was an EKRE bill that aimed for the removal of Soviet monuments, "Aktuaalne kaamera" news reported.
"My team and I always fought for the consolidation of Estonian and Russian-speaking residents. When we joined, we went over our red lines with [then chairman] Mart Helme. They included all manner of foulmouthed stabs aimed at the Russian-speaking part of the population and that we shouldn't be fighting monuments. Everyone agreed at the time," Gussev said.
Most members of the board of EKRE's Narva arm have left the party in the past month, led by chairman Aleksandr Pahhomov. While none of them wished to comment, they all had the same reason. The party's wish to ban May 9 celebrations and remove Soviet monuments.
EKRE leader Martin Helme said that only a few members have left the party in Ida-Viru County and that EKRE will not be changing its worldview to keep them.
"Red Army insignia and celebrating its occupation [of Estonia] is insulting for Estonians. We understand that the Russians have a different understanding, blood ties to those soldiers (who fought in WWII – ed.), but celebrating May 9 is offensive from our point of view, which is something the locals need to keep in mind," Helme said.
EKRE's Ida-Viru district board will meet to discuss what to do with the now leaderless Narva office next week. EKRE has roughly 100 members in the border city.
Editor: Marcus Turovski