The removal of the Soviet war memorial in the Raadi Park in Tartu does not require the permission of the National Heritage Board (Muinsuskaitseamet), as the monument is not protected.
The Raadi monument is a grave which is declared a monument by the National Heritage Board. According to the Protection of War Graves Act, the permission of the National Heritage Board is not required for the reburial of the remains contained in it and the removal of the monument from public sight.
Regarding reinterring human remains, the act says that this can be done with relics if the grave is located in an unsuitable place, i.e., in a park or other green area, or in a densely populated area outside the cemetery. This is also the case in places where mass events take place or facilities not to do with graves are located, or in other places where a war grave cannot be treated with dignity.
Aadu Must, the former chairman of Tartu city council, told ERR that Soviet propaganda undoubtedly took advantage of these war graves and the issue is acute not just in Estonia. However, it is important that the war on monuments does not turn into a war against the fallen.
"The main thing to remember is that the people who have died deserve respect and honor. At one time, French President [Georges] Pompidou visited Stalingrad, Russia, and, to the surprise of the Russians, laid wreaths also at the German soldiers graves, mourning them as victims of fascism. But of course each grave has its own story," said Must, and added: "When the graves become objects of propaganda, if they are glorified as some kind of supremacy, occupation or something like that, then, of course, things have to be set right."
Must said that the regulation of war graves is complicated and requires delicacy, which cannot be done gallop pace. The state and local authorities must resolve these issues calmly and with respect.
"At the moment, I am not familiar with the architectural project of my dear hometown , but I am of the opinion that things have always been done in Tartu thoughtfully, calmly, with cultural awareness, and I hope today the same is the case again."
On May 9, the mayor of Tartu Urmas Klaas (Reform) and the chairman of the city council Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa), appealed to the minister of defense and the minister of culture to make decisions to rebury the remains buried in the park around the Raadi Soviet Monument and to relocate the monument.
Editor: Kristina Kersa