Photos: Crowd gathers around Narva's Soviet tank monument Wednesday evening
A crowd of around 100 people gathered around the Soviet tank moment in Narva on Wednesday evening following rumors that the tank would be removed at 5 p.m.
ERR's Jüri Nikolajev reported from the site that by 6:30 p.m., around 100 people had gathered at the site of the monument, where they just stood or sat around.
"No kind of demonstration is taking place; this was just a spontaneous gathering," Nikolajev described.
"This was because a rumor spread somewhere in town or someone had heard today that the tank would be removed at 5 p.m. today," he explained. "No one can say exactly where that info came from or who had spread it. In any case, people started gathering at the tank in order to protect it from being removed. Now they're standing there and waiting to see if anyone is going to show up with a crane."
At 9 p.m., the scene at the tank was pretty much unchanged, with around 100 people still peacefully spending time around the tank, he reported.
Police patrols are on the scene as well. According to Nikolajev, the police aren't intervening because the people there are peaceful, no one is giving speeches and no one is demonstrating.
"In other words, a quiet, peaceful, but slightly anxious gathering of people in anticipation," he described.
Narva Mayor Katri Raik (SDE), meanwhile, told ERR that this was a provocation.
"The PPA has confirmed that this is a provocation," Raik said. "And I have been in touch with the Government Office. So this is a provocation. There were no plans whatsoever to remove the tank tonight. This was a call [to gather] that originated on social media."
The mayor added that this gathering of people illustrates how complex of a topic the tank is for the Northeastern Estonian border city of Narva.
"The Government of the Republic is discussing the matter of Soviet monuments tomorrow, and at my request, leaders of the city council's factions are convening tomorrow to discuss how we will go forward with these matters in the city of Narva," she said.
In a post on social media on Wednesday, the City of Narva called on people not to submit to provocations, confirming that rumors that the tank monument will be dismantled Wednesday evening or night are incorrect.
Some people present at the site nonetheless said that they intend to remain there all night.
Known colloquially simply as the Narva tank, "Tank T-34" is a monument located on the left bank of the Narva River marking the spot where Soviet forces crossed the river to repel occupying German forces from the city.
It is located approximately halfway between Narva-Jõesuu and Narva's city center in Siivertsi.
Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets (SDE) has said that the tank must be removed, but that it must be removed with consideration for the feelings of Narva residents who use the monument as a place to commemorate loved ones.
According to Läänemets, handling the removal of the Narva tank is a committee dedicated to handling Soviet monuments convened under the Government Office, which is slated to submit a corresponding proposal to the Estonian government.
In a move criticized by Isamaa chairman Helir-Valdor Seeder as turning the tank into a bargaining chip, the interior minister simultaneously intends to submit a proposal to the government for a support package for the city of Narva, which may include financial support for the renovation of Narva Hospital, rental housing or support for household heating bills.
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Editor: Aili Vahtla