Narva authorities hope to remove tank monument by August 20

The "T-34" tank in Narva. Source: Jenny Va / ERR

Authorities in the eastern border town of Narva say they hope to move a controversial World War Two-era tank monument by or on August 20.

The city government said that it aims to carry out this action on its own and without state involvement, but must first get the green-light from the city legislature, which is meeting next Monday to form a committee tasked with overseeing the process.

August 20 also happens to be Restoration of Independence Day in Estonia.

Deputy chair of Narva council Natalia Umarova told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) that: "We are relying on the Local Government Organization Act," in making the decision.

"The [council] session must be announced four days before it takes place. We will stick to that deadline, hence the session being held on Monday, and we will comply with the law. We cannot do anything ahead of the council's decision," Umarova continued.

The city's mayor, Katri Raik, told AK that: "We certaily all understand that there are differing opinions regarding the Narva tank, and not every 'Stanislav' or 'Oleg' is ready for the removal of this tank, nor are they prepared to guard this tank either. We have to understand that."

Narva's population is overwhelmingly Russian-speaking and the tank, actually a replica T-34 situated just north of the city, was a popular gathering spot even before the recent controversy.

As to the removal, Raik said: "We really want to do this as soon as possible pending the council's decision. Indeed, it is my hope that as of August 20, the tank will not be standing where it is today and that its removal will have taken place peacefully, without disruptions, and with public consciences more-or-less placated."

X said that all the represented parties and groups at the city council – Raik's electoral list are in office together with Eesti 200 in a city formerly a stronghold of the Center Party, not in opposition – are unanimous on the removal of the tank and the timescale and manner in which this will be done.

The tank will reportedly be placed in temporary, safe storage, watched over by security cameras, before it is moved once again to its permanent home, likely in a museum.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine from February 24 has brought such monuments and memorials into the public view, with several edifices nationwide having been moved, or in some cases vandalized.

Under current law, monuments such as the Narva tank, which do not have human remains interred nearby as an integral part of the memorial, are a matter for local government, while the state rules on those which do contain graves.

Nonetheless Mayor Raik had appealed for state support in the matter last week, subsequently saying that the decision was for the city alone.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) has consistently said that the monument should be removed as soon as possible.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael

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