Interior minister: The Narva tank will be gone by August 20
The Narva City Council on Monday opted not to decide the fate of the "Tank T-34" monument, which prompted Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets (SDE) to say that the monument will likely be moved before August 20.
The agenda of the Narva City Council included tasking the city government with relocating the city's controversial tank-monument from public view to an enclosed space, but deputy chair Natalia Umarova unexpectedly said that the tank will not be discussed on Monday.
The majority of the council, led by election coalition Future of Narva, decided to abandon the debate, with Umarova saying that all groups, including the opposition, signed in support of the tank's relocation last week.
The opposition's protest suggested that if the council does not discuss the matter, the state will decide the fate of the monument. Umarova said that members of the council should rest easy, that work is underway, and moved to the next item on the agenda.
ERR correspondent Jüri Nikolajev said that the bill was retracted by its authors, meaning that the council will not be discussing the topic.
The Narva City Council's inability to debate the matter and reach a decision will give the central government free hands to remove the monument, Nikolajev remarked.
The council decided to form a temporary historical legacy committee made up of 15 members that is tasked with coming up with proposals for what to do with historical monuments and place names in Narva by August 31.
Mayor: Narva gave up on making its own decisions
Narva Mayor Katri Raik said at a press conference following the council sitting that while all factions supported the removal of the tank last Monday, the council opted not to be the one to make the call.
"I'm saddened the Narva City Council gave up the chance to decide matters in the city," Raik said, adding that such a serious decision requires consensus, and that negotiations with the opposition will continue.
Läänemets: The tank will be removed by August 20
Head of the Social Democratic Party (SDE), Minister of Internal Affairs Lauri Läänemets said that the government will have to take its initial plan forward.
"The government needs to convene to make the necessary decisions, which will then have to be carried out," Läänemets said.
Läänemets said that the tank will likely be removed by August 20. "I believe it will be done by then," he said.
"I think things will be fine if we can do it and maintain public order, and the government's decision will be executed the way the Narva City Council wanted," Läänemets suggested.
The minister said it is unfortunate the council took a step back and gave up on making the decision.
Katri Raik suggested the government take more time to think about the move as the tank constitutes municipal property. "Do not attach to Narva some special regional status. Narva needs to be able to make decisions over life in the city," the mayor suggested.
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Editor: Marcus Turovski