Ratas to Narva Center group: Tank not fit for public space

Center Party chair Jüri Ratas at the Opinion Festival in Paide on Saturday. August 13, 2022.
Center Party chair Jüri Ratas at the Opinion Festival in Paide on Saturday. August 13, 2022. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Center Party chairman Jüri Ratas has told Tatjana Stolfat, head of the Center group on Narva City Council, that the Soviet tank monument on the bank of the Narva River is not fit for the public space and must be removed in cooperation with the Estonian government.

"I remain of the opinion that the tank as a weapon of war is not suitable for the public space., nor is it an appropriate memorial," Ratas told ERR on Monday.

"The government must remove the tank in cooperation with Narva city authorities and find an appropriate place for it," he said. "I have expressed my relevant position both publicly as well as to the head of the Center group on Narva City Council."

Due to a lack of consensus, Narva City Council on Monday opted not to make a decision regarding the fate of the "Tank T-34" monument. An hour before Monday's city council meeting began, the opposition Center group and the Narva Heaks group submitted proposed amendments according to which the tank would remain in place at its current location, be covered up, and Narva city government thereafter tasked with handling it from there.

Center Party representative Mihhail Stalnuhhin told Estonian online news portal Delfi (link in Estonian) on Monday afternoon that they have not consented to the Narva tank being removed from its current spot.

"It isn't true that everyone agrees to it being removed," Stalnuhhin said. "You've fallen victim to propaganda. What was observed was an agreement to discuss a way out of a possible conflict. There was not one word about everyone being in agreement."

Denis Larchenko, head of the Narva chapter of Eesti 200, said that the Center Party and Narva Heaks group leader Aleksei Jevgrafov had let the people of Narva down.

"The decision by the Center Party and Aleksei Jevgrafov's team to come out with the demand that the tank be left where it is two hours before the Narva City Council meeting is irresponsible and cynical," Larchenko said. "A week ago, both had signed an appeal to the prime minister which included a clear agreement that Narva would decide the tank removal issue for itself. We had an agreement in the coalition, and we had an agreement with the opposition. It was extraordinary for Narva to achieve a cross-group agreement regarding such an important matter of values."

According to Larchenko, the Center Party made a huge historic mistake on Monday.

"They had the opportunity to demonstrate that they want to be responsible for Narva's own decisions, but they proved to be cowards and started counting their political votes," he said. "They had the opportunity to show that they've changed and understand what the situation is after February 24. But they haven't changed; they still haven't fully understood the war going on in Ukraine, and they're dragging Narva into that swamp along with them. It was not Narva and Estonia's future but rather Mihhail Stalnuhhin's votes in the upcoming Riigikogu elections that proved most important in making a decision."

'Tank T-34'

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, within the borders of the city of Narva.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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