Poll: Third of Russian-speakers in Estonia back relocating Soviet monuments

Soviet war graves at Tehumardi.
Soviet war graves at Tehumardi. Source: Margus Muld/ERR

Around a third of Estonian residents of 'other nationalities', meaning in practice predominantly Russian-speakers, now think that Soviet-era monuments should be relocated to museums and away from public places, according to a recent survey.

The proportion among residents of "other nationalities" who supported re-interring human remains currently buried in Soviet war graves was even higher, at over half, according to the survey, conducted by pollsters Turu-uuringute AS on behalf of the government office.

The share of those who agree with both views, and among both native Estonians and ethnic Russian-speakers had risen compared with a similar survey conducted two months ago.

The latest survey came after the momentum for relocating or removing Soviet war memorials had picked up pace in Estonia, and just before the government ruled that one particular monument, that of a T-34 tank which had been on display just outside Narva, should be moved to a war museum – where it is now housed in fact.

Turu-uuringute: Significant rise in support among Russian speakers for Soviet memorials to be relocated to museums

In answering the question: "Monuments bearing Soviet symbols are better suited to museums or memorial institutions than to public spaces." , 84 percent of native Estonian respondents said they agreed, up from 80 percent in June.

The figure for "other nationalities" saw a considerably larger rise over the same time-frame, as 34 percent agreed with the statement, just over one third, compared with 20 percent in June.

Similarly, the proportion of respondents who disagreed with the statement fell, to nine percent, from 12 percent, among native Estonians, and to 53 percent, from 60 percent, among those of "other nationalities", June to August.

Turu-uuringute: Over half of Russian-speakers in Estonia support dignified re-interring of war graves

As to the statement: "The remains of those who died in the war should be reburied respectfully and dignified from a public space to a cemetery, following international conventions," the proportion of people who supported this view, either partly or wholly, rose from 79 percent to 83 percent between June and August, among native Estonians.

Again, among respondents of other nationalities, predominantly Russian-speakers, the rise was considerably more marked, from 39 percent in June, to 55 percent in August.

Similarly, fewer Estonians (9 percent in August compared with 12 percent in June) and even fewer respondents of other nationalities (down to 34 percent, from 43 percent two months ago), disagreed with the above statement, either wholly or partly.

Turu-uuringute: Soviet symbols on graves should be replaced with neutral markers

Finally, the results for the statement: "Memorials bearing Soviet symbols on war graves must be replaced by neutral and respectful grave markers for those who died in the Second World War," were similar, with a slight rise in the number of respondents who agree among native Estonians (69 percent to 73 percent) between June and August, plus a near-doubling among respondents from other nationalities, over the same time period (from 17 percent to 30 percent).

The proportion of Estonians who disagreed with the statement remained virtually static (18 percent in August, 19 percent in June), but saw a larger fall among respondents of other nationalities (65 percent in June, to 57 percent in August, Turu-uuringute says.

The government office commissioned Turu-uuringute AS to conduct the survey, over the period August 10-14. Turu-uuringute says it polled 1,256 people.

Please note "other nationalities" refers overwhelmingly to Russian-speaking people living in Estonia, whose families of origin could have come from other parts of the former Soviet Union, as well as from Russia, Belarus or Ukraine.

"Other nationalities" should not be taken to include residents from further afield.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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