Narva attempting again to rename streets named for local Communist leaders

Street sign bearing the Daumani tänav name in Narva.
Street sign bearing the Daumani tänav name in Narva. Source: ERR

After several years and now fresh on the heels of the removal of seven Soviet monuments in the city and surrounding areas, the City of Narva is making a fresh attempt at renaming city streets named after Estonian leaders of a Soviet puppet state to claim control over the city more than a century ago.

In accordance with the Place Names Act, no streets in Estonia should be named after individuals who have fought against the Republic of Estonia, something that the Estonian government has reminded Narva of once already. To date, Narva City Council has yet to fulfill this law, and Narva city government is now submitting a third bill for the renaming of city streets to the city council.

"This has been unofficially submitted to the city council," Narva Mayor Katri Raik (SDE) said. "First we'll start discussions with group leaders. There's no point submitting the next difficult bill to the city council that won't pass or will end up relegated to the council chair's bottom desk drawer. That's why we're trying to keep the face of the City of Narva clean and get Daumani tänav and Tiimani tänav renamed this time."

Narva City Council members are aware that opposition over the street names in question cannot go on forever, but the renaming process is becoming increasingly difficult following the removal of several Soviet monuments ⁠— including the "Tank T-34" monument on the bank of the Narva River halfway between Narva-Jõesuu and Narva's city center ⁠— on Tuesday.

"We're currently seeing a sort of emotional shock, an emotional reaction ⁠— certainly, if some sort of poll were conducted here in Narva, I think 90 percent would be against [renaming the streets]," said Narva City Council chair Vladimir Žavoronkov (RÜE).

Minister of Public Affairs Riina Solman (Isamaa) confirmed that the Estonian government has no plans yet to launch a special operation to rename the city streets in question.

"I personally believe that this has to be discussed calmly, that we need to ask city authorities about their vision, and thereafter reach in-house agreements and discuss this among coalition partners," Solman said. "I can't imagine any sort of forcing scenario right now, nor do I have that in mind."

Nonetheless, the minister has a backup bill prepared upon the entry of force of which the state could independently rename Narva's streets.

Tiimann, Dauman leading figures in Soviet puppet state

Ancis Dauman (also Ants Dauman in Estonian, Ancis Daumanis in Latvian) and Albert Tiimann were leading figures in the Commune of the Working People of Estonia (Eesti Töörahwa Kommuun, ETK), a local puppet regime established by Bolshevik forces never recognized by any state beyond the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic (RSFSR) and which claimed the Bolshevik-occupied parts of the Republic of Estonia as its territories during the Estonian War of Independence, Ants Liimets, then Narva city secretary, told daily Postimees (link in Estonian) in December 2018.

According to Liimets, during the ETK's brief rule, 126 people considered a threat to its rule were murdered in Narva, and around 500 were murdered across the territories the regime claimed, including landowners, businessmen, academics and clergy.

Tiiman was an Estonian Communist who served as chairman of the executive committee of Narva under the ETK in 1918-1919, and Dauman, an ethnic Latvian, was a Communist who served as chairman of the War Revolutionary Committee of Narva in 1917 and 1918.

Dauman nonetheless has a paradoxical role in history, however, as he was mayor of Narva at the time Narva and its twin city across the river, Ivangorod, were separated from the St. Petersburg Governorate and incorporated into the Estonian Governorate of the Russian Empire in December 1917, mere months before the independent Republic of Estonia was proclaimed in February 1918.

Ancis Daumani tänav is located in Narva's Pähklimäe District; Albert-August Tiimani tänav is located in the city's Soldina District.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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