PPA interrupt Narva public gathering where banned insignia were displayed

Narva Town Hall under reconstruction, August 2022
Narva Town Hall under reconstruction, August 2022 Source: Michael Cole

Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) officials interrupted a gathering in the eastern border town of Narva Saturday, on the grounds that symbols glorifying the current Russian invasion of Ukraine were on display.

While the gathering was public, it also violated other requirements for such events, while misdemeanor proceedings were instigated against the meeting's organizer and two other participants, PPA spokesperson Liis Krigul said.

Urmas Elmi, operations manager at the PPA's Eastern Prefecture, said that while the public meeting was registered with the PPA, it came under heightened scrutiny, to head off potential provocative incidents.

Elmi said: "Our goal was to ensure public order at the meeting and to ensure that the event passed peacefully and without disturbance."

"We interrupted the public gathering, as individuals participating in it displayed war symbols, but were not willing to remove them," he went on.

The organizer, a 52-year-old-woman who for legal reasons cannot be named, had misdemeanor proceedings initiated against her on the basis of the relevant section of Estonia's Penal Code, which deals with the violation of the requirements for holding a public meeting. 

Additionally, misdemeanor proceedings were initiated against two people who publicly displayed military insignia, under the section Penal Code which relates to incitement to hatred. 

Urmas Elmi added that: "With every public meeting, we assess risks and threats to public order, and we talked to the organizers of the meeting. We had previously communicated with the leader of today's event, explaining the potential hazards and reminding them that the use of war symbols and incitement to hatred are not permitted in Estonia. We also explained that the organizer of the meeting is responsible to adhere to all the requirements established when organizing a public meeting."

In general since the legislation relating to insignia, symbols and other displays which can be seen as glorifying Russian militarism, the PPA has been on heightened alert and liaises with those displaying such emblems in the first instance, ERR reports, explaining the provocative effect that such examples can have.

If the individual does not agree to remove the symbol from public display, misdemeanor proceedings are initiated.

Narva has become a focal point in this arena both due to its majority Russian-speaking populace and the recent removal by the state of a controversial tank monument commemorating World War Two. The tank is now in a museum just outside Tallinn.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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