Narva council to decide next week on whether to sue state over tank removal

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

Opposition parties in the eastern city of Narva are to decide next week whether to take the state to court over the removal and relocation of a Soviet-era tank, used as a war memorial and which had been in place just outside the town. Before making the decision, the city's government has been summonsed to a meeting with the prime minister, in Tallinn, while an additional issue is the use of the Russian language at city council sessions.

Narva city council chairman Vladimir Žavoronkov told ERR Wednesday that: "The [Narva] council will hold an meeting on an extraordinary basis on September 7, after which we will decide what to do."

This session is to be preceded by a meeting of the city executive, with Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform), in the Stenbock house in Tallinn, where, Žavoronkov said, it is hoped that consensus will be met.

The removal of the tank, on August 17, and its relocation in a museum near Tallinn, happened on the prime minister's orders after the city's council fudged the issue.

Žavoronkov said that:  "This is the first time ever that the prime minister invites the city leaders of Narva to the Stenbock house, which is a great honor, and bodes well for us."

"Narva is also interested in having strong cooperation with the state, so that the situation that was the case a few weeks ago does not recur. This would not be in the interests of either the city or the state," he continued.

Žavoronkov noted that he also hoped agreement would be reached on the working language of Narva's city council chambers, which legally-speaking should be Estonian – since the city has not formally applied for an exemption – but in practice is often Russian.

"We know that Estonian is the state language in Estonia, but we hope that we can also find a common language," Žavoronkov added.

Žavoronkov had previously said that the motivation for taking the state to court was to get legal clarification on the basis on which the state had acted.

The city's mayor, Katri Raik, opposes any legal action and has said she will resign if the city council takes the state to court.

In office is Katri Raik's electoral list, following last October's local elections, and, until recently, Eesti 200, via its single councilor, Denis Larchenko, who quit the coalition the day after the tank was removed.

In opposition are all other parties and electoral lists, including the Center Party, which was once dominant in the overwhelmingly Russian-speaking border town.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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