Narva councilor: I hope prime minister will hear us on tank situation

Aleksei Jevgrafov.
Aleksei Jevgrafov. Source: Sergei Stepanov

An opposition councilor in the eastern town of Narva says that despite hopes that dialogue with Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) will prove fruitful, councilors there still plan to go to court against the state, over the removal of a controversial Soviet-era tank monument.

Ahead of the meeting, to take place at the seat of government, the Stenbock House, in Tallinn, Aleksei Jevgrafov, a former mayor of the city and also chair of the Narva Heritage Society said: "I hope that this meeting will be different than that when the prime minister visited Narva. The latter was a monologue on the part of the prime minister, who did not try to find an accord with us. I hope that tomorrow (Tuesday – ed.) we will be heard. We will try to listen to each other and understand what we are talking about," Jevgrafov told ERR Monday.

A total of 17 Narva councilors are attending the meeting in Tallinn, while the next full council session in Narva is the nex day, and will see opposition deputies present their draft bill tasking the Narva City Government with taking the state government to court over the monument's relocation.

"If the council adopts the decision, the city government will have to go to court," said Jevgrafov.

Jevgrafov said that the historical heritage commission also proposed that Narva Mayor Katri Raik (SDE) also go to court, but the latter refused. 

Jevgrafov was also critical of opposition Center Party deputy Mihhail Stalnuhhin's remarks over the weekend, that the state had acted as "Nazis" in removing the tank, which took place August 17, the day after Kallas had visited the town.

Jevgrafov said: "I don't support [Stalnuhhin's words], because nationalism does not equate to Nazism or fascism. These are different things. I think those words were too harsh."

Stenbock House media adviser Jevgenia Värä told ERR that the purpose of the Stenbock House meeting was information exchange and cooperation between state and the local government.

She said: "At the previous meeting, the focus was on the suitability of monuments bearing Soviet war symbols being in the Estonian public space; the purpose of Tuesday's meeting is to discuss future plans."

Jevgrafov said he did not expect the tank to be returned to Narva from its new home, the National War Museum, in Viimsi, on the back of Tuesday's meeting.

The opposition councilors wish to ascertain whether the government acted legally in removing and relocating the tank, adding that if they won the case, which would also take in Soviet memorials removed from central Narva on the same day, the tank need not be returned to its original home, a plinth just north of Narva, but could be housed in a museum instead.

The tank was a World War Two-era T-34 model, and had been placed just outside Narva, as a war memorial, over 50 years ago.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine from February 24 brought such installations into scrutiny again, and several other monuments have also been removed across Estonia.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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