The Center Party has expeled MP and Narva City Council member Mihhail Stalnuhhin from the party, following a board meeting in Tallinn Tuesday evening.
Stalnuhhin made remarks at the weekend concerning the state's removal and relocation of a Soviet-era tank, used as a war memorial, calling the prime minister and the government "Nazis" and "fascists" over their actions.
Party chair Jüri Ratas posted on his social media account Tuesday evening that: "Today, after hearing from Riigikogu MP Mihhail Stalnuhhin, the Center Party's board decided to expel him from the party.
"This decision was due to his inappropriate statements in an address to the Estonian state and government," Ratas continued in the post.
"Every member of any political party, particularly a Riigikogu MP, must comprehend the weight and meaning of their words. Estonia is a free and democratic country, where everyone has the right to their own opinion, but this was a dangerous and wrong statement, which does not match with the values of the Central Party," Ratas added.
"Mihhail Stalnuhhin was not able to convince the board of his veracity, nor did we convince him," the Center chair continued.
"The Center Party stands for everybody in Estonia, regardless of their mother tongue, and we all have to work together to see a future together. It is the duty of all politicians to unite society in this difficult time, not to tear it apart and pit communities against one another. Unfortunately, Mihhail Stalnuhhin was wrong about that," the post went on.
On leaving the Center Party's office after the meeting (see gallery above), Stalnuhhin told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) that he had no intentions of joining another political party.
"This is absolutely accurate, what I am telling you, that I will never participate in any political party again," Stalnuhhin told AK.
As to if he had any regrets over his statements, Stalnuhhin said that he had none, and also denied reports that he had issued an apology to the Center Party board.
Stalnuhhin added that he will not leave the Riigikogu, and will decide on a case-by-case basis on whether to vote with his former party on a bill or any other vote, or not.
The development means that Center now has 25 MPs at the Riigikogu, and Stalnuhhin will sit as an independent.
Meanwhile in Narva, the local Center Party branch has expressed support for Stalnuhhin, and Jüri Ratas has pledged to travel there to meet with party representatives on the issue.
Earlier in the evening, at 6.30 p.m., after one and a half hours had passed with no decision, Ratas had said members had many questions for Stalnuhhin and were seeking an explanation for his comments.
In a Russian-language video posted on social media, Stalnuhhin called Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) and members of the government "fascists" for removing the T-34 tank monument and other Soviet monuments from Narva.
Ratas condemned the comments on Saturday.
Stalnuhhin is one of the most popular politicians in Narva and was elected to the Riigikogu with 2,653 votes in 2019. This was the second highest number of votes after MEP Yana Toom.
The party received 13,700 votes in total in the Ida-Viru County region at the 2019 general election.
This article was updated with information on the outcome of Tuesday's meetings, and quotes from Jüri Ratas and Mihhail Stalnuhhin.
Editor: Helen Wright, Andrew Whyte