Minister calls for rapid change to seven Narva street names

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

Estonian Minister of Public Administration Riina Solman (Isamaa), has given the Narva City Government two weeks to provide details of when the names of seven streets in the city will be changed. The streets' current names are at odds with the cultural and historical understandings of the contemporary Estonian state.

The Ministry of Finance and the Place Names Board, which falls under the responsibility of the minister of public administration, have, on several occasions, drawn the attention of Narva municipality to the names of several streets in the city, which, due to contravening the Place Names Act, should be changed.

"Unfortunately, despite having drawn attention to problematic street names on several occasions, the names of Ancis Daumani tänav and Albert-August Tiimanni tänav remain unchanged," Minister of Public Administration Riina Solman wrote to Narva Mayor Katri Raik.

Solman explained that, in the context of Russia's full-scale military invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, it is of symbolic importance for the Estonian state to remove the names of historical figures associated with the repression and criminal activities of the Soviet occupation, from public space. Solman added, that, it is also necessary to change other place names, which are clearly at odds with modern-day understandings of Estonian history and culture, as soon as possible.

This includes places named after all persons, symbols and events, which opposed the establishment or maintenance of the constitutional order of the Republic of Estonia, as well as those that were against the restoration of Estonian independence.

According to the Ministry of Finance, in addition to Ancis Daumani tänav and Albert-August Tiimanni tänav, there are a further five street names in Narva, which contravene the Place Names Act, making seven in total. The other streets in question are Aleksei Juhhanovi tänav, Arsenti Bastrakovi tänav, Igor Grafovi tänav, Mihhail Gorbatši tänav and 26. Juuli tänav,

Minister of Public Administration Riina Solman has asked the Narva municipality to prioritize the issue, and to make changes to the street names at the earliest opportunity, with the streets' new names required to be consistent with contemporary understandings of Estonian culture and history.

"We would also like to remind you that, in accordance with the Place Names Act, the place name determiner is obliged to initiate the procedure for changing the place name within 30 days of becoming aware of the circumstances mentioned in the Place Names Act, in this case, the unlawfulness of the place name. Therefore, we request feedback within two weeks of receipt of this letter regarding how you plan to proceed with changes to the above-mentioned street names," Solman wrote.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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