Commuters call for Russian announcements to be scrapped at Tallinn station

Balti jaam
Balti jaam Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, passengers and passersby at Tallinn's Balti jaam station have become increasingly annoyed by announcements made in Russian. They are now calling for them to be stopped.

Public announcements are broadcast in both Estonian and Russian at Tallinn's biggest train station, enabling passengers to find their correct train, Monday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported.

But since February, passengers have started to make complaints.

Estonian citizen Eleen Lindmaa told AK: "I simply do not understand why I, who was born in a free Estonia, must listen to Russian every day. It's completely incomprehensible to me. Especially when there are information boards and [train operator] Elron's website is in Russian. For me, it is completely unnecessary, excessive, incomprehensible."

Lindmaa said she would prefer announcements in Estonian and English at passenger hubs, which would help tourists find their way.

At times the complaints have been very emotional, Veiko Sinimäe, manager of the notification system, told the show.

"They threatened to gather around the perimeter with placards, but we were still able to give reasonable answers. A new solution is still in the works, so that in the future it will be in both Estonian and English," he said.

It is not easy to replace the Russian notifications with English versions in the current system, Go Wire, Sinimäe said. But he said they could be switched off tomorrow if train operator Elron requested it.

In a written statement, Elron said Russian notifications are needed because the company needs to reach as many customers as possible every day.

"We have to consider that 211 nationalities live in Estonia /.../ and about 45 percent of the population communicates in a language other than Estonian," said Elron's Marketing and Communications Manager Katrin Kulderknup.

Elron said Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR) also broadcasts in Russian, as well as in Estonian.

"Presumably for the same reason as why other institutions use languages other than the state language, including Russian," the statement said.

Sinimäe said there are plans to create a centrally managed notification system.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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