Justice, culture ministers agree on terms for removing protected status

Lea Danilson-Järg and Piret Hartman.
Lea Danilson-Järg and Piret Hartman. Source: Raigo Pajula

Justice and culture ministers have agreed on the terms of removing heritage protection from monuments and a draft bill will be put to the Riigikogu in the coming weeks. The process has been at a standstill for a month.

The law will make it possible to more easily remove protected status from monuments that have previously been considered to have cultural value. Changes to the law have arisen in relation to removing Soviet-era monuments after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Minister of Justice Lea Danilson-Järg (Isamaa) and Minister of Culture Piret Hartman (SDE) have been debating the terms of a draft agreement prepared by the Ministry of Justice for several weeks.

In the future, if a municipality wants to remove protected status from an object, it will need to ask the Heritage Protection Board for an assessment. If the local government and the agency do not share the same view then the matter can be decided by a government committee.

The committee's decision will be binding on the culture ministry, Danilson-Järg said.

Hartman said, for the culture ministry, it is very important that the Heritage Protection Board is involved in the process.

The Narva T-34 in its former location, shortly before being removed. An identical model is now to be installed in Ivangorod. Source: Tatjana Gassova/ERR

The justice minister said the draft will probably be sent to the Riigikogu next week.

The bill is also needed so that if a municipality refuses to take down a Soviet monument the state can take action.

Hartman said the issues surrounding the removal of the Soviet tank in Narva have been kept in mind.

"Where the local government did not agree and it was necessary for the state to have its own levers so that it could then act there," she said.

Danilson-Järg laid out the options: "If the municipality itself does not remove the monuments, the state can intervene, both through a government committee and with the minister of justice's supervision. If the municipality does not remove the monument itself, the minister of justice can issue an injunction and if this is not complied with, it is possible to go and remove the monument."

Both ministers said removing Soviet monuments should not be delayed.


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Editor: Marko Tooming, Helen Wright

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