Soviet symbols facing removal from public space to be announced Wednesday

Soviet star on the facade of the Sõpruse (
Soviet star on the facade of the Sõpruse ("Friendship") cinema in Tallinn. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The full list of Soviet-era monuments mapped by a government committee and slated for potential removal or replacement will be made public on Wednesday.

The Government Office will announce the list; of 322 Soviet-era memorials, graves, plaques, decorations and other installations, 78 are permitted to remain intact.

The committee which compiled the above list will cease its activities at the end of the month. It had been working for five months.

State Secretary Taimar Peterkop, Asko Kivinuk, who headed up the committee, and historian Meelis Maripuu, will present the results of the mapping process, and will also unveil a neutral grave marker which can replace Soviet-era markers without disturbing the peace of the grave.

While several notable monuments – the Narva tank perhaps the highest profile of them – have been removed, relocated or demolished, the committee had to deal with the hundreds more sites to be found nationwide.

Only Asko Kivinuk had spoken on the topic publicly until now, with other committee members refraining to do so on the grounds of security.

The press conference at which the list will be made public starts at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, November 23, and ERR's online news in Estonia will be livestreaming it.

The list of mapped objects along with recommendations made by the committee will be published on the government office website on the same day.

While the monuments had been in place for decades in many cases, the invasion of Ukraine by the Soviet Union's effective successor state, the Russian Federation, from February onward, brought the issue into the limelight again, as it has done in neighboring Latvia and other countries which were under Soviet occupation, and even in some, such as Finland, which were not.

In the case of installations which have some subjective aesthetic value and which consequently may give rise to dispute, a government committee, which will also contain representatives of the cultural and heritage sphere, will make the decision.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mirjam Mäekivi

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