Narva city council opposition plotting to overthrow Mayor Katri Raik

Katri Raik.
Katri Raik. Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR

Political developments brewing in the Estonian border town of Narva suggest a change in government, ERR reports, where the opposition is planning a vote of no-confidence in the mayor, Katri Raik.

Raik told ERR she had been unaware of the motion, though it did not come as a huge surprise to her.

"I was not aware of it, but I can believe it. Certain movements inside the city government suggest it," she said.

Raik, a former interior minister, is a member of the Social Democratic Party (SDE), but heads up her own electoral list, Narva Tulevik. She announced late last year that she would not be running at the March 5 Riigikogu elections, and would remain in Narva, to promote its long-term prospects.

The opposition Narva Heaks electoral alliance has been gathering strength which, ERR reports, is evidence of the impending attempt at a legitimate coup.

Narva Heaks leader, Aleksei Jevgrafov, told ERR that there would indeed be a vote of no-confidence going ahead at the city council next Thursday, both against Raik and against her two deputy mayors.

He also spoke frankly about what he saw the raison d'etre of a political opposition.

"Anything is possible; an opposition's role is to take power," he said.

Mayor Raik struck a similarly pragmatic tone, telling ERR that votes of no-confidence and the like are part and parcel of political life, even when relations with the opposition need be nothing less than cordial.

"At the same time, it cannot be said that cooperation with the opposition has been poor; discussions have been constructive," Raik said.

Raik would not be drawn on the prospects of the no-confidence vote passing or not, and said she was looking forward to Thursday's council meeting.

Jevgrafov, a former Narva mayor who is running for the Center Party at the Riigikogu elections next month, said that the addition of one councilor, Jana Kondrašova, who was elected via Raik's list at the 2021 local elections but left over disagreements over her leadership, is a boon for the opposition. "This demonstrates that her former colleagues are also not satisfied with the work of the mayor, to put it mildly," he said.

Raik picked up 4,512 votes at the local elections in October 2021, becoming mayor in December.

Electoral lists are a phenomenon peculiar to local government elections and municipal governance itself, and do not feature in Riigikogu elections. At the local level, they form a region-specific alternative to the mainstream parties, which also generally run in local elections in Estonia's 79 municipalities, and likely reflect the fact that local politics is more personality- than party-driven.

The large majority of Narva-dwellers speak Russian as their first language.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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