New owner of Pärnu villa formerly used by Yuri Andropov plans big changes
Work on a villa near Pärnu which formerly served as a holiday home used by Soviet leader Yuri Andropov is to see a transformation in the hands of its new owners, albeit within the confines of its heritage protection status.
Designed by noted Estonian architects, the property is known as Villa Andropoff, after the Soviet leader of the same name, albeit with an alteration to the spelling, and is situated at Valgeranna, West of Pärnu City.
Terje Luure, advisor at the Pärnu County heritage board, told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) Monday that: "It is quite significant that it has received monument status, since there are not too many strong examples of Estonian architecture from this period, which are under protection."
This meant that the external facades, for instance are not obscured by later work, she added.
The property has lain empty for several years, and requires plenty of renovation work, Luure said, adding that heritage protection requirements stated that the exterior cannot be altered.
In any case, the new owner, Estonian firm Magicom puhkekeskus, is on the same page here and does not have any desire to change the facades in any case, she said.
The property was provided as a holiday home for high-level Soviet functionaries, including as noted Yuri Andropov, de facto leader of the Soviet Union from 1982 to 1984.
After a period of Finnish ownership, the building is again under Estonian ownership, and was placed under heritage protection from 2020.
Magicom puhkekeskus chief Madis Mägi agreed that the property was one-of-a-kind, though would also require much investment.
Mägi told AK that: "These two buildings are under heritage protection and are great gems of architecture, but they require investment. The place needs a little boost. /.../ Once that is done, we will start collecting ideas and designing. We have talked with heritage protection, the city of Pärnu, architects and designers."
One of the first changes concerns the property's name, Mägi added, which will be changed to "Ehe".
"The buildings are genuine, the nature is genuine, the people who visit here will be genuine. We really want to make it here a very authentic and intense place," he added.
The resort is prime seashore real estate, encompassed by forest on three sides.
The main building was designed by architect Raine Karp, while an adjacent building used as a private cinema by occupants was designed by Meeli Truu (1946-2013).
The practice of rewarding those in the Soviet system's good books with a dacha, a country retreat, is a well known one, and occupied Estonia would have been seen as a desirable location to many.
Yuri Andropov (1914-1984) turned back toward a more hard-line approach during his short tenure as Soviet leader, following the period of detente of the 1970s. He was ambassador to Hungary during the Soviet invasion of that country in 1956, and was similarly instrumental in suppressing the democratic uprising that took place in then-Czechoslovakia, in 1968, when he was chair of the KGB
He remained head of the KGB right up until his appointment as Communist Party secretary general, though his final years were dogged by ill health.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael
Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera'