State may step in on Sillamäe, Narva street name changes

Mihhail Rumjantsevi tänav in Sillamäe, one of the streets whose names may be changed by the state.
Mihhail Rumjantsevi tänav in Sillamäe, one of the streets whose names may be changed by the state. Source: Dmitri Fedotkin / ERR

If two northeastern Estonian towns' local governments do not change the names of streets currently honoring figures from the Soviet occupation of Estonia, the state may have to step in, Postimees reports.

The Ida-Viru County cities of Sillamäe and Narva are the two municipalities which have shown an unwillingness to follow the Estonian government's proposal to change any remaining street names which are associated with the occupying Soviet regime, Postimees reported on its English-language page, citing regional daily Põhjarannik.

Margit Mitt, adviser to the Ministry of Finance local government policy department, said the minister responsible for the policy sector can assess the resolution from Sillamäe municipality and the objections to the place name change presented there, once this has been passed on to the ministry – the Place Names Act has it that this minister can decide whether or not to apply the procedure provided for by the law.

The law does not require the minister discuss the matter with the Place Names Board, nor does it provide for a specific deadline by which the minister must decide on the assignment of a new place name, in lieu of local government doing so.

Sillamäe municipality on Tuesday unanimously rejected a proposal from the Ministry of Finance to change a street named after Mihhail Rumjantsev, a Sillamäe resident who fell in the 1980s Soviet War in Afghanistan, while

the city of Narva, after a dispute lasting many years, changed two streets named after Bolshevik revolutionaries who fought against Estonia, though it has refused to do the same in respect of seven more streets, whose current names are associated with the Soviet regime.

The original Postimees piece is here. Pohjarannik also belongs to the Postimees Group.

Last year, the state had to intervene to resolve an impasse on a World War Two-era Soviet tank which was located just North of Narva, and functioned as a war memorial. The tank was relocated to the national war museum near Tallinn, after local government had been unable to deal with the issue.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has brought the issue of relics, large and small, from the Soviet occupation, back into the spotlight, and expedited the pace at which these are being removed from the landscape.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: Postimees

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