A Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) MP was one of two men who hoisted the former Soviet flag of the Estonian SSR up a flagpole attached to a building in Tallinn's Old Town early on Saturday morning, portal Delfi reports.
The MP, Jaak Valge, is also a noted historian – Valge told Delfi himself (link in Estonian) that he was one of the two involved, as seen on a security camera, in placing the flag outside the Writer's House (Kirjanike maja) on Harju 1.
Valge added that he simply aided the other individual by carrying and holding in place a stepladder, and was unaware of what his partner in the incident had planned to do.
The flag was removed four-and-a-half hours later, though Valge says that he was not present for that act.
"Early Saturday morning at 5:03 a.m., men put the flag of the Estonian SSR on the building at 1 Harju St. in Tallinn. At 9:29 a.m., the same men took the flag down," the police said.
A Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) statement issued Saturday read: "At 5.03 a.m. on Saturday morning [of July 22], men placed the flag of the Estonian SSR on the building located at Harju 1, in Tallinn. At 9.29 a.m., the same men took the flag down."
The PPA is appealing to the public for information, and can be contacted on 58871437.
EKRE MP Jaak Valge told Delfi that: "I was walking around the town, and an individual approached me, asking for help. As a helpful person, came to his aid," adding that the other man was unknown to him.
"Once I realized that the individual who had asked for help planned to place this flag there, this immediately created an association [with the incident] that perhaps this sends some sort of message," he went on.
The flag was put in place next to a bas-relief of writer Juhan Smuul (1922-1971), while security footage stills show Valge at one point carrying a step ladder, later steadying it while the other man attached the flag – this seemed to be wrapped in black plastic bag while in the man's hands, and also came replete with its own flagpole (see images).
Valge also told Postimees (link in Estonian) that he had not actively and knowingly taken part in flying the Soviet flag from the building, and had simply helped an unknown individual by carrying a step-ladder.
Valge also says that he did not take part in removing the flag, when this was done four-and-a-half hours later.
ERR reports that Valge has previously expressed public regret that the Smuul bas-relief remains in place on the writer's building wall, given that Smuul, at one point secretary of the board of the Union of Soviet Writers, took part in the 1949 deportation of Estonians.
A PPA spokesperson told Postimees that proceedings have been initiated in relation tot he incident, under the section of the Penal Code referring to prohibited symbols.
The PPA on Saturday contacted Valge, who agreed to report to them next month to be interviewed about the incident.
The PPA adds it is still awaiting information on who the other individual involved may be.
Publicly displaying the Estonian SSR flag and other relics of the Soviet occupation of Estonia is an illegal act, while the law on this area has been tightened in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine by the successor state to the Soviet Union (as stated in that country's own Constitution), the Russian Federation.
The flag of the Estonian SSR was, like those of all other constituent republics, based on the familiar yellow hammer-and-sickle on a red background. A further detail was a band of blue waves, presumably representing Estonia's lengthy coastline, which decorated the lower half of the design.
The present-day flag of Belarus, introduced in 1995 by the Alexander Lukashenko regime, is in fact a modified version of the Belarusian SSR flag.
The Estonian SSR flag was first approved during the 1940 Soviet occupation of Estonia, making an unwelcome return with the second period of occupation starting in late 1944 (the flag's final, official version was approved in 1953, the year Stalin died).
This flag used to fly atop Pikk Hermann tower in Tallinn, as well as at plenty of other locations, while public display of the Estonian blue-black-white remained strictly forbidden inside occupied Estonia and the rest of the Soviet Union.
The Soviet flag was finally taken down, for the last time, on the evening of February 23, 1989, replaced by the Estonian flag in time for Independence Day.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael
Source: Delfi, Postimees