Changing street names in the border town of Narva away from those associated with the Soviet Union holds local residents' attention far less than day-to-day issues such as rises in heating costs in winter, the town's mayor, Katri Raik, says.
The renaming might take time given the conservative nature of many of the townspeople, Raik added, "but it will come," she told Vikerraadio Friday.
"This is currently more a topic for the rest of Estonia than it is for Narva," she added, noting that a recent city council vote opposed to the change was attended by fewer than half of the 31 local councilors (10 voted against the name change).
The city government will have replaced the street signage in question by mid-month September, she added.
Raik said: "We are in the process of replacing the public signs; we have experience with the Tiimann and Dauman signage. We're not talking about a major expense, between €5,000 and €7,000," she went on.
Earlier this year, two Narva streets named after local Communist leaders Albert-August Tiimann and Ancis Dauman were indeed renamed.
On the other hand, the city council recently voted against renaming four other streets, namely Aleksei Yuhhanovi, Arsenti Bastrakovi, Igor Grafovi, and Mihhail Gorbatši.*
While the renaming of streets and installing the signage and making any other changes necessary will be carried out by the City of Narva, the work would be paid for by the Ministry of the Interior, Raik added.
Raik also said that should a government plan to remove the right of Russian citizens to vote in local elections in Estonia – a right granted to permanent residents – would lead to every third person in Narva losing the vote.
This, too, was a more significant issue than that of street naming, along with heating prices, which may double this fall and winter, Raik said.
Raik added that the proportion of residents who would lose the right to vote if the government's plans come to fruition would be even higher in nearby Sillamäe.
One other street name in Narva has been successfully named. It had previously been named after the 1944 Battle of Narva, which took place as Soviet forces retook Estonia that year.
*Estonian street names use the genitive form, so for instance the streets named after Tiimann and Dauman were named "Tiimani" and "Daumani", hence the morphological changes to those individuals' names. Estonian spelling conventions also apply to Russian-origin names, which can be different from how they are rendered into English.
Editor: Andrew Whyte