Some Narva councilors unhappy at renaming of city's streets

Sign on the side of a house on Bastrakovi tänav in Narva.
Sign on the side of a house on Bastrakovi tänav in Narva. Source: Rene Kundla/ERR

Some Narva city councilors are unhappy that Estonian Minster of Regional Affairs Madis Kallas (SDE) ignored the council's decision and has gone ahead with the renaming of four streets in the border town, which currently bear the name of Red Army soldiers. Regional minister Kallas said, that in doing so, he had acted in accordance with the law.

In mid-August, Narva City Council voted against renaming four of the city's streets, which are still named after Red Army soldiers, who died in World War Two. Despite this, Estonian Minster of Regional Affairs Madis Kallas (SDE) has approved a decree to rename five streets in Narva as of September 1.

This week, in a letter sent a letter to the minister, six Narva City Council members said, that Kallas that he ought to have challenged the council's decision in court before approving the order.

"The Narva City Council adopted a decision not to rename the streets and this administrative act is now valid. However, the minister issued his own order, which contradicts our administrative act. The main question is, how this complies with the law," said Narva City Councilor Aleksei Jevgrafov (KF Narva Heaks).

In response, the regional minister said that he had based his decision to adopt the order on the view of the ministry's legal advisers, adding that the ministry has the authority to change street names.

"This is our current position and one that has been repeatedly stated to Narva City Council. We have also undergone a sufficiently long engagement process and listened to all the arguments [regarding the issue]. In our opinion, [the arguments] are not sufficient for these names to remain as they are now," said Kallas.

As chair of Narva City Council's Historical Heritage Committee, Aleksei Jevgrafov continues to maintain that there is no reason to rename streets in the city, which are named after Red Army soldiers.

"The four people who died in the battles were not fighting against the Estonian state, but against Nazi Germany," said Jevgrafov.

According to Jevgrafov, whether Narva city officials opt to challenge the minister's order in court will be decided after they receive a reply to the letter sent to the minister.

Narva City Council and the regional minister are in agreement however over the decision to rename the city's 26 Juuli tänav (July 26 Street) as "Juuli tänav" ("July Street"). On July 26, 1944, the Nazi German occupation of Narva ended and the Soviet occupation began.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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