Narva street renaming goes ahead despite council voting it down

Renovated Narva Town Hall (right) next to Narva Collage building (left).
Renovated Narva Town Hall (right) next to Narva Collage building (left). Source: Angelina Ivanova

Changing street names in the eastern border town of Narva got underway Friday. The work will require around 100 signs to be changed, and is being done despite a recent council vote against doing so.

The name-changing has already begun across five streets named after individuals who happened to be in the Soviet armed forces during World War Two; despite a vote against doing this at city council level last month, the process got underway.

Mayor of Narva Katri Raik, said: "If you really ask me if it's normal where the council is of one mind and the city administration is of another, then I would have to say that is not normal. But that's just the way it is."

Raik said that the state is footing the bill for the name change, which will come to €7,000.

From Friday, what had been Grafovi street, whoever Grafov may have been,* is now known as Madise. Similarly, Bastrakovi is now called Masina street, after the name change.

Minister for Regional and Rural Affairs Madis Kallas (SDE) requires a total of five streets in Narva to have names more appropriate to Estonia and certainly which do not run counter to independent Estonia's cultural narrative and history.

The state has had to step in in order to get such policies carried out in the border town in the past. One of the highest-profile examples of this came in August 2022 when a T-34 tank which had served as a memorial was removed from its plinth just to the North of Narva, and relocated to a museum near Tallinn. This was done by the state after an impasse had been reached at local authority level.

*Apparently the commander of an anti-aircraft machine gun group of the 803rd anti-aircraft regiment during the 1944 Battle of Narva. Estonian street names generally take the genitive form. For instance the ERR News House is on F.R. Kreutzwaldi, the genitive form of Kreutzwald.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera,' reporter Jüri Nikolajev.

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