No consensus in Riigikogu on amending proposed Soviet monuments law

Soviet symbol on a building in Tallinn.
Soviet symbol on a building in Tallinn. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The Riigikogu has voted against re-adopting an unamended version of a law, which would have called for the removal of a variety of Soviet-era features, including details on buildings and in other public spaces. Therefore, the debate on historical symbols and the search for legal clarity continues.

On Wednesday, an unamended version of the law, which President Alar Karis declined to promulgate earlier this year, was backed by just nine members of the Riigikogu, while 76 voted against its re-adoption. The law will therefore now continue to be processed in accordance with regular procedures.

The fate of the proposed law will be decided after further amendments have been put forward on October 11. However, as things stand, there is no consensus in the Riigikogu on which aspects to amend or in what way.

Chair of the Riigikogu Economic Affairs Committee, Priit Lomp (SDE), pointed out that the current wording of the law actually covers a lot more than just Soviet monuments, and suggested that it be amended to narrow the focus to monuments only.

"There is no point fighting with someone's aunt from Sillamäe, who has a symbol on her balcony that could be covered up in one way or another when renovating her house," said Lomp.

Riigikogu MP Helir Valdor Seeder (Isamaa) expressed concern about the delay in processing the law and said the coalition had not shown enough will to move it forward quickly.

Seeder does not want to change the content of the law as he believes it complies with the Estonian Constitution. In his view, the adoption of the law may be being hampered by a lack of will to resolve the issue.

Urve Tiidus (Reform), who made a presentation on behalf of the Riigikogu's Constitutional Committee on Wednesday regarding the issue, declined to provide a comment to ERR's.

The purpose of the act is to specify the removal of Soviet monuments and symbols from public space. It also covers architectural and artistic work.

On March 7, President Alar Karis declined to promulgate the law, which would have led to the removal of a variety of Soviet-era features, including details on buildings and in other public spaces, calling the legislation unconstitutional on the grounds of insufficiently clear wording.

The law passed at the parliament on February 15, as one of the XIV Riigikogu's last significant actions, making amendments to the Estonian Building Code and Planning Act.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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