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Maarjamäe obelisk hatch mystery to be solved in spring

Plaques commemorating the Red Army were removed from the Maarjamäe Memorial site on Thursday
Plaques commemorating the Red Army were removed from the Maarjamäe Memorial site on Thursday Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

A hatch leading to the obelisk at the Soviet Maarjamäe complex in Tallinn will be opened in spring after the snow clears, Deputy Mayor of Tallinn Vladimir Svet (Center) said on Wednesday.

The hatch was identified for the first time in old archival documents almost a year ago. In October, its location was confirmed by University of Tartu researchers using a geo-radar survey. 

Svet said investigations need to be carried out calmly and in coordination with all parties involved as both German and Soviet soldiers are buried nearby.

"We now know that there are about two meters of soil above the hatch and this room," said the official.

The report prepared by the university's geology department suggests there is construction debris or larger stones in the soil around the obelisk. However, they still managed to find the entrance.

Tallinn Deputy Mayor Vladimir Svet (Center). Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

"One thing we couldn't tell with GPR is whether the space is filled with soil or empty," Svet added.

The city government can now move forward will plans to open the hatch and, if possible, allow experts to go inside the obelisk. It has not said what may be inside.

Svet said the authorities want to know what condition the inside of the obelisk is in.

"We would like to find out what the condition of the obelisk is from the inside. Unfortunately, we do not have this knowledge at the moment. Except that it is in a very bad condition," said Svet, who said that the 36-meter-high obelisk, which was opened in 1960, has started to decay.

Maarjamäe Memorial in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Unlike the rest of the memorial complex, which belongs to the state, the obelisk is the city's property. 

So far, the state has not moved forward with either restoration work or plans to demolish the dilapidated monuments. Additionally, no steps have been taken to transfer the site to Tallinn, although the capital has requested it. 

If the situation does not change, after determining the condition of the obelisk, the Tallinn City Government will discuss whether it should be preserved separately.  Svet said the cost will play an important role in the decision.

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Editor: Mirjam Mäekivi, Helen Wright

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