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Writers' Union installs context plaque below Juhan Smuul statue

The information plaque on the Writer's House wall.
The information plaque on the Writer's House wall. Source: Eesti Kirjanike Liit

A plaque explaining writer Juhan Smuul's involvement with the 1949 deportations was hung below his statue on the Writers' House house wall in Tallinn this week.

The steel plaque features a QR code that links to a website explaining Smuul's actions. His connection with the deportations only came to light last year and there were calls to remove his bust.

"The aim is to show both sides of history, the light and the dark," said Tiit Alekseyev, chairman of the Estonian Writers' Union.

"It is not possible to change history, and it would not be right to mold it to your taste. What the future fate of the original bas-relief will be is up to the Union of Writers as an organization to decide," he added.

Smuul (1922–1971) was the long-time chairman of the USSR Writers' Union. He wrote Stalinist poems in his youth, but it was his later work that was most popular.

The bas-relief made by Matti Varik and Allan Murdmaa was installed on the wall of the Writers' House in Tallinn's Old Town in February 1972 after his death.

Last April, the union's general assembly agreed to keep the statue as a warning example and a monument of the past.

The March deportations saw 22,500 Estonians deported to Siberia in cattle cars on the orders of the USSR. In total, 87,000 were deported from the three Baltic states.

The plaque below Juhan Smuul's statue. Source: Eesti Kirjanike Liit

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Editor: Aleksander Krjukov, Helen Wright

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