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Patarei fortress could house planned center investigating communist crimes

The Patarei Sea Fortress in Tallinn. Built in the 19th century, the fortress served as a prison from 1920 to 2002.
The Patarei Sea Fortress in Tallinn. Built in the 19th century, the fortress served as a prison from 1920 to 2002. Source: (Postimees/Scanpix)

Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu (IRL) sees the Patarei Sea Fortress, a former prison in the Tallinn port area awaiting renovation, as a possible location for the center for the investigation of communist crimes the government is planning to create.

The renovation and maintenance of the massive building will be funded privately, as ERR's radio news reported on Tuesday. Reinsalu believes that in addition to the center, it could house museums and exhibitions covering Estonia's recent history.

State real estate agency Riigi Kinnisvara AS (RKAS) is planning to assign one wing of the complex to this purpose, while the rest of the available space would be put to commercial use. The current plan for the area includes the option of commercial as well as residential construction of buildings with up to five floors.

After its negotiations in late 2016, the coalition announced that it would create an international center for the investigation of the crimes of communism, and support it with €3m over the coming three years. According to the program, the government will allocate one million euros a year from 2018 to 2020 to create such a center.

Reinsalu first proposed the idea of a center to investigate crimes committed by communist regimes and organizations in August 2015. Initial support for the idea came from Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Ukraine, and Georgia. Romania and Bulgaria followed later in the same year. All victims had a right to justice, and restoring that justice needed to be a common goal of the younger generation of Europeans, Reinsalu said. “Ruling on past crimes is a guarantee that ideologically motivated genocide does not happen in the future,” he added.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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