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Tallinn wants to determine Soviet monument's historic value

Soviet-era monuments at Maarjamäe.
Soviet-era monuments at Maarjamäe. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The city of Tallinn wants an expertise concerning the architectural and historical value of the Soviet-era parts of the city's Maarjamäe Memorial complex. The expertise would help determine what to do next with the obelisk as well as the ceremonial square and its stands, which are in bad shape.

Since Justice Minister Urmas Reinsalu (IRL) pointed out in January that the memorial isn't on any of Estonia's heritage protection lists and could thus hypothetically be torn down, architects and historians have maintained that the objects of the memorial complex added during the Soviet era belong to only very few examples of modern-time landscape architecture.

Tallinn deputy mayor, Andrei Novikov (Center) told ERR's "Aktuaalne kaamera" newscast on Tuesday that state real estate manager RKAS had an expertise done two years ago for repair work that made the area safe for visitors, but that even that assessment likely no longer reflected the current state of the obelisk, the ceremonial square, and the audience stands.

Novikov added that a decision is needed as well whether or not to put the area under heritage protection, as this would help determine what needs to be done next.

"There has been the point of view on the part of architects for a while now that the area is very valuable in terms of its landscape architecture, and the city has also confirmed that this is a valuable area and that [all of the Maarjamäe Memorial] should be treated as a single complex," Novikov said.

The plot on Tallinn's Pirita Street is so-called unreformed state land, which means that it is ultimately in the purview of the state to decide what to do. At the same time, the obelisk is registered as property of the city of Tallinn, which makes it necessary to formally determine who will eventually own and maintain the complex as a whole.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said in January that he thinks it a much better idea to turn the area, which beyond the Soviet memorial also includes the Maarjamäe History Center, a German war cemetery, and the recently completed memorial to the victims of communism, into a single memorial complex.

The Soviet memorial on the site was built between 1960 and 1975. The obelisk commemorates the so-called Ice Cruise of the Baltic Fleet, the evacuation of Russian warships from Tallinn to Helsinki and later Kronstadt to get them out of the Germans in February 1918. The operation followed an order by Vladimir Lenin and meant moving more than 200 ships including several heavy cruisers across the partially frozen Gulf of Finland.

The ceremonial square and other objects, including the two concrete elements across Pirita Street, were intended to be part of a second and much larger monument to the struggle of the Estonian farmers and workers from the Mahtra War to Estonia's "joining" the Soviet Union. This monument was never completed.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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