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Narva set to lose mayor, veteran city secretary, due to council pressure

Mayor of Narva Tarmo Tammiste (Centre).
Mayor of Narva Tarmo Tammiste (Centre). Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

Fallout from controversy in the municipal council at Estonia's easternmost city, Narva, has continued this week, with the body set for an extra-ordinary meeting on Friday, to address the future of sitting mayor, Tarmo Tammiste. There is a strong chance that he will be dismissed, it is reported.

This follows a council meeting last Thursday evening which resolved to move in that direction.

Mr Tammiste's position had been under some doubt ever since a corruption scandal in the city last August saw mass defection from the city council's Centre Party branch, and the establishment of a new grouping, ''Our home, Narva''. Mr Tammiste, however, was not amongst those who left Centre, and it is likely he has come under pressure from the defectors.

Over a dozen Centre Party councillors quit the party on following Prime Minister Jüri Ratas' demand that eight councillors vacate their seats in the wake of various corruption issues involving the city's museum and other concerns. The episode highlighted the tenuous control the Centre Party headquarters has over the party in municipalities where it is strongest, in practice, the Russian-speaking majority towns like Narva, Sillamäe and Kohtla-Järve, in Ida-Viru county.

Centre Party regional rot

The controversy also took a sitting MP with it, Olga Ivanova, a native of Narva, who saw the party's central command's treatment of the Narva councillors as unjust, and who continued to sit at the Riigikogu as an independent.

The city may also be set to lose its municipal secretary, Ants Liimets, though this must be done in accordance with procedures and with justification provided, not just on a political whim, according to regional daily Põhjarannik. The paper noted that the position can be rescinded by the mayor, without any need for city council consultation, though given the tenuous position of the sitting mayor it is not clear quite how this will fit together.

Ants Liimets. Source: ERR.

What is clear is that both men are long-term post-holders. Mr Tammiste has been mayor for 15 years, and Mr Liimets has held his position since 1993, almost as long as Estonia has been an independent nation.

Mr Liimets, 64, leader of the Estonian Society, in a town with an overwhelmingly Russian-speaking majority, said of developments that ''Obviously I ask questions that some people don't like''.

Retirement age in Estonia so far as state pension qualification goes is 63, with moves for it to be increased gradually to 67 by 2023.

As noted, Mr Tammiste's remained in the Centre Party against the grain of the bulk of the councillors there; possibly replacements for him have already been touted, including deputy mayor Alexei Jevgrafov, who according to Põhjarannik is likely to be elected termporary mayor in Mr Tammiste's stead, as well as Olga Ivanova, who stated at the end of February that she would be interested in the role if it were offered and if circumstances were right.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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