Tallinn mayor rejects Nemtsov street rename proposal

Tallinn Mayor (and Tae Kwon Do blackbelt) Mihhail Kõlvart (Centre).
Tallinn Mayor (and Tae Kwon Do blackbelt) Mihhail Kõlvart (Centre). Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart (Centre) has rejected a proposal from the opposition Reform Party group at the City Government to rename a street in the city after murdered Russian politician Boris Nemtsov.

The proposal, made by council member Eerik-Niiles Kross (Reform) noted that there was already a square named after Nemtsov, a vocal critic of the Putin regime murdered in Moscow in February 2015, in Washington D.C.. Kross suggested a small square in front of the Maiasmoka Café in the Old Town as one possible location for the name-change, but said other possibilities in the Old Town might be viable

"Does Eerik-Niiles Kross seriously think that the Suurgildi Square (the current name of the location-ed.), by the Church of the Holy Spirit and the Maiasmoka Café, should lose its name?" Kõlvart said, according to BNS.

"I cannot see what the reason  could be for us to replace the historical Suurgildi name with one concerning daily politics," he added.

The mayor said that the Old Town of Tallinn is under UNESCO protection, and that this is primarily to its intact nature. He added that it is the only medieval old town in the region that has been preserved so well in its entirety, and as such is Estonia's largest and most internationally-known treasure.

"This year, Tallinn will mark the 800th anniversary of its first recorded mention. A historical name is as much a part of the heritage of the Old Town as the walls, towers, gates and cobblestone streets," Kõlvart said.

The mayor added that at the beginning of the year, Tallinn was awarded the title of best value destination by the Lonely Planet travel portal.

"This title was earned thanks to the fact that we taken care of and preserved our heritage. We must also continue in the same way," Kõlvart continued.

"Old names were acceptable to previous generations and are acceptable to us, too. In addition, it is not quite clear what Nemtsov's relationship with Tallinn was, and I think many people not only in Tallinn but the whole of Estonia agree with me," the mayor concluded.

Eerik-Niiles Kross had said that Nemtsov had been a friend to Estonia, and had built bridges between it and the Russian Federation. Suurgildi Square is about 40 meters from the Russian Embassy, on Pikk Street.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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