Estonia removes a Soviet monument from public space due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

In Estonia, the government has announced that it has decided to remove a Soviet-era monument, which it says poses a risk to public order, from the town of Narva in the Russian-speaking part of the country.

Making a statement on the subject, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas stated that the move to remove the mostly Russian-speaking town on the border with Russia came after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Stating that they do not want to give Russia the opportunity to “pierce old wounds”, the Prime Minister said, “No one wants to see our enemy neighbor fuel tension in our house. We will not give Russia the opportunity to use the past to disturb the peace in Estonia.”

There is a replica of a T-34 tank with a red Soviet star on the monument, which was erected in memory of the Soviet soldiers who liberated Estonia from Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

While the Estonian press published the removal process of the monument, it was reported that the tank would be taken to the Estonian War Museum in the town of Viimsi, north of the capital Tallinn.

Confirming that the entire monument was dismantled, Interior Minister Lauri Laanemets said that the operation was carried out in an “honourable” manner, for example, flowers and candles placed on monuments will not be thrown away, but will be taken to the cemetery.

Prime Minister Kallas added that the memorial at the joint grave of WWII victims will be replaced by a “neutral” grave marker and will remain an “honorable” space for commemoration.

The decision was protested.

On August 15, the city council in the border town of Narva, where the monument is located, voted to accept the removal. Soon after, a crowd gathered around the monument to protest the plan. But the government has announced that a total of seven more Soviet-era monuments will be removed from Narva.

Estonia, which has a border of approximately 300 kilometers with Russia, is one of the European Union countries that reacted strongly to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

In the Baltic country, which declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the removal of another Soviet war memorial, the Tallinn Bronze Statue, in 2007 led to protests that lasted for days.

While Russian-speaking Estonians claimed that the removal of the monument erased their history, one person was killed and more than a thousand people were arrested in the events that broke out. The statue was moved to a military cemetery despite all protests.

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