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Mayor to skip national election over WWII monument removal — Analysis

Estonian city leader says she won’t run for parliament when MPs target war memorials

Estonia’s government voted Tuesday to take down several Soviet-era memorials from Ida-Viru County. This included a T-34 tank that was located in Narva, the province capital. The local mayor protested and said she would not be running for the next year’s parliamentary elections.

Katri Raik lashed out at the abruptness and inexplicable nature of the decision.

“At the moment I can’t imagine myself sitting in the same chamber as those people, who took this decision in the way they did,”The official from the city spoke to ERR, the national public broadcaster.

She said that while the situation could change over the next months, her main thoughts right now are focused on serving her community. Estonia’s March 2023 election is set.

The T-34 tank memorial has been a flash point between Estonia’s nationalistic government and the Russian community in Narva. Tallinn’s officials see the Soviet memorials as a reminder of an era in Estonian history, which they view as Moscow’s occupation. Some see them to be a reminder about the sacrifices that were made in World War II, and their victory over Nazi Germany.

Estonian officials ordered the closing of several Ida-Viru war monuments early Tuesday morning. These monuments will be relocated to Viimsi (a tiny town located in northern Baltic).

ERR last week reported that the government had secretly prepared an operation to eliminate “memorials and monuments with symbols of occupation authority”Estonian public space.




The T-34 monument has been ignored by Narva’s city government, which is home to a large number of ethnic Russians. At a Monday meeting, the city legislature decided that it would postpone this issue. The central government demanded the tank must be moved out of the city no later than August 20, the day Estonia’s Day of Restoration of Independence is celebrated.

Tuesday’s media conference was held by the Estonian Cabinet to discuss the state of the country. Kaja Kallas the Prime Minister and her ministers stated seven Soviet monuments will be demolished and said that this issue goes beyond what local authorities have to decide.

At the same time, border crossings between Russia and Estonia’s Ida-Viru County were shut down for several hours on Tuesday for what the Estonian border guard service described as a necessary software update.

Estonian police redirected traffic to central Narva, asking people to avoid the monuments. They stated that special-trained officers were sent to each site in an effort to calm any unrest.

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