News new | Estonian mayor will not run for office due to the dismantling of the Soviet memorial

When MPs threaten military monuments, the mayor declares she won't run for office.

The removal of many Soviet-era war memorials in Ida-Viru County, including an iconic T-34 tank in the provincial capital Narva, was approved by the Estonian government on Tuesday. The local mayor said that she would not run in the parliamentary elections the following year as a show of protest.

Katri Raik criticized the decision's abruptness and the fact that it was made without consulting her administration.

The city official said to national public radio ERR, "At the moment I can't image myself sitting in the same chamber as those people, who took this choice in the way they did."

She continued that things might change in the upcoming months, but for the time being, all of her thoughts are focused on helping her city. In March 2023, Estonia is expected to elect a new parliament.

The memorial for the T-34 tank has caused tensions between the Russian community in Narva and Estonia's nationalistic government. Soviet monuments represent a time in history that many Tallinn officials saw as Moscow's occupation. Others view them as a symbol of the World War II sacrifices and the victory over Nazi Germany.

Several war memorials in Ida-Viru were sealed off early on Tuesday morning by order of the Estonian government. They will be transferred to a museum in the northern Baltic nation's small town of Viimsi.

The government was reportedly preparing a covert operation to remove "memorials and monuments with emblems of occupation authority" from public areas in Estonia, according to last week's ERR investigation.

The city of Narva, where the majority of residents are of ethnic Russian descent, did nothing to stop the T-34 monument. At a Monday meeting, the municipal council voted to put the matter on hold. By August 20, when Estonia observes the Day of Restoration of Independence, the tank was to leave the city, according to the directive of the central government.

Tuesday's media conference was used by the Estonian cabinet to inform the public of the situation. Seven Soviet monuments will be taken down, according to Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and her cabinet, who also claimed that the matter was outside the jurisdiction of the local governments.

The Estonian border guard agency reported the Tuesday closure as being due to a necessary software upgrade. At the same time, border crossings between Russia and Estonia's Ida-Viru County were closed for several hours.

Traffic in central Narva was blocked by Estonian police, who also encouraged people to avoid the targeted sites. They said that specially trained officers were stationed at each place to quell any potential unrest.

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