TALLINN - Estonia's Regional Affairs Minister Madis Kallas said at the government's press briefing on Thursday that he has ordered the city authorities of Narva to go ahead with the removal of street name plates on the streets bearing names of Red Army soldiers.
According to the minister, the street names in question are clearly inappropriate given Estonia's history and cultural history and their replacement must be completed.
The proposal of the Ministry of Regional Affairs was met with both support and an opinion from the Narva city council that the situation could remain unchanged as regards the names of four streets.
"This proposal was also answered this morning, and we reaffirmed that these names are inappropriate and must not be used for addresses in Estonia," said Kallas.
Kallas said the Narva city government was issued an order to proceed with the process of changing street names, that is, they have to order new name plates and prepare to remove the old plates from buildings.
On Aug. 17, the Narva council voted in favor of a decision to retain street names given during the Soviet era in honor of Red Army soldiers, even though it was known that the regional affairs minister would likely change them with his regulation, the regional newspaper Pohjarannik reported.
Two alternative drafts were submitted to the city council. One was a project prepared by the city government, which proposed the changing of seven inappropriate street names. During the vote, five council members supported it, eight were against, and three were neutral.
The other draft, proposed by Irina Janovits, suggested preserving the street names given after four Soviet Army soldiers. This draft was accompanied by commentary from lawyer Aleksandr Gamazin, who argued that the minister's regulation is not based on a credible analysis that would suggest that these names are inappropriate.
According to Gamazin, Estonia could not have been occupied from 1944 to 1991, arguing that otherwise, the declaration of sovereignty proclaimed in 1988 and the subsequent declaration of independence would not have been possible.
Ten members of the Narva city council supported the preservation of the Red Army street names, five were against, and two were neutral.
There are 32 members in the Narva city council, many of whom were either not present or didn't vote.