Hammer and sickle display irks politicians

  • 2005-08-03
  • From wire reports
TALLINN - A display of Soviet symbols at Tallinn's summer days festival drew sharp criticism from politicians on both sides of the spectrum. In a statement issued Aug. 2, Social Democrat MP Sven Mikser said the use of the symbols was inappropriate and shameful. "Mayor Tonis Palts' bad taste is his own problem. But as mayor he should seriously think about the reputation of his organization and that red flags and other such symbols used at activities of the city government annoy most Estonians," he said.

Palts was present at the summer festival in Kurgjarve, which featured municipal secretary Toomas Sepp dressed up as Brezhnev and men donned in the uniforms of the Soviet militia. Coverage of the summer days was made by the Reporter newscast of the Kanal 2 (Channel 2) television station.

Mikser stated that the city's intention to erect a monument to the wife of the long-time communist leader of Soviet Azerbaijan, as well as the independent republic's president, Heidar Aliyev, also fell under the overall trend of painting a nostalgic picture of Soviet times.

"On this background Mayor Tonis Palts' recent promise to give money from the reserve for the erection of a monument to an Estonian medic sounds arrogant and derides Estonian medics," Mikser said.

Secretary general of the Pro Patria Union, Aimar Altosaar, told the Baltic News Service that he was very much surprised at what took place at the Tallinn city government's summer days. "It causes indignation. Use of Soviet symbols is no joke. The frame of mind comes with the symbols and acts may follow," Altosaar said.

"If Estonia lets in red symbols, we will lose our identity and spirit of independence," he added.

Urmas Reinsalu, a Res Publica member, said there was nothing to be condemned in the use of Soviet symbols. He said that although religious respect and worship of Soviet symbols did not certainly go along with the values of an independent and free country, it was fully accepted to deride the Soviet period.

Palts, a member of the right-wing Res Publica party, condemned use of Soviet symbols in an article published in the daily Eesti Paevaleht.

Writing in his blog, he said opposition to the monument to Zarifa Aliyeva, which would stand next to the Tallinn Eye Clinic was premature as no decision has been made yet. He said that the application by the Association of Turkic and Caucasian Nations of Europe was being reviewed and would come up for discussion at a city government session when all the endorsements and drawings were on hand.

However, the previous day a city spokesperson said Palts saw no reason to prevent the monument from being built.

Deputy mayor of Tallinn Aivar Reivik said that although Zarifa Aliyeva, an eye doctor who died in 1985, had no direct links with Estonia, Tallinn is a multicultural city and therefore the municipal design commission decided to grant permission to erect the monument.