Estonian towns ‘reluctant’ to host destroyed Russian tank – media
A plan by the Estonian Defense Ministry to stage a “tour” of a destroyed Russian tank through several Estonian cities has faced opposition from the local authorities. Some of them called it a political stunt ahead of upcoming elections, while others treated it like a “natural disaster,” the Postimees newspaper reported on Tuesday.
“After all, we all understand that it is propaganda,” said Triin Varek, the mayor of the northern Estonian city of Rakvere, adding that it would be out of place ahead of the parliamentary elections scheduled for early March.
“At any other time, yes, please. But at the moment, this tank would be inappropriate between the political parties’ election tents,” Varek stated. She insisted that the city “has not given permission to the Ministry of Defense to organize a public event.”
The head of Estonia’s north-eastern region of Johvi, which includes a city of the same name, opposed the idea of the tank being placed on display. Some local government officials believe “the tank should not be brought here at all,” Maris Toomel, the Johvi municipal head, told the media, adding that the region has a sizable Russian-speaking community and the exhibition could lead to “confrontation.”
According to Postimees, the Estonian cities of Johvi, Narva, and Rakvere have “explicitly refused” to host the exhibition and the south-western port city of Parnu is still “considering” the proposal. Other cities such as Tartu and Viljandi have agreed to the Defense Ministry’s idea, the media outlet said.
The ministry insisted on Tuesday that it would not change the exhibition plan despite opposition from local authorities, according to Postimees.
“The cities that have demonstrated an interest in hosting the tank have not changed their minds,” the ministry told the newspaper, adding that an exact route of the “tour” would be revealed shortly.
The tank, which arrived in Estonia from Ukraine and was put on display in a central square of the Estonian capital of Tallinn over the weekend, has already sparked controversy, with some locals laying flowers by it, much to the dismay of the authorities.
On Tuesday, Estonian police fined a man after he refused to remove flowers he had placed at the tank, despite repeated demands from officers, Postimees reported.