TALLINN, August 31 (RIA Novosti) - The prime minister of Estonia reiterated his opposition Thursday to the building of statues of Russian tsar Peter the Great in the Baltic country.
Commenting on the plans of Narva's municipal authorities to launch talks with the Moscow-based Dolgoruky Fund for the Support of Compatriots on financing a statue of Peter the Great in the largely Russian-speaking border city, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said he saw no reason to be grateful for the tsar's actions in Estonia.
The Estonian prime minister said, "As a resident of Tartu, I do not approve of the fact that, on Peter's orders, Tartu was razed to the ground and its residents were deported to Russia. The same was done in Narva, although admittedly the city was not destroyed. But when in 1704 Narva was conquered, all old and sick people were dragged out of their beds and thrown in the river, and in 1708 all residents of Narva were deported to Vologda and Kazan. We have no reason to be grateful to Peter I for what he did in Estonia."
Ansip said Estonia should honor its own national traditions, and regretted that the government does not have the authority to ban the building of such statues, since such decisions are made by local authorities.
On one hand, a monument to Peter the Great is an improvement to any monument to Lavrenti Beria or Josef Stalin, you know, "great Soviet heroes." Peter at least has been dead for more 200 years. I have heard that Latvia has similar problems with the Peter the Great statues. On one hand the people that live in Narva are ethnic Russians and they like Peter the Great, no matter how many Chudes he managed to get rid of while he built up the city that bears his name (not enough they might concede).
But on the other hand, Peter was a malevolent imperialist prick. Just look at his sissy mustache. It's the mustache of an arrogant snob. What's an Estonian prime minister to do, welcome the statue? Besides, Peter the Great wasn't even born in Narva and Paul Keres, the famous Estonian chess player was. Doesn't Keres get priority over Peter the Great?
Anyway, I am glad we have some more monument controversies to talk about. Pronkksõdur was getting pretty stale.