reede, september 01, 2006

Peter the Not-So-Great

Man, I have to hand it to Andrus Ansip. He knows his history:


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.

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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.

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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.

13 kommentaari:

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

Where are the monuments for the Germans? Baltic Germans. Knights and others. They were the reason why Estonia is connected to 'Europe'. Christianisation and so on. 'Old Europe', ähem.
Or Danish? Or Swedish? Or Polish?

mina ütles ...

Come to Estonia and open your eyes. The land is full of them. From castles to coat of arms...

Giustino ütles ...

I think a statue to Gustav Adolphus "the Great" is in order, since Estonia is once again part of greater Sweden...

Giustino ütles ...

Where are the monuments for the Germans? Baltic Germans. Knights and others.

I'd pay to hear Ansip talk about that one. I can hear him now ...

"But the Germans killed our chieftain Lembitu, raped our women, forced us to put our verbs at the end our sentences..."

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

mina you are right. It's all there. It was just irony to call for more monuments. But a big Gustav Adolphus would fit. Even my city in Germany was 10 years under Gustav Gustavson's rule, his son. But I don't think they liked him much here.

Pekka K ütles ...

Must be something in our beer that makes us Finns a bit lethargic. We have all kinds of foreign kings and emperors standing all over the place and nobody notices them or gives a damn. My home town, Kotka, has even a park with a bust dedicated to dear comrade Lenin for crying out loud!

Giustino ütles ...

Monuments don't matter much actually. But talking about them is always a good way to pass the time. Can any of you think of a real monument you remember from a country?

For Finland, I will alsways remember staggering past Mannerheim on his horse in Helsinki, but that's about it.

The monument that sticks out most prominently for me in Estonia is in Tartu. It is the memorial to Jaan Tõnisson, an Estonian leader who was killed by the Soviets. He looks quite austere and dignified, but his dates read "1868 - ?"
That's because nobody knows how he died. They think the NKVD shot him in Tallinn in 1941. You can read more about it here -

http://www.vm.ee/est/kat_29/3892.html

It's a very good monument.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

Germany raised a lot of giant monuments during the Wilhelm empire. Hermann or Arminius who defeated the Romans in the year 9:
http://www.hermannsdenkmal.de/
The sword is 7m long.
The French with Vercingetorix also cause of resistance against Rome:
http://www.cueni.ch/images/museum/alesiaxl.jpg
I guess the equivalent in Estonia is the Kalevipoeg monument. There was some project about Kalevipoeg recently? A new one?

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

The original Kalevipoeg 100 years ago:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/65817306@N00/66742509/in/set-1434280/

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

Norwegians forgive me, Leiv Eriksson:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/placbo/180785902/in/photostream/

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

The most debated monument in Germany is the Holocaust-"Mahnfeld" in Berlin.
http://www.holocaust-mahnmal.de/
Near the Reichstag and Brandenburger Tor.

Anonüümne ütles ...

in latvia the monuments (particularly of peter the great and someone called Barklajs de Tolli similarly related to the russian empire)were first erected but demounted and withdrawn subsiquently.
i hope Estonians succeed..actually it's really great that they are concerned with what is hapening in obscure mainly russian populated places like Narva.latvians probably wouldn't be concerned in theleast if something like this occurred in a town like Daugavpils, for instance (with Latvians about 10% of the population).they don't even consider it a town in Latvia..

Niaih ütles ...

According to Voltaire, P. 38 of his biography of Charles XII, Peter the Great was appreciated in 1704 for laying his sword on the table at the city hall, insisting that his soldiers cease ravishing the conquered citizens of Narva. Voltaire writes that Peter personally pulled ravished women out of the murderous hands of his own soldiers. He wrote, "They yet show the table at the town house, where he laid his sword..."
Just a note as I'm reading the biography now and googling bits of information: that's how I found you now.