Mayor: Mariupol Drama Theater graffiti sprayed in Narva is a ‘provocation’

The graffiti was found just before May 9, the day Russia commemorates winning World War II, which in the past has led to tensions among Estonia’s Russian-speaking community. Public gatherings that celebrate the event are banned in Estonia.

The word “ДЕТИ” was written in large letters in front of the drama theater last year to stop Russian forces from destroying the building as they tried to occupy the city in southern Ukraine. The building was destroyed on March 16, 2022 by an ariel bomb, killing civilians sheltering in the basement

“This is a provocation. Unfortunately, the word is written in the same font as the one in front of the Mariupol theatre, which was bombed. On behalf of the authorities in Narva, I can say a firm “no” to all provocations and actions that can be understood in different ways. I wish everyone today and on May 9 intelligence and peace,” said Katri Raik in an interview with ERR’s Russian-language news portal on Monday.

“Such phrases are unacceptable. In general, you should not write anything in public places because we are talking about damaging our public space. This is not the way to do it. This is our city. We should preserve it. And let’s also look after each other and live in peace,” she added.

Raik said she had contacted the police about the incident and ordered municipal workers to remove the graffiti, which was carried out on Monday afternoon.

Police make arrest

The police have opened misdemeanor proceedings after detaining a person in relation to the incident. The details are still being clarified.

A satellite photo of the Russian word for children written outside the Mariupol Drama Theater in Ukraine. Source: SCANPIX / AFP

“As far as we know, no misdeeds similar to this slogan have been committed in Narva or elsewhere in Estonia,” said police spokesperson Kadri Martin. 

The police have not released any details about the detained individual, but sources close to rus.err believe it is activist Vovan Kaštan, who carried out a similar activity at the site of the removed Russian tank last month.

Kaštan admitted to spraying quotes from Russian military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky at the site.

The Russian-language text translates as: “We will defeat everyone, we will kill everyone, we will rob everyone. Everything will be as we like.”

Graffiti at the former site of the T-34 tank in Narva. Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

Tatarsky was one of Russia’s best-known military bloggers and a vocal supporter of its war in Ukraine. He was killed in an explosion at a St. Petersburg café on April 2.

Kaštan told the news portal Delfi in April that he sprayed the graffiti to discredit the Kremlin and those who support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He was upset that, even after the full-scale invasion, Narva residents still left flowers and candles at the site of the tank, which is a symbol of occupation to Estonians.

However, the Estonian activist also admitted he did not properly think through how his actions could be viewed by the rest of society.

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