Anti-corruption committee cracks down on Center Party

  • 2005-11-25
  • By TBT staff

TALLINN - Parliament's anti-corruption committee has cracked down on the Center Party, demanding that it include controversial K curd snack advertisements in its election expenses report.

The dairy-product billboard ads, which looked surprisingly like the Center Party Logo, caused much controversy as they allegedly broke the outdoor advertising ban. The legislation came into effect one month before Tallinn's municipal elections 's the same week K curd snack advertisements were posted across the country.

Chairwoman of the People's Union ad hoc committee, Margi Ein, said the national electoral committee influenced the final decision, as they asserted that the K curd posters were, indeed, political advertisements.

Last month, the committee said it would demand that the Center Party include K curd advertisement expenses in their election campaign report, in case competent bodies found them political.

On Nov. 24, the committee agreed to ask the Center Party to explain five sums registered under an order from AD Idea advertising services. The total amount came to nearly 2.56 million kroons (163,000 euros). AD Idea has a long history of cooperation with Center Party, and was the agency behind the K curd snack advertisements.

The Center Party spent a total of 16.1 million kroons in the local election campaign.

The committee also decided to send a letter to AS Kohuke (Curd Snack), the firm that produces the dairy product.

"The committee would like to ask AS Kohuke how much the advertisements cost, whether they simultaneously advertised the Center Party with the curd snack advertisements and why the firm picked AD Idea to make the advertisements," Ein told the Baltic News Service.

On Nov. 17, the central electoral committee said the advertisements, which were posted in the streets of several Estonian major towns at the beginning of October, were "unambiguously associated with the Center Party."

Unofficial sources claim that a semiotic analysis of the advertisements, conducted by Tartu University, pointed out the dairy ads' political angle and their connection with the Center Party.

The North Police Prefecture took misdemeanour action, saying the curd snack advertisements breached the Penal Code's article on outdoor political advertising restrictions.

The Center Party earlier denied any connection with the AS Kohuke advertising campaign.

AS Kohuke is a subsidiary of Tallinna Piimatoostus (Tallinn Dairy), which belongs to Oliver Kruuda, a major financier of the Center Party.