Security police to check candidates for top jobs

  • 2000-08-03
TALLINN (BNS) - Under a bill drafted by Estonia's National Security Police, the department's officers would be given the right to conduct comprehensive background checks on candidates for top state jobs.

The bill calls for such checks to be performed on candidates for the post of state auditor, legal chancellor, armed forces commander, president of the Bank of Estonia and members of the central bank's supervisory council, the daily Eesti Paevaleht reported.

Checks on each person would be carried out over a period of up to three months, during which security police officials would gather information about the candidate from private individuals, companies, state institutions and other organizations.

"The aim of the security checks is to ensure protection of state secrets," National Security Police spokesman Meelis Ratassepp said.

The procedure of background checks will be the same as in granting security clearance for access to state secrets. The heads of the constitutional institutions mentioned in the bill have access to all categories of classified data, including data which is top secret.

Ratassepp said the checks won't involve phone-tapping or secret surveillance. Such procedures are allowed only in the case of first and second degree crimes and require a judge's permit, he said.

Police say the legislative amendment is necessary because two years ago Parliament introduced a similar procedure for candidates for judges. In the article about the suggested amendments, Eesti Paevaleht reminded its readers of the case of Bank of Estonia governor-elect Vello Vensel, who resigned a few days before stepping into office this April, citing bad health.

Eesti Paevaleht said at the time Vensel's sudden maneuver may have been caused by his former links to the KGB. Media also accused the security police of being late with checks on the statistics professor's background.