TALLINN - President Arnold Ruutel expressed concern on March 31 over Estonia's development as a democratic state. The head of state specified that the struggle for power in Tallinn has only exacerbated the problem. "Attempts to set a price to politicians and bargain over it with the aim of making them change sides do not adhere to the rules of fair and acceptable politics," the president said.
The current situation in Tallinn, he added, shows that not all politicians respect the people's will and are ready to accept the results of democratic elections. Instead, these individuals are working to restore unethical methods.
"If people can mention a 'price' for several politicians, and in earlier cases a 'purchase,' then such cases are no longer just regrettable exceptions," the president said. "This refers to a very dangerous practice 's the use of methods absolutely unacceptable in a democratic society. All Estonian parties and electors, as well as relevant agencies, must demonstrate concern over this."
The president highlighted the two elections scheduled for Estonia this year, emphasizing that it was in the interest of all people and parties to conduct fair and lawful elections.
"Those politicians who receive a mandate must execute their power fairly and transparently," Ruutel added. "Secret deals and ballot-buying have no place among methods of ethical politics."
The spread of such dishonesty was leading Estonia's democracy into a serious crisis, Ruutel said, endangering the nation's statehood and destroying the people's trust.
"As a citizen of Estonia and president of the republic, I am deeply concerned about this," Ruutel said. "I believe the country's law enforcement bodies will provide a competent and just opinion of the incident."
The president appealed to everyone to do their best to protect democracy. The people's sense of justice and safekeeping, he said, were too valuable to go undefended.
Last week, a Centrist member of the Tallinn city council, Tonis Bittman, claimed a Republican city councillor, Oleg Rebane, had attempted to bribe him. Bittman secretly taped his conversation with Rebane in order to protect himself. However, Rebane blamed Bittman of lying and suspended his membership in the council.