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First lady outraged by attacks on president

  • 2006-08-23
  • From wire reports

STAND BY YOUR MAN: Ingrid Ruutel, exasperated with media attacks against her husband, has come to the president's defense.

TALLINN - Ingrid Ruutel, wife of President Arnold Ruutel, expressed her indignation over attacks against her husband, saying the media was deliberately trying to wreck the president's image on the eve of the Aug. 28 presidential ballot. In an online interview with the daily Postimees Aug. 16, Ingrid Ruutel said, "At first such attacks disturbed me and the whole family very much, and I sincerely wished that he would no longer run [in the election 's ed.], but recently they've become so gross that I've developed a desire to protest."

"The more I read, the more I begin to feel that this action has been undertaken to blackmail me," she said.
Ingrid Ruutel admitted that it would no doubt be more convenient and peaceful for her husband and the whole family to live out of the public's eye.

"If some other sensible candidate is elected as the new president, we will both wish him luck," she said. "But if the new president is boosted to power by mockery and slander of the incumbent, using the basest tricks, I don't believe a 'fair, clean and ethical Republic of Estonia' lies ahead."
Ingrid Ruutel reminded that the president did not nominate his candidacy for the parliamentary round, so the opportunity to elect the president is still open. "Until the final election has taken place in Parliament, he is not officially a presidential candidate," she added. "Whether he becomes an official candidate or does not depends above all on parliament and then the electoral college."

Speaking about Arnold Ruutel's activity during the Soviet era and his role in the restoration of independence, Ingrid Ruutel recommended that Estonians read her husband's book of memoirs Tuleviku taassund (English edition: "Estonia: Future Returned"), where "many things are explained in great detail."
"People who were grown up at the time probably remember it, but I suggest younger people should certainly get acquainted with the facts before shaping their opinions," she added. "It is very regrettable that school books do not reflect the role that the Supreme Council had in the restoration of independence."

The first lady added that every president had his virtues and shortcomings. Arnold Ruutel's burden was certainly his age and poor linguistic skills, she added.
"But the experience he has and the values he protects as president are more important," the first lady concluded. "Actually, he's a good communicator, even if he resorts to an interpreter's assistance. And incidentally, not all presidents speak English and there are presidents in Europe who are older than he is."