TALLINN - Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar has slammed the Aripaev daily for what he termed "libel" in a row over a misquote published in the newspaper's online edition on Jan. 18.
For two hours the Aripaev Web site carried the news headline "Savisaar uses dirty word to slam Ansip." The story reported that in response to the question, "Who would you recall?" Savisaar answered, "I wouldn't like to mention any concrete names here, but all the shit begins with Ansip."
Aripaev later found itself apologizing for the article after it determined that that the man quoted was unlikely to be Savisaar.
Savisaar said he intends to take up the issue with the Press Council and dismisses claims that the false quote was an unintended blunder on the part of the paper. Savisaar has in the past complained that Estonia's media outlets are aligned with right-wing political forces.
Savisaar has also demanded that the editor-in-chief step down if the paper continues to publish "untrue" and "politically motivated" information.
The journalist in the middle of the row, Hille Tressum, told The Baltic Times that Aripaev has now taken new measures in checking the validity of statements before they are published.
Aripaev defended itself in a public apology posted on the site and said that the journalist had phoned a number in the paper's database when she requested to speak with Savisaar. A later call to the same number was answered by a man who said the number had not been used by the mayor in over a decade.
Savisaar has rejected the apology, maintaining a searing front against what he called the "public degradation" that he endured and claims that the apology only attempts to avoid and paper-over the issue.
"This isn't merely a slip-up, this is malicious defamation," Savisaar wrote in a public response to the apology, "When Aripaev calls whomever and places their words in my mouth, then it is without a doubt aimed at slandering both myself and the Tallinn City Government."
Further rejecting the apology, Savisar wrote, "Alas it [the apology] is still a biased version with which I do not agree. Aripaev was regardless not the one who fell prey, but I was."
The question the paper intended to ask Savisaar was sparked by the decision of Pro Patria and Res Publica Union to recall the Regional Affairs Minister Vallo Reimaa (see article, Page 1).