TALLINN - Estonia’s security police (KaPo) have branded Tallinn mayor and opposition leader Edgar Savisaar as Moscow’s “agent of influence,” in a letter to the country’s government, the local Postimees newspaper reports. Savisaar has been marked in counterintelligence reports as a “danger” and a “security threat” to the state since June.
The latest report suggests that the mayor received 1.5 million dollars from Moscow to “increase Russia’s influence on Estonia.” The paper noted that this was the exact sum spent on the construction of a Russian Orthodox church in Tallinn’s most populated Lasnamae district, reports news agency LETA.
“The career of one party politician is not the only thing at stake; this also involves the image of the entire state and people’s trust in it,” Postimees writes.
Both KaPo chief commissar Andres Kahar and Savisaar refused to comment on the information, the paper said, adding that the mayor has not yet been interrogated by police. Savisaar’s opposition Center Party is the second largest in the Estonian parliament and enjoys the support of the country’s Russian-speaking community. In December 2004, the party signed a cooperation agreement with Russia’s pro-Kremlin United Russia party.
Center Party’s legendary politician Ain Seppik has usually helped to foster Savisaar’s connections in Russia. But this spring Vladimir Velman went to Russia, together with Savisaar, instead. According to the KaPo report, this trip started a story that the source of Postimees called “the stupidest blow to the morale of our state in 20 years.”
Namely it emerges that already since the beginning of summer, Savisaar has been for KaPo counterintelligence officials a person with the label “danger to security” and the title “influence agent” is used to describe him.
According to the document, Savisaar asked, via mediators, for 1.5 million euros to increase the influence of Russia in Estonia. The sum is in the range of Center Party election campaign costs or would cover the costs of a new Russian church in Tallinn.
Savisaar called the accusations published in Postimees a classical pre-election move and should not be overdramatized, writes National Broadcasting. “Two months before elections, all kinds of things can happen,” said Savisaar. “I take that as a classical pre-election move,” Savisaar told Kuku radio.
Savisaar noted that in 1995, in connection with the so-called tape-recording scandal, four criminal investigations against him were launched, which did not lead anywhere. He also cited the application made a year ago by the then interior minister, Juri Pihl, to the Security Police where Pihl accused Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Justice Minister Rein Lang of treason and asked if any of them considered resignation then, which they did not. “Why do you think I should behave any differently than them,” Savisaar asked at a press conference.
Savisaar also said that he does not understand how participation in building a new Russian Orthodox Church and at collection of money for this is of danger to Estonia. He said that he was ready that such accusations would be made sooner or later, since he really is trying to keep contacts with Russians and visits Moscow, too.
Security Police senior commissar Andres Kahar told ERR news portal that informing the state leadership about security dangers is one of the main tasks of the institution, but the information is not public and publishing any claims or speculation in the press does not make the information public, either.