Savisaar’s leadership under fire

  • 2011-01-05
  • By Ella Karapetyan

TALLINN - Estonian security police KAPO has confirmed to the government security committee that mayor of Tallinn and Center Party leader Edgar Savisaar secretly asked Russian officials for financial assistance. The committee, which consists of Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, Defense Minister Jaak Aaviksoo, Minister of the Interior Marko Pomerants, Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet, Minister of Justice Rein Lang and Minister of Finance Jurgen Ligi was informed that Savisaar asked for 3 million euros in assistance from Moscow, and was promised half the amount.

According to the police, Savisaar had claimed that he asked the Russians for financial assistance to help complete the building of the Russian Orthodox Church in Tallinn. However, according to KAPO, Savisaar asked for 3 million euros in assistance to his Center Party plus 1.5 million euros for the church. The money was aimed at the party, not to Savisaar personally.
According to KAPO, Savisaar asked for the money through Vladimir Yakunin, who is chairman of Russian Railways, a former KGB officer and a close ally of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Savisaar himself called a press conference in which he accused Prime Minister Ansip of waging a media war against him. He says that he asked for the money only for the church.
According media reports, Savisaar’s meetings with Yakunin is believed to have been recorded by the Russian secret services and this information had been leaked to Estonian authorities.

Andrus Blok, the chairman of the People’s Union said that the People’s Union will carry on cooperation with Edgar Savisaar despite the fact that Estonia’s major parliamentary parties have been quick to distance themselves from the Center Party for alleged involvement in soliciting political financing from Russia.

“Let’s put it this way: the fact is we can’t rule out cooperation with anyone,” Blok said, explaining that the People’s Union would cooperate with any political powers, including the Center Party, that support a similar agenda. “We will cooperate with them despite the current unpleasant situation. Estonia is a rather small country and we should all learn how to work together.”
Blok added that his party couldn’t make an assessment before all the facts are discovered. The Reform Party as well as the Isamaaliit and Res Publica Union and the Social Democrats have all declared that they wouldn’t work with the Center Party under Savisaar’s leadership.

Moreover, the Greens’ leader said that their cooperation with the Center Party has been promising but is not going to grow into big cooperation due to the recent scandal.