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Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip has defended his plans to visit the Sochi Olympic games this week despite recent criticism.
Although Ansip goes to Sochi as a private individual, he travels in Russia with his security team and watches the opening ceremony of the Olympics together with other state leaders from the VIP area.
Ansip goes to Sochi on Thursday and takes a vacation for the period. He will return to Estonia on Monday.
Ansip said on Monday that he intends to participate in the opening ceremony and see the games. He said that he has always visited the Olympic Games together with his family and paid the expenses himself, reports Postimees.
The Prime Minister is accompanied by security guards though since this is prescribed by the law, and the person to be protected has no right to give up the personal security guards or issue orders about that, said central criminal police spokesman Kaarel Kuusk.
Prime Minister bureau head Liina Kersna said that Ansip will be placed in the VIP area for the opening ceremony together with other state leaders, as the recipients don’t make a difference whether the prime minister pays for his on visit or is on an official visit to Russia.
Ansip has no official meetings planned in Sochi but he will visit a local Estonian village.
Latvia will be represented at the Olympic Games by the president, Lithuania by the prime minister.
Host of Raadio 2 talk show "About the Situation in the State" host Anvar Samost initiated on Sunday a collection of signatures on the internet against Ansip's visit to the Olympics. Samost said that the aim of Sochi Olympics is to prettify the activities of Russian president Vladimir Putin in restricting citizens' rights, freedom of speech and state of law. "Ansip's visit may seem like a small thing but it characterises the governing party as such – cynical pragmatism, setting personal interests on the foreground," said Samost.
The call "Let's help Andrus Ansip make the right decision" at the petitsioon.ee web page had collected 500 supporters by Monday evening.
Besides Ansip, Mayor of Tallinn Edgar Savisaar and foreign minister Urmas Paet intend to attend the Olympics. Paet attends it as president of Estonian Paralympics Committee at the end of February, at the expense of the Paralympics Committee.