How Scandal Around Estonian Prime Minister Could Affect Ukraine

Wednesday, 30 August 2023

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has found herself in a highly publicised scandal. It turns out that a company in which her husband Arvo Hallik owns a stake continued to run business with Russians even after the full-scale invasion.

This situation is particularly outstading since Kallas had repeatedly called on Estonian businesses to cease cooperation with Russian companies without waiting for new sanctions.

Thus, it's not surprising because of this scandal the Prime Minister's approval rating sharply dropped. The majority of Estonians are advocating for her resignation.

Read more in an article by EuroPravda editor Yurii Panchenko Family Business with Russian Trace: Consequences Following Scandal Around Estonian Prime Minister.

Reporters from the ERR outlet have managed to uncover that the company Stark Logistics, in which the Prime Minister's husband Arvo Hallik holds shares, did not discontinue its cooperation with Russian businesses even after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

It was revealed that this company actively collaborates with the Estonian firm Metaprint, a plant in Russia producing aerosol packaging.

Before this scandal, Kaja Kallas had not given any grounds for accusations of double standards.

Especially in relations with Russia.

During her governance, Estonia became an unequivocal leader in providing military support to Ukraine (in proportion to GDP), decided to send all its 155mm howitzers to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and outpaced other countries in the matter of confiscating Russian assets and transferring them to Ukraine.

That's why this scandal turns out to be so powerful. Even despite statements from the Estonian Security Police that the activities of Stark Logistics do not violate sanctions laws and, thus, they see no reason to change Kallas's level of access to state secrets.

However, the Prime Minister's behaviour has only added more fuel to the fire.

She refused to attend a parliamentary session to provide all the necessary testimony, limiting herself to a few interviews and an address where she stated that she does not intend to resign.

At the same time, Kallas insists that she was not aware of all the details of her husband's business. Moreover, he has already announced an emergency exit from the company, "selling his shares for the price of a sandwich" – a move the Prime Minister interprets as his punishment for cooperating with Russia.

Is the head of the Estonian government really becoming a victim of her husband's actions?

We cannot rule that out. However, it looks rather odd that a high-level politician doesn't verify information that could have an extremely negative image effect.

This has impacted the Prime Minister's support among Estonians. Polls already show that the vast majority of Estonians believe that the Prime Minister should resign.

This scandal won't affect Estonia's foreign policy orientation and its support for Ukraine.

The problem lies elsewhere. This scandal undermines the demands on businesses to sever economic ties with Russia.

We can expect some companies to reconsider returning to such cooperation with Russia.

The fact that this concerns a country that is a leader in supporting Ukraine intensifies these challenges.

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