Rüütel Condemns Politician's Racist Remarks ({{commentsTotal}})

Former president Arnold Rüütel
Former president Arnold Rüütel Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

Former Estonian president Arnold Rüütel has taken a stand against racist remarks made by Martin Helme on Tallinn TV last week.

Rüütel is the honorary chairman of the Conservative People's Party, where Helme is a board member.

Rüütel told Postimees there was no justification for treating people differently based on the color of their skin, condemning Helme's commentary.

At the same time, Rüütel is a supporter of Estonia's conservative migration policies, saying that Estonia's population is under threat from massive outflow of young people, migration to urban centers, and a push for "opening the faucets“ to immigrants. He pointed to the fact that the share of non-ethnic Estonians in the population jumped from 12 to 40 percent between the 1920s and 1991.

Helme's comments from last week included “If you're black, go back” and “I want Estonia to be a white country.” Though the party was supported by just 3 percent of voters in April and is not represented in the legislature, Helme's openly racist statements have resonated through the media and drawn condemnation from Parliament's human rights group.