Prosecutors: Detention of Community Center Head 'Not Political' ({{commentsTotal}})

Estonia-bashers abroad readied their pens Sunday evening after the detention of a community center leader for allegedly accepting an illegal gratuity, but prosecutors said it wasn't political.

Andrei Zarenkov, head of the Maardu community center, was detained by the police's central criminal investigations unit yesterday along with the individual who allegedly offered Zarenkov 1,000 euros for "organizing of events."

Zarenkov has been a person of interest for the national security agency, the Internal Security Service, due to his connections to elements in the Russian-speaking community reputedly hostile to the Estonian government. He was chairman of the onetime Estonian Constitution Party and is a board member with the Estonian Russian Compatriots Coordination Council.

Russia Today's blog reported the story, identifying Zarenkov as an "anti-Nazi leader," along with an unrelated photo of Estonian World War II veterans who fought on the Nazi side. 

The Prosecutor's Office said the affair was specifically related to the Maardu Community Center, which is funded by the city.

"This specific investigation concerns only the community center's economic activities and possible corruption. It's not in any way related to other suspicions that have run through the media, or the work of other investigative authorities," said Arno Põder, spokesman for the Northern District of the Prosecutor's Office.

An official for the community center, Nikolai Švets, said he was "mystified" and said the community center events were completely funded by the Maardu City Government, although, he said, vendors did pay for a slot at popular events like the Shrovetide festival in this town 20 minutes east of Tallinn.

"I don't understand what he could have taken a bribe for in the field of culture," he told ETV. "I can't imagine what you could accept a bribe for in this field."