Ukraine Crisis Taking Its Toll on Center Party ({{commentsTotal}})

The Center Party won the most support in January's poll.
The Center Party won the most support in January's poll. Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

Daily Eesti Päevaleht today reported a rift in the Center Party: some have criticized chairman Edgar Savisaar over his views of the crisis in Ukraine, while others are avoiding the topic.

The first major clash came at the beginning of March when one Center Party MP voted against and a number abstained from voting for a Parliament motion to support Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Six Center Party MPs were among those 63 MPs who initiated the bill, the daily reported today.

IRL created a similar draft law to be voted on by the Tallinn City Council, where the Center Party holds an absolute majority, but the session where the vote was to take place was canceled, with IRL's Eerik-Niiles Kross saying the reason was that the party does not want to vote on the issue.

Savisaar has been pressured to speak for Russia by a number of pro-Russia party members, including Mihhail Kõlvart, Mihhail Stalnuhhin (the lone “against” vote in Parliament), and Yana Toom, the daily reported, adding that the "for" and "against" division does not follow ethnic lines in the party.

A number of ethnic Estonian party members have avoided the topic. Savisaar himself has stayed out of the limelight recently.

The unity of the party could be tested again soon, as the Social Democrats are preparing a second no-confidence vote against the mayor, after a Reform Party vote failed in mid-March.