Ratas: Decision about Repinski’s staying in office to be made early next week
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said on Friday that the scandals involving his government’s Minister of Rural Affairs, Martin Repinski (Center), had raised many questions, and promised to make a clear decision in this regard soon.
“Firstly, I sincerely regret that we’ve had to dedicate a large part of the first ten workdays of this government to the personal matter of Minister of Rural Affairs Martin Repinski. Because of that, many issues important to the Estonian people that the new government addresses on a daily basis have been left without attention. Secondly, I admit that a large number of questions concerning Martin Repinski has arisen by today,” Ratas said on Friday evening.
“I understand the public’s expectations and must make a clear decision concerning Martin Repinski in my capacity as prime minister. I will have an eye-to-eye meeting with him at the beginning of next week at the latest, and will announce my decision after that. I also offer my apologies to the Estonian public and government partners that our joint efforts to advance life in Estonia are overshadowed by unpleasant problems,” Ratas said.
ERR’s Estonian news portal reported on Friday that Repinski had received a conditional prison sentence for attempted fraud as a minor.
The Ida-Viru county court found Repinski guilty of attempted fraud and gave him a suspended sentence of three months with one year probation on Aug. 12, 2002.
It appears from the statement of charges that in October 2001 Repinski, who was aged 15 at the time, published an ad calling for donations to the Pühtitsa Convent at Kuremäe for the restoration of desecrated graves, adding to it the number of his personal bank account.
Although no donations were made to Repinski’s account, a criminal investigation was opened, as this had been an attempt at fraud.
Repinski pleaded guilty in court and accepted a settlement in a simplified proceeding.
“I sincerely regret this incident that happened almost 15 years ago. It’s a very personal and difficult topic for me, which I must apologize for and explain more thoroughly. My family was having a very difficult time then, with both my parents having lost their jobs in the oil shale sector, like it happened to hundreds of other families in Ida-Viru county at that time,” Repinski told ERR.
In his words, owing to the financial difficulties his parents could not even buy winter clothing for their children, and because of that he placed the ad calling for donations. “It was a very stupid thing to do, for which I apologize,” Repinski told ERR.
The convent turned to the police. After it learned that the ad had been placed by a minor, the convent wanted to withdraw the complaint, but it had been too late by then, Repinski said.
"As regards my subsequent exchanges with the Kuremäe convent, I’m very glad to have been able to help them as entrepreneur. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to make some amends for my youthful foolishness. By the way, the mother superior of the Kuremäe convent was the first person I rang up for advice on whether to accept the ministerial position. She gave me her blessing,” Repinski said.