Repinski to continue as Minister of Rural Affairs
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) made the decision on Wednesday to keep Martin Repinski on as Minister of Rural Affairs. Repinski had faced massive criticism over the past few weeks for his questionable business practices, as well as for a suspended sentence for fraud he received when he was 15 years old.
Both the prime minister as well as the Center Party’s parliamentary group in the Riigikogu supported his staying on, Repinski told ERR on Monday. The party’s leadership will hear him on Monday evening, but is expected to follow Ratas’ decision.
The Center Party’s secretary general, Jaak Aab, commented that the leadership understood that Ratas wanted Repinski to continue. “We see him remain a minister, but he has to very clearly explain the events connected with him. More clearly than he has done so far,” Aab said.
The sentence issued against Repinski as well as his business’ bad press didn’t reflect well on the party, Aab added. But there had to have been a communication problem as well, as he hadn’t heard members of the party’s parliamentary group demand that Repinski step down.
Repinski was forced to apologize and offer explanations after it came out that the goat cheese sold by his Konju Farm had partially been of Dutch origin. Further reports also brought out that Repinski had made misleading statements about the storage life of the cheese, and that other aspects of his business have been problematic in the past, especially relating to statements he made about paying his employees, and paying taxes.
ERR’s Estonian news portal reported last week that Repinski had received a suspended sentence when he was 15. In what the minister explained as an act of desperation triggered by his family’s financial situation, the 15-year-old Martin Repinski published an advert asking for donations to a women’s convent, but added his own account number to it.