Culture Minister Rein Lang Says He Will Step Down
Culture Minister Rein Lang told ETV Thursday night that he will resign after all, despite surviving a vote of no confidence earlier in the day.
"In such a situation there is no point in me sitting in the Cabinet. I can't get anything done anyway," said Lang, who has become deeply unpopular among many intellectuals in the wake of his role in coordinating a leadership change at a publicly funded culture weekly, Sirp.
"Yes, I will step down. I want to do so in front of Parliament, which is very reasonable, as I can deliver remarks there," Lang told "Kahekõne" host Indrek Treufeldt, fairly deep into a wide-ranging interview which did not appear to be leading up to such a revelation.
"I have something to say [to Parliament]. I have to say a thing or two personally to many Estonian journalists. I plan to deliver this speech passionately, as is my habit," he said.
Lang also discussed the protest campaign (written about earlier in the day) in which 40 cultural figures were photographed with their mouths taped shut.
"Is any one of those people who tapes their mouth shut hindered from publishing texts?" Lang said. "I'm shocked. Very astonished."
He also said conspiracy theories had a tendency to snowball and that people didn't really have an accurate picture of what had happened.
He defended the actions at Sirp, saying "what had to happen, happened," but unfortunately things went sour. He denied that the Reform Party played any role in deciding who would be editor.
Loss of trust
Some of the first signs that Lang might step down came yesterday, when Lang met creative unions and said he would consider resigning. Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said he thought it would be hard for Lang to continue.
This morning, a hastily called vote of no confidence led by the opposition Social Democrats and Center Party took place, but despite sympathies for the old Sirp among IRL, the opposition parties were unable to persuade the junior partner in the coalition to cross over.
The scandal started last week when writer Kaur Kender, who represents a different, brasher subculture from the previous senior editors at Sirp, was tapped by publisher Kultuurileht director Toomas Väljataga as interim editor in chief.
Kender was picked - allegedly by Lang himself - after a hiring round produced no good candidates in the view of the publisher.
He is expected to hold the reins until spring.