VIDEO: Savisaar Hounded by Reporters Upon Returning From Russia
Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar was met by reporters Thursday upon returning from a Moscow trip that came under criticism for its timing, and recent comments made to Russian media that suggested he thought the Crimean referendum was legitimate (later clarified by Savisaar).
The video encapsulates some current media trends: the more dogged style of the press corps as well as the mayor's penchant for withering condescension that has helped win him Enemy of the Press awards. Because of the busy nature of the exchange, we've provided the translation as a transcript rather than subtitles.
SAVISAAR [counting reporters, evidently tipped off to an "ambush"]: One, two three. Disappointingly few. Very few …
WOMAN OFF CAMERA: Sorry, we have to keep on moving. We're pressed for time.
SAVISAAR: [waves her off] Let me talk to them. I'll talk to them.
REPORTER: So why is it that just now, when Putin delivered his triumphal speech on the annexation of Crimea, did you find you had to go to Moscow -
SAVISAAR: Happy to answer. In my political career I have delivered lectures at some 50 universities from Bath to St. Petersburg University. This particular presentation at the Academy of Foreign Policy was agreed on October last year and these things are never arranged in a day. Second of all ...
REPORTER: Was the Crimean referendum legitimate? Was the -
SAVISAAR: Please, let me answer. There was no talk about the Crimean referendum in my presentation, by the way. Nor in the questions. If you look at what I spoke about, it's on the Delfi [news site], as you know. I talked about inter-city cooperation.
REPORTER: But your opinion?
SAVISAAR: Allow me to answer. The fact that some girl from RIA Novosti, very much like you, by the way - and an academic said afterwards he didn't know if she was a provocateur or just stupid, she was one of the two. She kept on asking, but I was explaining something totally different, and what I said was that Estonia's independence occurred without any bloodshed, and had the same thing happened on the Maidan, Ukraine would have benefited greatly. [Lays hand on reporter’s shoulder.] Go and learn from RIA Novosti. You're so much like that girl.
REPORTER: Did you meet -
SAVISAAR: I met tens of people. I understand everyone is pressed for time; we are electing the Board of the Parliament today on Toompea. But I wanted to talk about something else. I was at a big festival, the Voice of Spring, where young people, disabled young people, performed. These were young people who can't see or hear but sing very well. I had the idea of organizing the same kind of concert in Estonia. These were youths who left a deep impression on all the concertgoers. I was happy that I made it to that concert. That was the most important thing.
REPORTER: Did you meet Russian Federation representatives?
SAVISAAR: Of course. I don't know whether to consider the rector of the Russian Diplomatic Academy of the Foreign Affairs Ministry a government representative; he was representing his academy. At the festival in question, I sat next to [Russian Railways head Vladimir] Yakunin. Naturally, we conversed. As to other meetings … but how much time do you have at a festival? Thank you.
REPORTER: Will you bow out of running for European Parliament?
SAVISAAR: Where did you hear something like that?
REPORTER: There are rumors to that effect.
SAVISAAR: Listen. Go and ask RIA Novosti, why don't you. Good day.
QUESTION OFF CAMERA: There was discussion in the Center Party about possibly cancelling cooperation with United Russia.
[Savisaar is followed out of the terminal.]
SAVISAAR: Don't think up all sorts of things. You fellows drink too much beer and then you think up all sorts of things.
REPORTER: I'm a teetotaller, I don't drink beer.
SAVSAAR: I want to know who ran into me. What channel are you from?
REPORTER: Wait, don't touch that microphone, sir.
SAVISAAR: I'm going to touch that microphone as much as you use that microphone to touch my nose.
REPORTER: I didn't touch your nose.
SAVISAAR: I think some other channel has it on tape.
REPORTER: Instead of getting upset, you could talk about your positions.
SAVISAAR: I just gave you a long interview.