Centre MEP chides party colleague for Kaljulaid Russia visit stance

Centre/ALDE MEP Yana Toom has expressed dismay over party-mate Maria Jufereva-Skuratovski's counseling against president Kersti Kaljulaid visiting Moscow for the May 9 Victory Day celebrations. Jufereva-Skuratovski had said that the visit could inflame tensions, while Toom noted that there are many such issues in society which have the potential to inflame tensions, and yet are discussed with a view to finding solutions.

Toom said that she was patient, but this patience had its limits, according to ERR's Estonian online news.

Centre is the only one of the five parliamentary parties which has not opposed President Kaljulaid making the trip, which has only been discussed and not finalized.

Kaljulaid was in Moscow in April and met with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Jufereva-Skuratovski made her remarks on Wednesday's edition of ERR current affairs discussion broadcast Otse uudistemajast.

Talking to Toomas Sildam, Jufereva-Skuratovski said the visit would not be wise as it may inflame tensions.

"I'm a patient person, but only to a degree," Toom wrote, on her social media account.

"I noticed the [Otse uudistemajast] interview...and it made me very angry," Toom went on.

"I could never have dreamed that my fellow party member, who is head of the Estonian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) matches 100 percent with the views of [Reform Party MP] Erik-Niiles Kross, and additionally, support [Riigikogu representative to PACE Urmas] Reitelman's candidacy. OK, let's call that a compromise," Toom continued.

EKRE MP Reitelmann was endorsed as a Riigikogu delegate to PACE last month. Russia's full voting rights were restored to PACE in May, an act which provoked a strong backlash in Estonia, with President Kersti Kaljulaid calling the decision "shameful".

"But where is the compromise on the question about May 9?" Toom continued.

Toom added that Jufereva-Skuratovski could at least have questions concerning the role of the Soviet Union in the victory over fascism. 

"Or maybe this is for Maria's voters? Maybe I'm left behind here in Brussels," Toom continued, noting that there were plenty of other controversial topics on the table, including the so-called gray passports for persons of indeterminate citizenship/stateless persons, Russian language in education etc., as well as the issue of constructive relations with Russia, something the Centre Party remained popular for for many years, Toom said.

Toom also recalled the actions of Vladimir Velman, a former Centre MP who was a lone voice in opposing Estonia's participation in military operations in Iraq.

"He, too, did that because he believe it was the right thing to do. But I am ashamed," Toom went on.

Last month, President Kaljulaid also extended an invitation to her Russian counterpart to attend the VIII World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples in Tartu this summer, but it is not known yet if that will happen either.

The original Otse uudistemajast broadcast (in Estonian) featuring Maria Jufereva-Skuratovski is here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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