Rural affairs minister's adviser steps down ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Urmas Arumäe stepped down as advisor to rural affairs minister Mart Järvik following revelations he acted in his capacity as a lawyer against an organization which falls under the ministry's remit.
Urmas Arumäe stepped down as advisor to rural affairs minister Mart Järvik following revelations he acted in his capacity as a lawyer against an organization which falls under the ministry's remit. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

An adviser to rural affairs minister Mart Järvik (EKRE) has resigned following a controversy over conflict of interest.

The adviser, Urmas Arumäe, wrote to the ministry and the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) saying he would no longer be working as an adviser to Järvik, which he had been doing since May on a part-time basis.

After starting work for Järvik, Arumäe, a lawyer, reportedly continued to work on a case where he was defending eight people accused misappropriating EU funds from the Agricultural Registers and Information Board (PRIA), which falls under the rural affairs ministry's remit.

The prosecutor's office has also opened up a criminal investigation into the affair.

EKRE chair Mart Helme commended Arumäe for the decision and expressed his hope that the criminal case against him is unfounded, and that no conflict of interest is in fact detected.

"However, it is clear that in a situation where a politically motivated criminal case has been instituted against the adviser, the minister will not be able to carry out his work normally. I applaud Arumäe for his decision to withdraw from the counseling agreement," said Helme.

Mart Helme doubled down on his support for Järvik, who is also embroiled in controversy over when he first became aware of a Listeria outbreak traced to an Estonian fish processing planet which killed two people in the country, and several more Europe-wide.

"The Minister of Rural Affairs has done a very good job. The attacks against him must be taken as a sneaky information operation for the Reform Party and the Socialists," Helme said.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) said he planned to meet Järvik, who was in China when the Estonian media first reported the Arumäe criminal case and conflict of interest, on Monday, to discuss both controversies.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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