New information indicates that Minister of Rural Affairs Mart Järvik (EKRE), his ex-adviser Urmas Arumäe and farmer Rein Soosaar, who remains in conflict with the Agricultural Registers and Information Board (PRIA), have known each other for most of their lives, as they were classmates in early grade school, and that Soosaar is also the minister's distant relative.
Several local sources confirmed to daily Postimees that the three men in question have known each other since they were children, when Järvik and Soosaar attended Võidula Primary School together and Arumäe spent all of his summers as a child in the same village, daily Postimees writes (link in Estonian).
The trio, now at the center of a conflict of interest scandal, downplayed their connections, with Arumäe saying he was friends with Soosaar but only met Järvik as an adult, despite the latter having previously mentioned Arumäe in the context of the Võidula school in the media.
Soosaar also noted that he did attend the same school as Järvik, but that they weren't in the same class, and that he had seen the now-minister at village events, most recently years ago, but Järvik and Soosaar both served on the board of the village association together, and locals told the paper that both men were rather frequent attendees of village events.
Family trees also reveal that Soosaar is the stepson of Järvik's sister's partner, indicating yet another reason to question whether Järvik's decision as minister to not provide PRIA with the requested authorization in the Soosaar case, a matter in which the repayment of a €1.1 million subsidy hung in the balance, was influenced by these personal ties.
Editor: Aili Vahtla