Mart Järvik, former Estonian minister of rural affairs, told residents during a meeting in the small southwestern town of Tori on Tuesday that he found a covert listening device in his office at the ministry when serving as minister of rural affairs, regional daily Parnu Postimees reported.
"How many there are, I don't know. I received a device from Henn Polluaas that shows them," the former minister from the Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE) said, referring to speaker of the parliament Henn Põlluaas.
Järvik said he found the covert listening device in structures of the ceiling above the desk in the office of the minister of rural affairs.
"There are very high ceilings there and you can't see far enough even standing up on the desk. So I didn't quite get to see what exactly was there behind the plasterboard, but the noise was loud," he said during the meeting in the community center of Tori.
The former EKRE minister said he sent an official letter to Interior Minister Mart Helme for the building of the Ministry of Rural Affairs to be swept of bugs.
Jarvik also told the crowd that Prime Minister Jüri Ratas is very strongly prone to follow the decisions of the council of secretaries general of government ministries.
"The secretaries general get together every month, and that's the headquarters of the deep state," Jarvik said. "It's pure Reform Party atmosphere there."
Järvik was unable to say how the chains of command that get their start there are arranged, but argued that the prime minister has put before the Cabinet several bills which hadn't passed through the usual interministerial round of approvals. According to Järvik, this is a place where the law is clandestinely violated.
The former minister was also highly critical of the Veterinary and Food Board (VTA), saying that the bylaws of that institution must be changed to set forth that the institution's director general must be a veterinarian by training, as it used to be earlier.
"At one time a person with incomplete education in law, with whom Urmas Kruuse had gone to school together in Elva, emerged as the director of VTA," Järvik said, referring to opposition Reform Party MP and former minister of rural affairs Urmas Kruuse.
According to Järvik, the head of VTA should be the highest-ranking veterinarian in Estonia. At present a merger of VTA and the Agricultural Board is underway, and the chief of the new institution should have a degree in veterinary medicine.
"Otherwise compliance with food safety requirements won't be ensured. This is so sensitive a topic that the chief must be versed in everything," Järvik said.
Editor: Helen Wright