Helme refuses to name politicians behind recent fake news

Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE).
Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE). Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Fake news that made rounds on social media a week ago regarding the alleged introduction of movement restrictions and curfews came from opposition politicians, Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE) said. The minister refused, however, to name any specific names.

Helme, the chairman of the coalition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), said on Tre Raadio broadcast "Räägime asjast" on Sunday that the people who had disseminated fake news on social media a week earlier according to which the government intended to introduce movement restrictions in Tallinn and Harju County and halt the retail sale of alcohol had been identified.

"These sources have all been identified, yes," the minister said.

As the fake news spread, many people started stocking up on alcohol in stores and seriously discussing what "locking up" Harju County would mean until the government's crisis communications team managed to refute the news.

According to the interior minister's latest radio comments, "...these rumors and info operations regarding Estonia being shut down and the implementation of a curfew and everything else have come from opposition politicians."

He declined to respond when asked by ERR about who exactly these opposition politicians were who had acted so irresponsibly in the current time of crisis.

"Mart Helme's response to the question is that unlike the opposition, he is not going to start sowing hatred right now," the minister's communications adviser said.

"The minister does not want to deal with distractions during the crisis," they continued. "It is currently more important to find solutions for alleviating the crisis situation (including in cooperation with the opposition)."

Reform, SDE: Helme hasn't spoken to us

According to Kaja Kallas, chairwoman of the opposition Reform Party, the interior minister has not spoken to her about opposition politicians' involvement in spreading fake news, and she is unaware of whom Helme had in mind.

Indrek Saar, chairman of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE) said the same.

"Any propagation of panic and fake news is deplorable," Saar stressed. "The interior minister has a duty to share these identified sources with the public. He has not done so, and I don't know who he is talking about."


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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