President approves continued use of Defense League in border control ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Defense League members on horseback in Ida-Viru County.
Defense League members on horseback in Ida-Viru County. Source: ERR

President Kersti Kaljulaid on Wednesday gave her consent to the minister of the interior to allow for the continued use of up to 150 members of the volunteer Estonian Defense League in support of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) for border control operations.

Under the Law Enforcement Act, Defense League members have been involved in restored border control in Estonia since March 17, and for a period of up to 30 days, according to a press release. As the 30-day period is up next, Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE) has indicated that he wants to extend the use of Defense League members under the Emergency Act until either no longer needed or through the end of the current emergency situation. The Estonian government is to discuss the proposal on Thursday.

Kaljulaid noted that while movement along Estonia's border and at its border checkpoints has decreased significantly, border control will have to continue through the end of the current coronavirus outbreak.

"In a situation where police workloads have increased with the implementation of several other movement restrictions and 2+2 measures, the involvement of Defense League members in the restoration of border control remains necessary and justified," the head of state said.

In accordance with the Emergency Act, under the government orders and with the approval of the president, the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) and Defense League may be involved in the regulation of traffic and ensuring of safety during an emergency situation

Horses deployed in East Prefecture

In cooperation with the Defense League, the East Prefecture of the PPA has begun serving border control duties on horseback in the vicinity of Ida-Viru County's Punamäe Station using two horses loaned out by a Defense League member, reported ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera."

The horses arrived from Rapla County on Tuesday and will assist in border patrol duties through Saturday.

"Locals clap and look; they haven't seen a horse here in 30 years," said Senior Sgt. Enno Ottis, head of the Defense League's Põltsamaa Company. "They don't ask what we're doing here either. We're in uniform; they know we're along the border."

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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