Mart Helme, deputy chairman of the Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE), has sent a warning of legal action to former MEP Indrek Tarand and ex-president Toomas Hendrik Ilves, demanding that both retract alleged slander within 10 days, stop the dissemination of incorrect information, and compensate him for non-material damage in the amount of €50,000.
Helme, minister of the interior, said he will go to court unless the demands are met.
In the warning of criminal action, Helme dismissed as untrue a claim made by Tarand to the weekly Eesti Ekspress and published in the August 4 edition of the paper, according to which Helme as the then ambassador of Estonia to Russia was caught by the internal audit of the Foreign Ministry at non-purposeful spending of 500,000 Estonian kroons (€32,000).
He also dismissed as untrue a claim made by Ilves to Eesti Päevaleht and published in the August 5 edition of the newspaper to the effect that Helme had problems with handling money and was recalled from the post of ambassador to Moscow due to unclarities related to spending.
Helme said that in none of the audits into the conduct of financial matters in Moscow was the criticism leveled against him.
"An ambassador engages minimally in administrative work, he is lacking the possibility to decide about the use of monies at his own discretion. Decisions about the use of budgetary resources in the ministry's area of administration are made and responsibility for them borne by the minister, the secretary general, the deputy secretary general and the head of the administrative department, but not the ambassador," said Helme, who served as Estonia's ambassador to Moscow from 1995-1999.
"It is also not true that Ilves recalled me from the post of ambassador to Moscow early. In fact, my posting was extended by a couple of months, and instead of being recalled, I assumed the job of deputy secretary general of the ministry after an in-house competition at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. What Tarand and Ilves have said is slander, and it only serves the goals of political score- settling. I issued a warning of legal action because slander must not be an activity which goes unpunished in Estonia," Helme said.
Editor: Helen Wright