EKRE MP steps down from ERR board over social media post backlash

Urmas Reitelmann (EKRE) has been elected to Estonia's PACE delegation.
Urmas Reitelmann (EKRE) has been elected to Estonia's PACE delegation. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Urmas Reitelmann, Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) MP and the party's representative on public broadcaster ERR's supervisory board, is stepping down from his post following a furor over a late-night social media post attacking ETV presenters.

EKRE spokesperson Holger Berg confirmed the move to ERR Monday morning.

Reitelmann had posted on his social media account late Thursday night and just hours after the coalition released a joint statement on Thursday afternoon that attacks on groups in society had no place in Estonia.

The brunt of Reitelmann's words fell on ETV current affairs show "Ringvaade" hosts Marko Reikop and Grete Lõbu, whom he referred to as "sodomites". Other presenters were criticised as "biased".

The post was removed by Friday morning but had already been widely publicly disseminated.

ERR supervisory board chair Rein Veidemann then proposed EKRE chair Martin Helme recall Reitelmann, appointed by the party, from the board, due to the incident.

Helme told ERR on Friday, however, that Reitelmann social media post did not constitute offensive words concerning ETV television presenters, adding that this was a relative term, though he added it was "recommended" not to offend people.

When asked by ERR's Arp Müller whether the post was nonetheless offensive, Helme answered that this depended on a person's point of view. "I imagine that those people referred to felt bad, concerned. This is relatively likely to be the case," he added.

Helme added that EKRE is not in the business of apologizing.

ERR's supervisory board consists of one representative from each elected Riigikogu party - currently five - along with three independent experts.

On Friday night, Reitelmann wrote on Facebook that he was considering leaving the board.

The joint declaration issued Thursday itself laid to rest a government split following interior minister Mart Helme's (EKRE) remarks to German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle's Russian-language portal, where he said gay people in Estonia ought to relocate to Sweden.

Reitelmann's replacement, who will be appointed by EKRE, is yet to be announced. Martin Helme was his predecessor as supervisory board member ahead of the party entering office for the first time in late April 2019.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste, Andrew Whyte

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