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Tartu municipality head suspected of grand embezzlement; rejects accusations

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Aivar Soop
Aivar Soop Source: (Siim Lõvi/ERR)

The head of Tartu municipality, not to be confused with Tartu city, a different local government, Aivar Soop is suspected of embezzlement of around 100,000 euros. Soop has rejected all accusations.

Police raided his office and other locations, and interrogated Soop, an IRL politician, on Monday.

According to the Prosecutor's Office, Soop is suspected of investing in and giving loans to a foundation he himself chairs, with municipality funds totaling 100,000 euros. He is also suspected of using the municipality's petrol card for fill up his personal vehicle.

“Personally, I do not see any fault, as I have acted to the best of my judgment and I believe I just have to survive this period,” he said.

The foundation, Emajõe Jõeriik, used the money to construct recreational areas on the shores of Amme river, a tributary to Emajõgi.

“As the contracts have been confiscated, I cannot be 100 percent sure, but with 99 percent assurance, I can say I have not signed the documents. Other people signed them,” Soop said.

Commenting on buying petrol for his own car, Soop said he has used his private car for municipality business when the official car has been in repair.

Soop is one of the longest serving local government heads in Estonia.

A previous version of the story did not have Soop's own comment and quoted the figure as 'over 40,000 euros' but that figure can be as high as 100,000 euros.

Editor: J.M. Laats

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