The Center Party has continued to pay wages to party chairman Edgar Savisaar from party coffers. According to the party’s press secretary Taavi Pukk, the wages are on par with those of a member of the Riigikogu, and the party is covering Savisaar’s communication and transportation-related costs as well, including a specially equipped car and private driver.
“Yes, the Center Party is paying wages to the party chairman, as he is ostensibly unable to fulfill the duties of the Mayor of Tallinn and so is not earning any pay,” confirmed Pukk to Estonian news source Delfi (link in Estonian).
According to Pukk, the decision for the party to cover Savisaar’s expenses was made when he was removed by court order from the office of the Mayor of Tallinn.
Center Party Chairman Edgar Savisaar was removed from office in September 2015 after being named a suspect in a bribery case by the Estonian Internal Security Service (KaPo). Concerns that if he continued in office, Savisaar could use his position as mayor of the Estonian capital to influence witnesses in the case were cited as the reason for his removal from office.
“These expenses have been taken into account in this year’s budget, which was approved by the party’s leadership,” added Pukk.
As of mid-March, Savisaar has been suspected by the Office of the State Prosecutor of corruption, money laundering, and accepting illegal political donations. He has yet to stand trial, however, as pre-trial proceedings currently continue.