Andrus Karnau: Minister of Rural Affairs likely to be replaced ({{commentsTotal}})

Minister of Rural Affairs Martin Repinski answering questions at a press conference held on Friday. Nov. 25, 2016.
Minister of Rural Affairs Martin Repinski answering questions at a press conference held on Friday. Nov. 25, 2016. Source: (Siim Lõvi/ERR)

Speaking on Sunday’s Raadio 2 broadcast of "State of the Nation," radio show host Andrus Karnau found that the scandal to break out last week involving Martin Repinski’s goat farm was likely to culminate on Monday in his replacement as a minister of the newly-installed Estonian government.

"The solution to the problem likely awaits us on Monday already, when the leadership of the Center Party will convene,” said Karnau. “It is very likely that [Prime Minister] Jüri Ratas will conclude that the Minister of Rural Affairs must be replaced, and precisely because the scandal involving Repinski’s goat farm doesn’t show signs of dying down.”

Show cohost Ahto Lobjakas found, however, that the concept of innocent until proven guilty should apply to Repinski as well, and asked whether his violations, were he to be found guilty of them, were great enough that he should definitely be removed from office because of them.

“Especially if we take into consideration that we have had other ministers accused of other things who have been left alone by the press,” Lobjakas noted.

According to Karnau, however, the explanations Repinski has provided regarding the goat farm scandal have been confusing, inconsistent and cause for concern.

“For me, the question regarding Repinski is, how can a goat be made a gardener?” Karnau posed. “How can the CEO and owner of an agricultural farm be made a minister? No matter what decision he makes as a minister, every one of his decisions could be regarded as a conflict of interest.”

Samost and Rumm: Media went too far with Repinski

Speaking on Vikerraadio’s Sunday afternoon broadcast of “Samost and Rumm,” hosts Anvar Samost and Hannes Rumm agreed that the Estonian media went too far in attacking Repinski over the past week’s scandal.

Unlike other people who had gotten by all their lives relying on their political party, Repinski has also lived a real life, which has involved running a goat farm near Voka in Ida-Viru County, paying and firing employees as well as maintaining work relationships, Samost found, whose sympathy for the minister continued to grow as he watched Repinski’s press conference in its entirety.

“He was poised, calm, did not respond to any provocations and, outwardly calm, responded for the fifth time in a row to the exact same question,” Samost recalled. “He even answered [questions] substantially, not robotically like [Reform MP] Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, and so we should ask instead whether the media isn’t going overboard in harassing Repinski.”
Rumm agreed, and found that he and Samost seemingly represented a minority in the Estonian media to feel this way about the treatment Repinski has received over the past week.

“What especially stood out was when a journalist from one of the most influential media channels announced that they were unable to get into Repinski’s goat barn but visited the neighboring village of Voka and talked to 71-year-old Leida, who told nasty stories about Martin Repinski,” said Rumm. “Look I’m sorry, but if 71-year-old Leida from the neighboring village is a news source, then what are we doing?”

Konju Farm's troubles

Last Wednesday's issue of weekly Eesti Ekspress brought financial issues with the goat farming business owned by the new minister to the attention of the public, also reporting that while Konju Organic Farm goat cheese, marketed as "Made in Estonia," is sold all over the country, Repinski's farm actually orders part of its goat cheese from Dutch firm De Molkerei.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas has since commented that if it was discovered that Repinski had paid his employees under the table, that would be a hard line for him as prime minister.

Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla

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