MEP Jaak Madison (EKRE) has been removed from his role as an auxiliary police officer, he says, following public remarks he made on participation in mass protests against coronavirus restrictions. One such protest took place Sunday in central Tallinn.
"As of April 5 this year, I am no longer an auxiliary police officer," Madison wrote on his social media account Monday morning.
"It's not the case that I got bored of it or gave up due to lack of time. I was released from my status as auxiliary police officer, because I expressed certain political and worldview opinions via [news portal] Objektiiv. The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) was of the opinion that publishing political and worldview views was contrary to its code of ethics for officials.
An auxiliary police officer (Abipolitseinik) is as its name suggests a voluntary body of people who provide support to the PPA in their activities, including patrolling.
Objektiiv is a portal run by family-rights group the Organization Foundation for the Protection of the Family and Tradition (SAPTK). Madison is EKRE's sole MEP and was elected in May 2019.
"In concrete terms, on January 14, as a guest of a video broadcast on Objektiiv, I discussed how Estonian citizens could in theory act if the government were tp start to enforcing laws which are unconstitutional. Among other things, I said that if the government were to pass a hate speech law, the public must not accept it, but [instead] hold mass demonstrations, while petitions, campaigns and filibustering at the Riigikogu must be organized," Madison went on.
"When presenter Varro Vooglaid noted that protests could not be held during the coronavirus crisis, I found that there were situations where we would need to resist. We also discussed the fact that if the government wanted to ban weapons en masse, in the future, on any pretext, opposition to this would need to start, even to the extent of accepting a misdemeanor fine, but legally-owned weapons should not be turned in," he added.
The interview was given as the national coalition EKRE was in together with Center and Isamaa collapsed, following corruption allegations involving a Tallinn real estate development. Reform entered office with Center.
The Center/EKRE/Isamaa coalition had implemented coronavirus restrictions via government order, once a national emergency situation – a constitutionally-defined term – was declared in mid-March 2020. While this situation expired in mid-May last year, law changes mean that the national government has greater powers without an emergency situation than was previously the case.
Sunday's protests, which followed similar events over the preceding days in central Tallinn, included a focus on the communicable diseases act Madison mentioned; amendments to this would beef up police and other authorities' powers.
Madison went on in his post to say that he was speaking on the Objektiiv broadcast in his capacity as an MEP rather than as an auxiliary police officer, but that the authority had called him to e-interview on January 27, saying that the public might interpret his words as being the official PPA position.
The PPA also found that his status as member of an elected political party is relevant and one which means he should not run counter to the current coalition, Madison said.
Madison also claimed that in 1939, forcible surrendering of firearms had preceded Estonia losing its independence (in the following year), and denied he had acted inappropriately in view of his position as an auxiliary police officer, a role which he said he had kept separate from political life.
Madison also referred to the January collapse of the former coalition as a coup d'etat, and that his situation should be heard by a court, and that he has taken legal representation from a well-known lawyer.
The MEP said that he had worked as an auxiliary police officer since 2017, logging a total of 1,425 working hours during that time. The role is unpaid in all cases.
Martin Helme: Crackdown has become a self-fulfilling prophecy
EKRE leader Martin Helme also took to his social media account following Sunday's events, saying that protests had been the subject of a media blackout for the week preceding, "… broadcasting a farcical and false pushing of pro-government buttons in order to create a suitable negative backdrop, while now the weekend's events have helped create a harsh overreaction via idiotic 'news' which would be palatable to the general public.
Helme said that if the protests continue, social media channels not toeing the official line would be closed down, something which he said had happened in the U.S. in January. "The masks have fallen away in any case," Helme wrote.
Helme was writing on his Facebook account, one of the media channels he says is subject to such censorship, but went on to recommend users transfer to alternative social media channels – many of them reported internationally as favored by those on the right and in the wake of former U.S. President Donald Trump's ejection from Twitter.
Editor: Andrew Whyte