ISS Director: Kremlin not likely behind COVID-19 restrictions protests

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Protest on the Freedom Square. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Director General of the Internal Security Service (ISS) Arnold Sinisalu says that there is no evidence that the Kremlin is behind recent protests over restrictions arising as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

"The hand of the Kremlin is not behind things. There are many different actors. The public are protesting, which is one of the rights set out by the constitution," Sinisalu said, ahead of the publication of the 2021 edition of the ISS annual yearbook.

However, Sinisalu admitted that it is not entirely clear to him what people are protesting against exactly.

The ISS director noted that some people identified as Russians have been present at the protests, but that they cannot be considered agents provocateur.

"We can't comment on the people of interest," Sinisalu said. Whether these Russian people were Estonian citizens or those of the Russian Federation or elsewhere was not reported.

Spokesperson for the ISS, known colloquially in Estonia as the KaPo, Harrys Puusepp added that the public have the right to protest at present, but restrictions must be observed.

The Riigikogu has been picketed by dozens of individuals who have been wending their way over Toompea and environs for close to two weeks now, protesting in particular amendments to the Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Act which would beef up police powers and those of other authorities. Restrictions as a whole, including mask-wearing requirements, and the efficacy of vaccines, have also reportedly been issues for the protestors.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino, Andrew Whyte

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