A Center Party MP captured on video using his car to intimidate a protester outside Toompea Castle last Monday should be removed from the Riigikogu, senior journalists say.
Speaking on Vikerraadio politics discussion show "Rahva teenrid" Saturday, Mirko Ojakivi, Urmet Kook and Aivar Hündimägi agreed that the MP, Igor Kravtšenko , continuing in his seat, was an unacceptable state of affairs, adding the Center Party should pressure him to step down.
Urmet Kook, head of ERR portals, said: "I simply cannot understand how such a character can continue at the Riigikogu who uses their car with intent like that."
As reported on ERR News, the protester, Daniel Rüütmann, who has in the recent past been engaged in anti-lockdown protests on Toompea, was remonstrating with a Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) official and facing away from Kravtšenko's line of direction when the incident happened. He was also wearing a hood.
Kravtšenko's car approached him and stopped short of Rüütmann momentarily, only to edge forward until nudging him with the car, a black Volvo. Kravtšenko had seemingly been unaware of Rüütmann's presence until that moment.
Kravtšenko later returned on foot after parking the car in a space reserved for MPs close to where the incident took place, and entered the Riigikogu building, offering little comment to Rüütmann and other protesters or bystanders.
While Kravtšenko has since issued an apology over the incident via his social media account, adding that it was lucky noone was hurt, the "Rahva teenrid" panelists felt this was insufficient recompense.
"If he does not agree to leave [the Riigikogu], the party should demand that. I have also asked the chairman of the Center Party, Jüri Ratas, but his answer was that the man regrets it. This is not enough, I don't understand why they tolerate such actions," Urmet Kook went on.
Aivar Hündimägi, deputy editor of business daily Äripäev, concurred, adding that he found the behavior unsurprising given the party it is connected to, i.e. Center, adding that it was reminiscent of the Kalev Kallo corruption case.
Center seems to have adopted some kind of double standards, he added.
Kalev Kallo was a co-defendant in the long-running corruption case connected with Center's co-founder and former Tallinn mayor, Edgar Savisaar. He stepped down many months after being found guilty, by Harju County Court.
The incident could well have ended up with more serious results, Vikerraadio host Mirko Ojakivi added.
"When several tons of metal plus a driver who unaware of the activity at the time of the, and a pedestrian, who was to one side; leaving aside who the specific people were, but with a little more gas, that individual could have been catapulted on to the hood and suffered much more serious injuries," Ojakivi said.
The panel also pondered whether stronger steps had not been taken against Kravtšenko, simply because Jüri Ratas may need his vote in fall's presidential election.
Ratas has not declared himself as a candidate, but has been active touring Estonia in recent weeks, while his potential candidacy has been the subject of wide-ranging media speculation.
Urmet Kook said that, however, Ratas may be amenable both to Reform, who are in office with Center in government, and to Center's former coalition partner, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE).
From Center's perspective, fallout from former education minister Mailis Reps' expenses scandal last year, and falling rates of support in opinion polls, mean that the party could end up even more in the mire.
That the protester was not seriously injured (a later hospital report said he had sustained a minor injury – ed.) and the contact with the vehicle was only light was not an excuse, Kook added, and might even appear to make things worse for Center.
"What he did was a harsh act, and the continuation of this character at the Riigikogu is extremely unfortunate," Kook said, adding that Center are likely to be continually reminded of the incident for as long as Kravtšenko retains his seat.
Editor: Andrew Whyte