EKRE chair: Ott resignation illustrates failure of government Covid policy

Martin Helme at the October 23 anti-vaccination protest in Tallinn.
Martin Helme at the October 23 anti-vaccination protest in Tallinn. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) chair Martin Helme says that Anneli Ott was the last government minister who needed to resign amid the ongoing pandemic.

Writing on his social media account Tuesday, Helme, whose party is in opposition, but was in office when the coronavirus first arrived, said that: "[Minister of Health and Labor] Tanel Kiik is leading us from crisis to crisis, but the person who resigned is the minister who best illustrates how utterly failed the current coronavirus policy is.

"It is becoming increasingly clear every day that vaccinated people get infected, infect others, are hospitalized and die, but the things halted are testing, plus enabling of normal work that this would allow, for those who do not want to get vaccinated," Helme continued.

Helme added that the shortfall in revenue for companies selling coronavirus testing kits is being plugged by the requirement to regularly test schoolchildren and teachers.

Ott was also sacrificed by her own party, at Reform's altar, Helme added.

"Anneli Ott's departure from the government was likely because her own party did not offer her any support. [Prime Minister] Kaja Kallas is not even hiding her satisfaction over taking that scalp. The path is now open to some very unpleasant developments," Helme aded.

"From this point, it will now be possible to start declaring an emergency situation. This is necessary in order to establish restrictions without the state having to pay compensation to the companies to be shuttered. At least, that was the position of the Government Office when we were in office," he went on.

"Ott made a clear reference to supporting the cultural sector; my takeaway from this was that she did not agree with lockdown, or at least she did not agree to it without compensation. No person, no problem," Helme continued, alluding to the words of Joseph Stalin during the Great Purges.

Rumors of a reshuffle of Center ministers followed Ott's resignation as reported by investigative weekly Eesti Ekspress; while Ott had been under pressure for not getting vaccinated and after clashes with culture sector workers, Tanel Kiik, health minister while EKRE was in office with Center and Isamaa when the coronavirus first arrived in Estonia, has been under pressure also, particularly as coronavirus figures soar in Estonia to among the highest in Europe.

Ott gave as her official explanation on resigning on Tuesday a difference of opinion with the government line and Reform's in particular. She also said she had started, though not completed, a coronavirus vaccination program, meaning most likely she had received one dose but not two.

Martin Helme, his father Mart Helme – the party's founder and former leader – and other EKRE and EKRE-affiliated public figures attended an anti-lockdown, anti-vaccinations protest in Tallinn's Vabaduse väljak on Saturday, October 23.

An elected EKRE Tallinn city councilor, Piret Remmak-Grassmann, quit the party following the protest, as did several other leading members. Remmak-Grassmann will remain in office as an independent.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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