'Rahva teenrid': Was Mölder resignation result of security risk?

'Rahva Teenrid's presenters on Saturday, November 20 2021 - from left, Miko Ojakivi, Sulev Vedler and Martin Šmutov.
'Rahva Teenrid's presenters on Saturday, November 20 2021 - from left, Miko Ojakivi, Sulev Vedler and Martin Šmutov. Source: ERR

This week's resignation of Tõnis Mölder (Center) as environment minister was the subject of Saturday's edition of Vikerraadio politics talk show 'Rahva teenrid', with all three panelists querying whether Mölder had stepped down on his own initiative or was at least advised to do so by state security officials, given subsequent revelations that he had been suffering with a gambling addiction.

Sulev Vedler (Eesti Ekspress) said an addiction to gambling, which Mölder referred to in a social media post as a passion, focused solely on sports betting online, is a dangerous thing for a minister to have.

"A person can gamble themselves into debt, then comes the risk of corruption – they can get blackmailed. All these types of ills get exploited. The foreign intelligence of hostile countries is very vigilant," Vedler said.

At the same time, Vedler said that this vulnerability was now done away with, since Mölder had publicly admitted being a gambling addict (Mölder did not use the term in his social media statement – ed.).

Õhtuleht editor-in-chief Martin Šmutov, also appearing on "Rahva teenrid", questioned why Mölder had not made the admission at Wednesday's resignation announcement, rather than posting about it two days later.

Šmutov said:"It would have been better if the minister had made it clear at the first press conference that yes, I have a problem, and I'm dealing with it."

"Why not directly say what the problem is?" he continued.

"It is crucial for everyone to understand that this is a disease. It is a disease that cannot really be cured. This will never disappear from Tõnis Mölder's life. Maybe some psychologist will argue with me, but about 20 years ago I was myself a card player at a professional level and I have seen the curve of the graph of others' losses which, over the years, stretched into the hundreds of thousands," Šmutov went on.

Mölder, who had represented Estonia earlier in the month at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, cited on Wednesday personal issues and a desire to spend more time with his family as the causes of his sudden resignation.

Vedler said it was a matter of human shame. 

"It's very difficult to confess things, but in the end he did it. It's a very important step for a person to admit that," Vedler said.

ERR's Mirko Ojakivi stressed the fact that Mölder was a minister of the Republic of Estonia. 

He said: "Who has permission to access to state secrets and who does not is not public information, and we know that the ministers have access to state secrets due to their position. The Minister of the Environment is also exposed to information which may not be public – the situation with mineral resources, national defense facilities, the situation on Estonia's borders, and so on. It would be key to know if one day Mölder looked in the mirror himself and said that Mölder himself was having an interview with a person responsible for maintaining state secrets at some agencies."

This is still an unanswered question, Ojakivi added, and wondered if all the questions surrounding the resignation had all been answered.

Vedler said he thought they had.

"Rahva teenrid" was broadcast on Saturday, November 20 on ERR's Vikerradio channel and featured Martin Šmutov, Sulev Vedler and Mirko Ojakivi.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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