Center Party board annuls agreement with United Russia

Center Party chairman Jüri Ratas.
Center Party chairman Jüri Ratas. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The Center Party has scrapped a controversial agreement it had signed with United Russia, Vladimir Putin's party, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported Saturday.

Center's chair, Riigikogu speaker Jüri Ratas, made a speech before the party's board at Center's Tallinn headquarters, saying that: "Today, with the Center Party's board, we confirm that the joint protocol on cooperation between the Estonian Center Party and United Russia, concluded in 2004, has expired, and is no longer valid."

Ratas added that his party condemned Russia's war on Ukraine, in its tenth day when the Center leader made the announcement on Saturday.

Center is in coalition nationally, with the Reform Party, and is the majority party in Tallinn's city government, as well as in several other municipalities.

United Russia will be informed about the development, AK reported.

The 18-year-old pact had long been a cause of friction and controversy and had been unpopular with the general public and other political parties for much of that time, AK reported.

Its co-signatories in 2004 were former education minister and current Center MP Mailis Reps and former MP Ain Seppik. Most of the other five Riigikogu parties sitting at the time strongly voiced their opposition to the agreement, seeing it as a political extension of Russian influence in Estonia, which had been an independent country for around 13 years by that time and joined the EU and NATO in the same year.

Then-leader of Center, Edgar Savisaar, dismissed criticism of the agreement from other politicians as being the result of envy on their part.

AK also asked Ratas why Reps had abstained on a Riigikogu vote late on February 23, condemning Russian aggression and calling for NATO and EU candidate status for Ukraine.

While nine of Center's 25 MPs were absent from the chamber for the vote, Reps was present.

Ratas said: "I have asked all these people why they did as they did. was is also the reason for the Riigikpgu group's statement on Friday, February 25, in which all 25 MPs condemned the attack on the Putin regime in Ukraine," adding that those who did not attend the preceding vote would need to reflect on that.

Ratas was unwilling to give comment on Reps' actions specifically.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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