Minister of Justice Maris Lauri (Reform) said that a bill to ban symbols that justify aggression or incite war might reach the Riigikogu by next week and could enter into force by May 9.
"The police currently have the right to talk to people about such things on grounds of maintaining law and order, while they have issued no fines. We have other symbols besides the letter Z, today used to justify aggression, such as five-pointed stars and swastikas that cause irritation. The matter has been deliberated in the past, while the question was raised whether that would also ban the use of the five-pointed star, for example, in plays and on drawings. Symbols depend on the context – as has happened with the letter Z and the Ribbon of Saint George recently," Lauri said on the "Vikerhommik" morning show.
The justice minister recalled that the letter Z used to stand for Zorro when she was young, while its meaning has changed in time.
"The idea of the bill is to create the basis for banning behavior where symbols and words of any kind are used to justify aggression or incite war. In cases where it goes beyond minor incidents. And so that criminal proceedings would follow where words do not suffice. The police can currently fine people and have a conversation with them. The Citizenship Act includes a section that allows people who support aggression to be stripped of their citizenship. But we do not have a situation where fines have proved ineffective for aggressive people."
Lauri added that while the aim is to create a section for such situations, she hopes people can be made to see reason without having to wield it.
"But this will not work for everyone. We will try to formalize the bill this week and hopefully send it to the Riigikogu next week. Draft legislation is still very new, and while work on it has been intensive, we need to discuss it more broadly."
The minister also said that people should feel more united in difficult times such as these.
"If certain people escalate matters, there are reasons for it. The simplest reason is stupidity, followed by personal interests. It can also be a combination of the two. People want attention and perhaps have a broader agenda. We cannot rule out that there are people who want Estonia to leave the EU and NATO. But the situation in Ukraine today begs the question of whether they are knowing Russian agents or simply useful idiots."
The minister added that Estonia has no politician who takes their orders from the Kremlin.
"There can be talking points similar to rhetoric out of the east. I can try to understand people who say that it would be great if Estonia was not part of any organization and would manage on its own. Even though it is naive, looking at our history. However, suggesting something like that under the circumstances is foolishness," she said.
Lauri said that many Russians living in Estonia have recently said their flag is the blue, black and white.
"They probably feel they have to pick a side. And we cannot say that a person's language and nationality determine their mettle. There are better and worse people among all nationalities.
Editor: Marcus Turovski