Leader of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE) Lauri Läänemets says that the departure from the Riigikogu of one of the party's MPs, Jevgeni Ossinovski, does not mean the latter is quitting politics. Ossinovski is in fact likely to run in next year's general election, Läänemets added.
Ossinovski will remain on Tallinn city government and is city council chair, following SDE's entry into coalition with Center after the October 2021 local elections.
Meanwhile, the party's remaining MPs are being reshuffled in terms of the Riigikogu committees they sit on, at Läänemets' behest.
Läänemets told ERR Thursday that the party had taken into account the likely exit of Ossinovski, a former SDE leader himself, from the Riigikogu, a move which was reported earlier that day.
Läänemets said: "This had to be taken into account, yes. The agreements and decisions were made a little earlier, when I became the chairman of the party, and now they have been implemented piecemeal."
Läänemets was elected SDE leader, replacing Indrek Saar, on February 5 this year.
Ossinvoski had backed former health minister Riina Sikkut as next party leader, in her run-off with Läänemets, and had informed Läänemets of his decision to leave parliament ahead of the announcement, the SDE leader said.
Läänemets added that there is no reason to doubt that Ossinovski will run in the upcoming Riigikogu elections, in March next year, Läänemets said, adding that Ossinovski had not confirmed that himself.
As to Ossinovski's replacement, Riigikogu electoral rules meant the seat went to Anastassia Kovalenko, a former SDE candidate who is now taking up the seat on behalf of Center.
"I would actually have expected the replacement to be a person who has been given a mandate by the SDE voters. Unfortunately, Kovalenko no longer wants to represent the views of the Social Democrats," Läänemets added.
The move means that Center, and with it the coalition, has gained a seat – Center now has 26 seats at the 101-seat chamber – while SDE, in opposition, is now down to nine seats.
Riina Sikkut now heads up anti-corruption special committee
The SDE musical chairs also sees Riina Sikkut replace Eduard Odinets as head of the Riigikogu's special anti-corruption committee, starting next Monday.
Odinets is now SDE Secretary General and finds the role time-consuming enough, hence his decision to step down from the corruption committee, an SDE spokesperson told ERR.
In addition, Odinets also sits on the constitutional committee, of which he is vice chair. His election to the post saw him leave the culture committee, with Jaak Juske taking the post, and Läänemets in turn moving into the vacuum left by Juske on the national defense committee.
Riina Sikkut will keep her chair on the Riigikogu's finance committee.
Of SDE's remaining MPs, including Indrek Saar who sits on the foreign committee, Raimond Kaljulaid is vice chair of the European Union Affairs Committee and also sits on the Economic Affairs Committee, Helmen Kütt is vice-chair of the Social Affairs Committee and Heljo Pikhof is vice-chair of the Legal Affairs Committee.
Ivari Padar sits on the rural affairs committee and Kalvi Kõva on the economics committee.
Läänemets confirmed to ERR that the reshuffle resulted from the change in party leader.
Jevgeni Ossinovski applied to leave the Riigikogu on Wednesday, to focus on his role as Tallinn City Council chair.
Riigikogu MPs may also hold local government seats, which around half of them do, with Tallinn being most practical since Toompea and the city government chambers are within walking distance of one another.
Anastassia Kovalenko recently married Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) and is now known as Anastassia Kovalenko-Kõlvart on Center's own social media page.
Editor: Andrew Whyte