Kohtla-Järve corruption scandal could lead to new coalition

Kohtla-Järve city hall.
Kohtla-Järve city hall. Source: Rene Kundla/ERR

Allegations of corruption leveled against the city leaders of Kohtla-Järve could end with a change of power in the eastern Estonian city. The three political factions represented in the local council want the city government to resign in order for them to form a new power coalition.

The Social Democrats, the Center Party and the Restart Kohtla-Järve electoral coalition are ready to begin negotiations with the view to forming a new coalition. They would have 14 votes out of a possible 25 on the council. There appears to be no other way out of the current situation in which eight people connected to the city's administration, including deputy mayors and councilors, have been accused of corruption.

"We are on the verge of a political disaster in this sense. This is a very shameful case and I hope that the people involved in this corruption scandal will either resign from their positions or suspend their mandate as councilors. We need to restore the trust of our voters," Ivetta Sakkart-Linnard, chair of the Center Party in Kohtla-Järve, told ERR.

"It now depends on how much of this political culture we have left in the city. Whether the mayor decides to resign or not. He is responsible for this city and for what is happening here," said Janek Pahkla, a member of the Kohtla-Järve city council representing the Restart Kohtla-Järve electoral coalition.

Kohtla-Järve's Social Democrats want to call an extraordinary session of the council to formally censure the mayor, but this could prove difficult.

"The chairman of the council himself is under suspicion, as is the deputy chair. If they, for example, simply don't convene (the council), it will be quite difficult. But under certain conditions, the councilors can also convene themselves, so to speak, if the leadership of the council does not do so," said Kohtla-Järve city councilor Eduard Odinets (SDE).

Kohtla-Järve Mayor Toomas Nael, said, that the city government would formulate a position regarding potential resignations on Monday.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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