Minister of Internal Affairs Lauri Läänemets (SDE) will propose nominating Margo Palloson as the new head of the Internal Security Service (ISS) and Margo Klaos as Rescue Board director.
Palloson currently works at ISS' counterintelligence department, while Klaos heads up Rescue Center South.
The interior minister said that he considered several candidates for the post of ISS director, all of them the agency's employees.
"The important thing was to find a person from inside the system. He [Palloson] has leadership experience and is held in high esteem by his colleagues," Läänemets said, adding that the incoming ISS chief has also been decorated by the president.
Läänemets described Margo Klaos as a long-time Rescue Board employee and a respected leader inside the organization and among local government heads.
"Another thing speaking in Klaos' favor is the fact he has led preparations for Estonia's civil defense concept. Because the Rescue Board is increasingly a civil defense organization, I found that a person who has been working on this particular vision could also run it," the minister suggested.
Palloson: Russia was, is and will remain a threat to Estonia
Candidate for ISS director Margo Palloson said that he is a lifelong security officer who has spent 20 of his 42 years working at ISS, the last 12 as an executive.
"I presently head up an intermediate level structural unit. My work priorities are counterintelligence and protection of the constitutional order. In other words, opposing threats emanating from the Russian Federation. Russia was, is and will remain a threat to Estonian security," Palloson said.
He highlighted three major challenges in his future post. Maintaining accurate threat assessment in the current situation, domestic and foreign partnerships and continued development of the organization and its capabilities.
Palloson has defended a master's thesis on the role of the Orthodox Church as an instrument of Moscow's soft power in Moldova. He said that this particular work was pursued out of academic interest.
"Of course, the Internal Security Service pays attention to all persons of influence from Russia in Estonia and whether their statements and actions cross any red lines," he added.
Klaos: Civil defense has been overlooked for 30 years
Candidate for Rescue Board director Margo Klaos said that he has worked in rescue for 28 years, most of it in executive capacity. Klaos, who currently heads Rescue Center South, has been in charge of the Järva County Rescue Service in the past. He highlighted civil defense development as his main challenge.
"The Rescue Board has been given a new task – developing civil defense. A field that has seen no development for the last 30 plus years. The board has a central role in making sure civil defense finds a secure footing."
Klaos added that he is taking over a well-oiled organization and is not planning any major reforms, emphasizing the continued importance of the network of rescue commandos and efforts at prevention.
Both directors are appointed by the government following the interior minister's proposal for a term of five years. The candidate to run the Rescue Board must be presented to the Riigikogu Legal Affairs Committee and the ISS chief candidate to the legal affairs and security agencies monitoring committees.
Läänemets: PPA manned by 'our people'
While the term of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) director is also ending, Läänemets did not have a person for that post yet. Veiko Kommusaar, the Ministry of Internal Affairs' undersecretary for internal security, is considered the favorite, while Läänemets suggested there are several candidates.
The minister added that the fact ISS and Rescue Board chief candidates were found from within the organizations does not mean the government does not trust the PPA.
"Everyone working at the PPA are "our people." Veiko Kommusaar came to the ministry from the PPA. He has also been in charge of planning," Läänemets explained. The interior minister said he will present the next PPA chief to members of the government next week.
ISS heads since 1991:
- 1991–1993 Jüri Pihl (head of security police at the Estonian Police Board)
- 1993–2003 Jüri Pihl
- 2003–2008 Aldis Alus
- 2008–2013 Raivo Aeg
- 2013–2023 Arnold Sinisalu
Rescue Board directors since 1991
- 1991–2000 Harry Hein
- 2000–2006 Mati Raidma
- 2008–2013 Kalev Timberg
- 2013–2023 Kuno Tammearu
Editor: Marcus Turovski