A city councilor from the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) has defended his actions in twice driving his car into a cyclist in Tallinn traffic as case of "emergency defense".
Mart Kallas, who chairs EKRE's Tallinn city council group, posted a video of the incident (see below), time-stamped from a little after 6.30 p.m. last Friday evening, on his social media account, and explained his actions in more detail to ERR's Madis Hindre, in an interview which follows in its entirety.
Hindre: Can you explain exactly what happened?
Kallas: What happened was this: I was at the [Tallinn] bus station, taking someone to their bus, when at the last moment I noticed a cyclist approaching in completely dark clothing, with absolutely no lights [on their bike]. They went there somewhat randomly, and I sounded the horn. Their reaction was, as you can see, to turn on me. I assume they were trying to make it seem as though I had run into them. Then I tried somehow to, let's say, carry out an emergency protection measure or something like that, I don't know. It seems that it succeeded.
Next and when the ambulance arrived on the spot, it transpired that they had suffered no injuries. The Police and Border Guard (PPA) arrived and filed it as a road traffic accident; I'm just about to carry out the insurance claim. The PPA also found that the cyclist was slightly intoxicated, but said that this was not significant.
You were able initially to stop, but what then happened after that?
Well, they kicked my car's radiator grille, then rode on. I really can't see into their mind. But I felt that they wanted to stage something. You have seen those incidents in Russia in any case, where people make an attempt to create some kind of accident and then start demanding some kind of compensation. Plus he threatened me and said he would find me and that I would regret that. Then I asked the police not to release my personal details, and we were kept separate (by the PPA officers – ed.). One officer dealt with the cyclist, the other, with me. The documentation was completed, and it was said that a procedure would be commenced. And there is nothing more than that.
I also saw from the video that he rode on a little further and then stopped. But you then accelerated. You ran into him at speed. Why did you do that?
I didn't drive into him, it was a short acceleration. I don't know how much you have driven a car, but I have held a drivers' license for 42 years and I know my car very well. It was a heat-of-the-moment reaction and from my side it was something of an emergency defensive measure. I felt like I was under attack. I repeat, he was very aggressive.
He was verbally aggressive and you were afraid he was going to attack you?
He was very aggressive both verbally and in his behavior.
And then you decided you were going to run him down with your car?
No, let's not interpret the incident that way. I certainly didn't run into him in a dangerous manner. I simply couldn't exit from the car or anything else. What alternatives did I then have?
I fended off the attack.
Did you fear that he would come and attack you there and then, in the car?
That too. He was certainly younger than I, he was aggressive and agitated. I get the impression from such an individual that he was one of those types of people who are not engaged in particularly pure deeds when cycling around the city at night in the dark like this, with a hood over their head, and wearing a mask. He was wearing completely dark clothing. I hardly noticed him. He kicked my radiator.
And on this you based your decision?
Then he parked his bike to on side, as if he wanted to park the bike and come at me physically...and when I am sitting in the car with my seat-belt on, I am in a vulnerable state, and I didn't know what he was going to do.
But you didn't consider that you could instead have reversed, instead of going forwards?
Now I totally do not understand your logic.
Well, if there was a cyclist in front of you...
I should start reversing against the flow of the traffic?
Was there another car behind you?
I assume so. I really didn't get a chance to look in the mirror, then start looking in the mirror and backing up. This thought absolutely did not come to me.
You must understand that I watched that video, and I think you were certainly in the wrong.
Well, if you feel that way, then so be it. In this case, my party affiliation certainly provides you with such opportunities to attack me.
The party affiliation is irrelevant. I am simply recalling the Igor Kravchenko incident. This caused some trouble too.
No, the two things are absolutely not comparable /.../ Again I repeat once more. The individual was under the influence of alcohol. In the dark. And how are you trying to portray me as guilty now. Let the police consider this matter.
I'm not trying to do anything. Perhaps the fault will be found to be with the young man instead. It's not every day that you see such things happening in traffic.
No – I agree that it's not something you see every day – but that's the way it is, essentially; cyclists are of such a mind that normal rights do not apply to them in society. Traffic rules do not apply to them. Then drivers are put in a situation where they have to have eyes in the back of their heads, to see how [cyclists] will move and so on. I see anarchy in this cityscape on a daily basis, absolutely.
Mart Kallas was talking to Madis Hindre of ERR's radio news.
PPA: Aggressive behavior unacceptable on the part of either party
Raul Annuka, the head of the PPA's traffic monitoring center emergency procedure group, told ERR that both parties had behaved aggressively during the incident, adding that and the matter needs a closer investigation.
Annuka said: "On the evening of October 28, the PPA were called to Lastekodou tänav, where there had been a traffic accident between a Škoda car and a cyclist. The parties at the scene could not reach an agreement on culpability, so a PPA patrol was called to establish the circumstances. The aggressive behavior seen in the video is not acceptable on the part of either party. We have started to clarify the circumstances of the incident procedure."
Regional daily Virumaa teataja reported (link in Estonian) that the as-yet unnamed cyclist was from Lääne-Viru County.
This article was updated to include comment from the PPA, and the report from Virumaa teataja.
Editor: Andrew Whyte