MP Martin Repinski, who left the Center Party this spring, gave his share of Riigikogu "protection money" to the Jõhvi congregation of the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Patriarchate of Moscow (MPEÕK). Repinski said he wanted to help fix up one of the most beautiful buildings in Jõhvi and the congregation in no way endorses Russia's war in Ukraine.
Even though a lot of this year's so-called Riigikogu protection money or direct support allocated by MPs will end up in the coffers of churches, independent Martin Repinski was the only one to support the Jõhvi Church of the Epiphany with a sum of €25,000.
The Center Party gave €5,000 to NGO Saint George Society that represents Orthodox values and supports MPEÕK charity projects.
Repinski's proposal also saw €10,000 allocated to football club FC Phoenix.
The politician told ERR that he has used "protection money" to support the same congregation in the past, contributing €75,000 the year before last, and aims his aid at those who would find it very difficult to secure funds from the state budget in some other manner. The Jõhvi congregation wants to use the money to help construct a Sunday school.
Repinski said that the idea goes back 10-12 years as planning and securing permits has taken a fair bit of time, while the Sunday school is almost ready now.
The MP said that he wants to contribute to children's mental development and that the Orthodox church in Jõhvi is a beautiful building that brings joy to both locals and visitors.
The Moscow Orthodox Church has justified the war in Ukraine, and Repinski admitted that it is a sensitive subject, which is why many are afraid to support MPEÕK congregations, adding that he has been criticized for it.
He said that he has known the people who run the church for years, and that Father Andrei is a dedicated man and not one to justify war or instruct others to do so.
"These things are completely separate for me. What happens in Russia, happens in Russia, while life in Ida-Viru County, this particular center and this particular church is something else entirely, and I know the money will be used to do the right thing," Repinski said.
Repinski also reaffirmed his decision not to run again in the 2023 Riigikogu elections in March.
Editor: Marcus Turovski