EPL, Delfi nominate Kaja Kallas most influential Estonian of 2022

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas.
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas. Source: Government Office.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) has been voted most influential person in Estonia for 2022, by daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) and portal Delfi.

Kallas beat out Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) commander Lt Gen. Martin Herem and Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) chief Elmar Vaher, in second and third places respectively, on the list (link in Estonian).

Delfi and EPL both belong to the Ekspress Group, while the two publications' editor-in-chief, Urmo Soonvald, noted in a separate editorial that of the top 10 most influential Estonians for this year, seven of them can be summed up by the keywords "Ukraine war", with this effect extending far further down the rankings also.

Soonvald said: "Both in the top ten, and the top hundred, of most influential people, there are many figures whose lives were transformed completely from February 24," referring to the date of the start of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, which also happens to be Estonian Independence Day.

"The fact that Kaja Kallas has focused on supporting Ukraine and 'translating' Russia for the entire globe was not of the prime minister's own choosing, but was the only path open to her," Soonvald went on.

Kallas had been a frequent fixture in the international mainstream media on both sides of the Atlantic, not only in English but also in major publications in France, Germany and elsewhere, even before the invasion, but this surged further after February 24 this year.

The prime minister has been able to bring her own experiences in spending her childhood under Soviet occupation, among other insights, to the table.

Outside the top three, Minstry of Defense Secretary General Kusti Salm lies in fourth place, electricity grid distributor Elering CEO Taavi Veskimägi is in fifth, and head of the Slava Ukraini NGO Johanna-Maria Lehtme came sixth.

The rest of the top 10 consists of Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) leader Martin Helme, outgoing chief of the Internal Security Service Arnold Sinisalu, WRC rally star Ott Tänak and Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary General, and former Estonian Ambassador to the US, Jonatan Vseviov.

Tennis player Anett Kontaveit is in 25th place, former president Kersti Kaljulaid in 31st.

Last year's list was topped by Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart (Center), in 23rd place this year. Kaja Kallas was second that time around.

The full list (link in Estonian) is here.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Urmet Kook

Source: Delfi, EPL

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