Following discussions regarding amendments to the draft state budget for the coming year, the Riigikogu's Finance Committee has decided not to allocate "protection money" to either the NGO "Pamjat" or the Jõhvi congregation of the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Patriarchate of Moscow (MPEÕK).
At its Thursday session, the Riigikogu's Finance Committee excluded the NGO "Pamjat" from the list of recipients for this year's regional investments, or so-called "protection money," due to its involvement in defending the Narva T-34 tank monument. The commission also ruled out allocating funds to the Jõhvi congregation of the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Patriarchate of Moscow (MPEÕK).
Aivar Kokk (Isamaa), chair of the Riigikogu's Finance Committee, said that the two proposals had not been not supported due to the unacceptability of their content.
"The committee members felt that with today's security issues in mind, there is no justification for allocating money to these NGOs. The members of the committee unanimously supported this decision," Kokk told ERR.
The NGO "Pamjat," ("memory" in Russian - ed.), which was involved in defending the now-removed Narva tank monument, was proposed as a recipient of "protection money" by former Center MP Mikhail Stalnuhhin.
Stalnuhhin told ERR, that he could not understand why such a fuss was being made over a €5,000 grant. "This is an organization, which exists legally in Estonia. I share their way of thinking. I don't understand what the problem is. Have we come to the point where, money from the budget starts to be given out, depending on one's political views?" said Stalnuhhin.
Martin Repinski, who has also left the Center Party, wanted to allocate €25,000 of "protection money" from the state budget to the Jõhvi congregation of the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Patriarchate of Moscow (MPEÕK).
Repinski justified his choice, by saying it was necessary to restore one of the most beautiful buildings in Jõhvi, those responsible for which in no way support Russia's military actions in Ukraine.
Repinski told ERR, that he has also supported the same congregation in the past, with a €75,000 donation from the "protection money" funds in 2020. According to Repinski, he chose this organization in particular as receiving funds from the state budget by other means is extremely challenging. In the case of the Jõhvi congregation, the proposed funding would have been used for the construction of a Sunday school.
The finance committee also discussed the government's proposals in relation to the reallocation of investments across different sectors. Thorough discussions took place regarding planned investments included as part of the budget of the Ministry of Interior, which, for instance included three €700,000 subsidies earmarked for the construction of kindergartens.
Aivar Kokk told ERR, that the committee was seeking further clarification from both the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Culture, regarding some of their proposals.
"The commission members had questions about the distribution of money by different ministries and some of the (proposals for) regional investments ministries, which do not come under their area (of responsibility). We wanted to receive answers in writing by Friday evening in order for the commission to make its final decisions on Monday," Kokk said.
Editor: Michael Cole