Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) MP Leo Kunnas has sparked elections for the Riigikogu's National Defense Committee leadership, by resigning from his post as committee deputy chair.
Kunnas did so in protest over Raimond Kaljulaid (SDE) remaining as committee chair, in the light of reports he was backed in his 2019 European Parliament elections campaign by two men suspected of cryptocurrency fraud.
EKRE vice-chair Mart Helme said that the defense committee being headed by a person who had accepted funds from individuals with "shady background", in order to finance his campaign.
The two suspects, Ivan Turõgin and Sergei Potapenko, donated €12,500 each to Kaljulaid's May 2019 European election campaign, where he ran as an independent, polling at 6.2 percent of the electorate, with 20,640 votes, insufficient to win a seat.
Kaljulaid, who quit the Center Party following its entry into coalition with EKRE in April, joined SDE later that year.
Kunnas said that Kaljulaid could now donate the sums received from Turõgin and Potapenko to charitable organizations.
Potapenko and Turõgin were arrested last month, on suspicion of cryptocurrency fraud and of money laundering activities.
Kaljulaid has denied any knowledge of the alleged activities, adding that he only learned about them via the media following the arrests, and adding that the two sponsors did not voice any detailed political interests when making the donations.
Under Riigikogu regulations, the resignation of a vice-chair of a committee triggers new elections for vice-chair and chair, ie. for the posts until now occupied by Kunnas and Kaljulaid respectively.
The Riigikogu's National Defense Committee deals with issues and bills concerning security, national defense, service in the defense forces, international military cooperation, cyber security and strategic goods, according to the Riigikogu website.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Barbara Oja