ISS chief on Russia's stage near Narva: It's okay, let people feel good

Arnold Sinisalu.
Arnold Sinisalu. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Arnold Sinisalu, the chief of the Estonian Internal Security Service (ISS), told Russian-language ERR program "Interview of the Week" that the May 9 celebration in Estonia had been relatively quiet.

Sinisalu, who has led the ISS for a decade, said there was nothing wrong with the May 9 concert in Ivangorod, which attracted hundreds of Narva residents to the opposite bank of the river: "People want to see what is going on there. This may have been Ivangorod's largest event in the past 30 years. It's okay, let people feel good."

A poster with the inscription "Putin is a war criminal" was displayed on the walls of Narva Castle, in response to the concert. Sinisalu emphasized that the poster is accurate, because the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for war crimes for Putin, and the state was not going to remove it. "We are a free nation; we do what we must, regardless of what someone likes or dislikes," Sinisalu said.

The chief of the Estonian ISS said that law enforcement agencies had been preparing for May 9 for several weeks, so no major incidents had occurred.

Sinisalu, a longtime director general of the ISS, a police officer and a lawyer, said that he is not aware of the existence of any fifth column in Estonia. "I do not believe we have it. There are many different people living here, and those who speak Russian also have many different viewpoints. As a jurist, I think a fifth column is a powerful organization and that does not exist in Estonia. There are people who, for instance, dislike the government, but there are also such individuals among Estonians, whom we do not call a fifth column. I think it's wrong and unfair to say that about people and it has to stop."

On Monday, May 8, the Koos party was registered in Tartu (link in Estonian), one of whose leaders is currently detained for posing a security risk. Sinisalu said it is standard for parties to be registered in Estonia, as the law permits that. "In the 1930s, there were also those who advocated for war neutrality. Currently, the same scenario is occurring. But we know what happened then, so Estonia's position is very clear now."

The problem arises when there is a threat to the nation and the Constitution, he emphasized; "I do not see such a threat at this time."

When asked about the authorities' plans to revoke Russian and Belarusian citizens' right to vote in upcoming elections, Sinisalu explained that this is a complex legal issue that must be addressed. Russian and Belarusian citizens have the right to choose their local government.

Even though there appears to be no threat to state authority, but the law stipulates that during presidential elections, if the legislature cannot reach a consensus, the electoral council will have the authority to select the president. Such a committee is comprised of municipal government representatives, among others, so those elected by citizens of hostile nations can have a significant impact on Estonia's politics, he explained. "Perhaps it is not wise to do so during the war, but in the end, it's a purely political issue," he said.

The question of the expulsion or arrest of individuals involved, among other things, in the organization of events on May 9 was also brought up: whether such serious measures were necessary. "Approximately 10 people had their residency permits revoked. I must emphasize that these people tried very hard; we had no choice but to act. It was appropriate from our side. If people dislike living in Estonia, they should move elsewhere. We should not have to put up with such a hard life in Estonia," he said.

In one month, Sinisalu's tenure as director general of the ISS will end. He said that he has not yet decided what he will do next. "First I will take a long vacation, and then I will think about what to do next," he said, adding, however, that he does not see himself in politics. 


Follow ERR News on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an update!

Editor: Irina Kablukova, Kristina Kersa

Hea lugeja, näeme et kasutate vanemat brauseri versiooni või vähelevinud brauserit.

Parema ja terviklikuma kasutajakogemuse tagamiseks soovitame alla laadida uusim versioon mõnest meie toetatud brauserist: