On Tuesday, the Estonian Ministry of Culture announced that the post of undersecretary for the arts is to be discontinued. Minister of Culture Heidy Purga (Reform) stressed, that although an opinion piece written by current undersecretary Taaniel Raudsepp was one of the reasons for the move, the decision was not taken as a direct result of the article.
"All in all, the problems, which have been accumulating over recent days and weeks have now led to this moment and the decision to discontinue the role of undersecretary at the ministry in order to improve its management and make it more efficient," Purga said, adding that the ministry's work would not come to a standstill as a result.
"The arts department will be under the responsibility of the undersecretary for cultural heritage once the new permanent secretary takes office in early August. Increasing transparency and improving (the department's) structure will be the first task for the new permanent secretary," Purga said.
At the same time, Purga said that the current case is not a sign that the staff of the Ministry of Culture should not be able to speak out. "Everyone has the right to give their opinion in public. It is simply unfortunate that an official can go out with uncoordinated information concerning political decisions. That is an unethical act," she said, adding that this was just one of reasons behind the decision. "These things have simply coincided with a time when we now have an opportunity to improve the ministry's governance."
However, Purga stressed that there is no direct link between the publication of Raudsepp's opinion piece and his dismissal. "The Ministry of Culture has no political plans for the Russian Theater, which means that the idea of cutting the budget, which you may have read about in the media, is not true. The Russian Theater will continue to operate exactly as it has been doing up to now."
Raudsepp: I have not behaved unethically in any way
Raudsepp, who, up to now served as undersecretary for the arts at the Ministry of Culture, said that he has not behaved unethically in any way.
"I made these proposals to the minister public because I consider it very important that they are debated in public. I have justified them and I stand by my reasons," Raudsepp said, adding that it is very important that his proposal for an action plan considers details other than just those related to the Russian Theater. "I hope that the ministry will also find quite a lot of useful things in (the proposal) to use in the future."
"As far as my being laid off is concerned, the fact is that I myself proposed the merging of the two chancellor's posts here in the same building," Raudsepp said, adding that he was pleased that this step was now being taken. "The ministry has a lot to gain from this structural change, which will allow for greater synergy and cooperation between the arts and cultural heritage departments."
"If we think of the audience or the viewers, the same person who goes to the theater also goes to museums. The same person who goes to the library also reads books at home. So, in a sense, the boundaries between the responsibilities of these two undersecretaries have been quite artificial. I believe that the ministry will now reduce those boundaries and achieve greater and better levels of cooperation," he said.
However, the move still came as a surprise. "I don't blame anyone here for the fact that this move has now come about. I believe that perhaps my action in publishing this text hastened it. However, the structural change in itself is in no way bad or out of the ordinary."
Editor: Michael Cole