Jürgen Ligi, deputy chair of Prime Minister Kaja Kallas' ruling Reform Party, told ERR in an interview that he would have crossed out many of the things Kallas has said in the wake of her husband's Russia business scandal, and that the PM should have emphasized it was a mistake not to wrap up the business immediately.
Ligi said that, strangely enough, the party cannot and should not rush in to help in the case of very personal matters of the chairman or other leading figures. "These family firm..., excuse me, family matters are known to members of the family. /.../ We cannot intervene where the matter is not political but rather boils down to facts and personal choices. The latter are not the party's business."
Ligi suggested that the situation would change again if it turned out sanctions had been violated.
Asked, whether he is happy with Kaja Kallas' explanations so far, the deputy chairman said that he has only heard descriptions of Kallas' handling of the scandal, while they are no cause for satisfaction. "My tone would be different from what the PM seems to have displayed. "But I realize she is shocked, and I'm trying to rationalize it as a case of refusing to sell out a family member. A family member who has probably been very naive."
Ligi said he would have crossed out a lot of Kallas' reaction and emphasized admitting mistakes. "The mistake of not wrapping up the business in time as something that has now been realized."
"But in a situation where a political scandal has been brought home to you, into your family... I know how it can paralyze a person," Ligi added.
Asked whether security agencies have dropped the ball in failing to react to these business ties that could leave the PM open to blackmail, Ligi said it is too soon for such conclusions.
"Those talking about how Estonia's reputation has suffered will no doubt achieve just that. The spin is really being put to this. "It is a piquant affair for sure, while we should exercise restraint and slow down when it comes to security matters."
"The situation is embarrassing. But there will be other such situations, and Europe is full of them," Ligi said, adding that there is a constant flow of news on how Western companies are still doing business in Russia.
"Like the PM has said, it is not business with Russia, it is business in Russia. It is reprehensible from an ethical point of view and there is a reason why it is being wrapped up. But we should not throw around careless words of Estonia's reputation having been hit."
Asked whether he thinks Kaja Kallas should resign, Ligi said these are always very personal matters and that doing so following pressure from others would not really be a resignation. Talk of resignation is coming from the opposition and the press. "The government's work ability is still intact, and so is political support [for Kallas]. So it is rather a matter of personal consideration. I am rooting for her, while these are her choices."
Editor: Marcus Turovski