Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) did not emerge from Monday's Riigikogu Anti-Corruption Select Committee sitting in a stronger position, and her future as head of government hinges on how she fares in the ongoing debate relating to her husband's business interests, security expert Meelis Oidsalu told ERR Monday.
The prime minister once again subtly changed his version of events surrounding what was transported between warehouses Russian, where, and by whom, Oidsalu (pictured) said, talking to ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera."
Ultimately, she did not leave the committee hearing, which she had held out against attending in the first few days of the controversy, in a stronger position than she went in, Oidsalu went on.
"I think that Kaja Kallas has had an impact from the beginning – and I'm not wholly sure if this impression is correct – but she has had an impact as a person who seems also somewhat alone within her party," he added.
The current controversy is also the first major crisis of Kallas' premiership, "Which explains why she came apart in that way," he continued, referring to Monday's committee hearing.
Also on Monday, the head of state, President Alar Karis, opined that the time for Kallas to resign has actually passed. As to when the second window to do so might arise, Oidsalu said that the current one has not, in fact, closed as yet.
"I think that what will happen next depends on the psycho-social state within our country and society, as well as any resistance to Kaja Kallas. If you look at how much support she still has after this, and how many votes she has brought to the party so far, then there would be some arguments in favor of her continuing which would make sense, politically speaking. But how she will contribute to the debate in the future: All hinges on that. Today's performance did not bring anyone any closer to a solution," the commentator went on.
Oidsalu also said that from what he could see of the committee – whose hearing Monday was live-streamed on Youtube in its entirety – the Riigikogu so fact lacks a culture of select committees of an investigative nature.
"The whole thing was somewhat reminiscent of a beer cellar (see video – ed.) conversation, both on the part of the questioners and the respondent," he said.
When asked whether Kallas seemed unprepared for the hearing, Oidsalu replied that even if she was, that could be said of the committee itself, too.
In any case, the prime minister could have headed off the hearing altogether, had she provided a clear account of what happened, in writing, and one which remained consistent.
"When you change your statements, even the sincere ones, and hide or obscure information, and flip-flop and delay in giving answers, an image of guilt comes to be associated with her, one which cannot be lost just like that.
Kallas qualified her attending the hearing by later referring to it as a "witch hunt" also implies that the prime minister does not listen to her closest counsel, either, Oidsalu went on.
Oidsalu gave the example of lawyer acquaintances of his who, on being asked if Kallas had deployed some legal trick of the trade which was known in the bar association (Kallas is a lawyer by profession – ed.) and not to the wider world, responded with a shrug of the shoulders (which does not of course mean that there isn't something esoteric going on – ed.).
The legal background was nonetheless as much hindrance as help in the context of the current political situation, he added.
"On Monday, Kaja Kallas stated that she was a good lawyer. But right now, it is not looking that way. Moreover, she has taken the role of Kaja Kallas, lawyer, a little too far in this crisis," Oidsalu said.
Oidsalu also provided a clue to the current situation in Kallas' political, rather than legal, backstory.
He said that she had started out as somewhat of a maverick within the Reform Party, something which gave the lie to the oft-used trope of her being born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth.
"She is certainly quite a 'self-made woman' in politics; she has won these things she has achieved off her own bat, and in the course of these challenges, she has probably picked up a self-image that states that everything and everyone is against, me and I am alone," Oidsalu added.
As for the extent to which the Internal Security Service (ISS), known in Estonian as the Kapo, were involved and had warned Kallas about her husband's business activities as they related to the Russian Federation, Oidsalu declined to speculate, adding that the ISS will be holding its own committee hearing today, Tuesday.
Meelis Oidsalu is a former long-serving, high-ranking official at the Ministry of Defense.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Barbara Oja
Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera', interviewer Margus Saar.