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Former ISS chief: No security concerns relating to prime minister

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

The husband of Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) has not violated any sanctions, so far as is known, in his business activity, meaning any interest from the Internal Security Service (ISS, known in Estonian by the acronym Kapo) ends there, the authority's former director says.

Speaking to ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) Tuesday, Arnold Sinisalu, who was ISS chief until summer this year, said that he was satisfied the authority had disbursed its tasks well in the current controversy.  "My former colleagues have not sat idly by, and are countering all security threats via every possible means," Sinisalu said.

Most of the recent controversy revolves around business links the prime minister's spouse, Arvo Hallik, had with an Estonian firm exporting aerosol can parts to Russia, where they would be assembled into functioning cans.

While aerosol cans are on a sanctions list, the individual parts, made by a firm called Metaprint, are not; Hallik had a near 25-percent stake in a related firm, Stark Logistics, which transported these items by road to Russia.

Arnold Sinisalu stated that the ISS is not tasked with making moral judgements on high officials' activities. "We don't deal with moral and ethical issues, though we do inform people if there is a problem where a prime minister could be manipulated or subject to blackmail. However, based on my experience communicating with this prime minister, I would exclude the possibility of the prime minister being blackmailed in any way," Sinisalu went on.

Sinisalu stressed that any communication between the prime minister and the ISS is non-public and is strictly classified. "As for the security checks and related matters, based on my personal experience with the prime minister and everything that has been connected with here, there is no cause to believe that the prime minister does not perceive security threats sufficiently. The ISS had previously considered, and as far as I know, holds the same view now, that the prime minister perceives security risks wholly adequately," he went on.

Security checks are not an arbitrary thing, but are based on specific regulations and are subject to judicial supervision also, Sinisalu noted; supervision of the protection of classified state information, one of the ISS' main tasks, is multi-layered, he went on – including both the monitoring of individuals and, more broadly, countering terrorism and, pertinent to this case, monitoring adherence to sanctions place on Russia and Belarus.

The ISS would respond in proportion to all and any threats, Sinisalu noted.

"The prime minister's husband's firm has not, so far as I know, violated any sanctions, and if there is no violation of sanctions, then our intervention ends there," Sinisalu added.

Should it transpire that a crime has been committed, be it against an individual, an organization or the state, then we are no longer talking about an administrative procedure but rather a criminal one, which requires a wholly different set of rules of procedure, Sinisalu added.

Sinisalu's successor as ISS Director Margo Palloson said Tuesday that a security check on business activity of Arvo Hallik revealed that these activities do not present a threat to Estonia's national security.

The prime minister said last week in an interview given to Vikerraadio that she had obtained the required security clearance level after reapplying for it on returning as head of government, following the March 5 election.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mari Peegel.

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera,' interviewer Priit Kuusk.

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