Kallas to international media: Recent controversy a 'witch-hunt' against me

Kaja Kallas (Reform).
Kaja Kallas (Reform). Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Questions about her husband's business activities amount to nothing more than a "witch-hunt" whipped up by the opposition, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) says. The prime minister made her remarks to the international media.

In an article published today, Wednesday, U.K. daily The Guardian reported Kallas as saying: "This is a witch-hunt by the opposition. It is an excuse to waste time in parliament and obstruct our progressive agenda," in a story also picked up by news portal Politico.

Though the prime minister does not explicitly name who the witch-finder pursuivant might be, these are not the only appearances in the international media in recent days; Bloomberg has given her the floor in the debut episode of a new podcast, titled "Exponentially," in which she talks about Estonia as a digital powerhouse.

Kallas also graced the pages of Vogue Greece last week in a piece which did not even reference the recent controversy.

Kallas told The Guardian, in the article published Wednesday, that since her husband, Arvo Hallk, is not a public figure, she cannot be held responsible for his business activities.

Those activities at the heart of the recent controversy revolve around a stake Hallk had in a company transporting, on behalf of another, related firm, metal components to the Russian Federation which, once in Russia, would be assembled into aerosol cans. Aerosol cans themselves are subject to sanctions; Kallas has continually called both for stricter sanctions on Russia and for disengaging from any business activity involving Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

The recent articles follow a busy few days at home; last week, the head of government hosted two major events in Tallinn.

On Thursday, September 7, Kallas met with US Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power at the culmination of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) summit.

Giving her opening remarks at the OGP summit on the Wednesday, Kallas referenced Russia's ongoing war against Ukraine and its relevance to the question of the possibility of a democratic future and of ensuring global security.

Authoritarianism is on the rise in the world she added, a theme she had picked up on a day earlier, at last week's other major event, the annual Tallinn Digital Summit. That time, the prime minister said that democracy as an institution faces great challenges as authoritarian regimes make use of the tools of the digital age against free societies, a problem which can be addressed via the correct deployment of tech.

Kallas also addressed international business hub on the Friday, before around 120 business leaders, both paid-up AmCham members and those from other organizations: Amcham Finland, Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Estonia and Finnish-Estonian Chamber of Commerce.

Kaja Kallas with US Ambassador to Estonian George P. Kent at last Friday's AmCham event. Source: AmCham social media page

In Wednesday's piece, The Guardian also stated that Social Democratic MP Raimond Kaljulaid, once a supporter of the prime minister, had gone a step further and said he could not guarantee his future support. "This is shaping up to be one of the biggest scandals in recent history," Kaljulaid said.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: The Guardian, Politico, Bloomberg

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