Arvo Hallik, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas' husband, filed a €1,500 damages claim against a former University of Tartu lecturer who wrote an article about Hallik's Russia transports scandal and recieved an apology along with the money.
The opinion article written by Valdar Parve, psychiatrist and former philosophy teacher, was published in daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL). Among other things, Parve analyzes where Kallas might have gotten the money she lent to Hallik and whether the aim was to profit from business conducted in Russia. Parve presents a metaphorical pun, according to which Hallik is a secret shareholder in Kallas' business, the paper reports. The article was published on September 17.
"It cannot be that a sworn lawyer just allows between a third and half of their money's purchasing power to disappear into thin air. That the prime minister's Russia business is her business in which her husband is just a front man is many times more likely than the PM being a fool," the sentence that crossed Hallik reads.
EPL writes that the author received a claim letter demanding compensation of €1,500 and an apology which included a sentence saying it caused Hallik emotional distress. "The author did not wish to go to court. Who would, considering that the sums involved might easily balloon out of hand there? Parve paid and issued an apology," the daily reports.
EPL believes that Hallik's move constitutes a SLAPP (strategic litigation against public participation), which is a tactic used to silence critical voices.
Kallas: False allegations are not a free speech issue
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas told Delfi on Wednesday that this action did not constitution a restriction of freedom of speech.
"False allegations are not free speech. Criticism is allowed, you do that every day, and on a very large scale. But a person must be able to defend themselves against false allegations if they are simply lies," she said.
Asked if Hallik had discussed the claim with her before filling it, she said: "Do I now have to repeat everything I say at home in the press? False allegations were made, and the perpetrator of the false allegations admitted to making false allegations, voluntarily paid compensation, and apologized."
Kallas did not directly answer a question asking if more claims would be made in the future.
"In general, you shouldn't make false allegations about other people, that should be fundamental. Criticize – of course, my work – of course, I live with it every day. But making false allegations, all of which remain on the internet, that should not be right in any way," she said.
Editor: Mait Ots, Marcus Turovski
Source: Eesti Päevaleht