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Center Party split on MEP funding Kremlin activist's legal costs

Yana Toom
Yana Toom Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR

Senior Center Party members are divided on MEP Yana Toom's decision to help cover legal costs for several people, including pro-Kremlin activists who have been expelled from Estonia.

"Aktuaalne kaamera" spoke to members after Eesti Päevaleht reported on Monday that Toom, the party's vice chairman, was helping people declared a threat to Estonia by the security services.

One of these cases is Immortal Regiment activist Zoja Paljamar, whose residence permit was revoked by the Internal Security Service in June. She was handed a 10-year entry ban and is now in Russia.

Toom said these actions have been financed with her own money, but she understands why the topic raises emotions for many people.

Zoja Paljamar. Source: KAPO

"Honestly - I'm having a hard time finding the words. When someone does charity work, do you always ask why you're doing it?" Toom said when asked why she does this.

The MEP said she helps people unable to pay their own court costs. Additionally, these are cases Toom finds politically interesting. The politician said many gray passport holders – people without citizenship – have asked if something similar could happen to them.

"It would be a very good and necessary thing if the Estonian courts could look at them and draw some conclusions as to what is and is not allowed in the Republic of Estonia. Because, apart from Zoja Palamar, who is a grey passport holder, as you know, we have 60+ thousand other grey passport holders living in Estonia," said Toom.

Former chairman Jüri Ratas said Toom's activities were discussed when he led the party. He told AK he did not agree with her actions.

Mihhail Kõlvart. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

"This is certainly not in line with Estonian values and the general social attitude," Ratas said.

In response, Toom said: "I can understand the emotion, but here we disagree."

Center Party Chairman Mihhail Kõlvart said he neither supported not condemned Toom's activities. He said the party does not evaluate the specific choices of party members.

"We are guided by values and principles, and our principles are very clear here. That there is no justification for anti-state activities. And at the same time, given that in a state governed by the rule of law, decisions are made by the courts, all court decisions are legitimate and must be followed," Kõlvart said.

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Editor: Barbara Oja, Helen Wright

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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