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Rõivas releases statement concerning harassment accusations, apologizes

Rõivas (center) during his recent trip to Singapore and Malaysia.
Rõivas (center) during his recent trip to Singapore and Malaysia. Source: (Ave Tampere / Riigikogu kantselei)

The statement followed rumors earlier on Thursday that one of the men who sexually harassed women at the party of an Estonian trade delegation in Kuala Lumpur was former prime minister Taavi Rõivas (Reform) himself.

As daily Eesti Päevaleht reported on Thursday, members of an Estonian trade delegation to Singapore and Malaysia led by Rõivas behaved in an “improper” fashion.

Rõivas released a statement earlier on Thursday in which he admitted that there had been complaints about him. He also apologized “personally as well as in the name of all of the delegation” to all those who felt bad after the incident.

Rõivas also added an apology to his wife and children. Concerning the details of what happened, Rõivas said that there was an agreement “not to go along with speculations” about what had happened, and that he intended to stick to this agreement.

Delfi: Rõivas met with woman who complained about him

According to news portal, Rõivas met with the woman in Tallinn on Wednesday afternoon and tried to persuade her and later on journalists as well to report on what happened in Malaysia without naming any names.

Rõivas mentioned having met the woman in his Thursday morning statement, though adding that “the parties’ recollections of the incident don’t match”.

Members of trade delegation harass women at party

Incidents that evening included a delegation member pouring a drink over the dress of one of the women at the party, saying “I wanted to make you wet”.

In the course of the evening a woman was pushed into a swimming pool. According to Enterprise Estonia, who arranged the trip, that member is now barred from participating in delegations for a year.

But there were more serious accusations of sexual harassment as well. Päevaleht quoted one of the victims: “He was very aggressive already when we kissed, which was already unpleasant, but it went on. What happened next was completely out of control, he pulled up my dress and groped me.”

One of the portals of popular news site, Publik, asked Rõivas’ office on Thursday if the man described in the quote was Rõivas himself. An advisor to Rõivas answered neither yes nor no, but instead pointed to Rõivas’ earlier statement of Thursday morning.

Rõivas’ wife left for Bali a day earlier

Rõivas headed a trade delegation to Singapore and Malaysia that left for a ten-day trip on Sep. 18. The events described allegedly took place at a party in a Kuala Lumpur bar after the official part of the visit ended on Sep. 21.

Rõivas was accompanied by his wife Luisa, who left for a holiday in Bali on Sep. 20 while he carried on with the delegation.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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