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Rõivas story just “tip of the iceberg”, says Päevaleht editor-in-chief

Urmo Soonvald.
Urmo Soonvald. Source: (ERR)

Editor-in-chief of Eesti Päevaleht, the daily that exposed former prime minister Taavi Rõivas’s conduct at a after-work party of a trade delegation to Malaysia, said that what they published was just the “soft” version of what happened. He had no reason to question his source, Soonvald added.

Soonvald told ERR’s Margus Saar that they had no reason to question the story of the woman who had talked to them about Rõivas’s unwelcome advances. “The accusations concerning Taavi Rõivas’s conduct that evening, specifically some two minutes of it, are pretty terrible, and these moments—the kissing—are just the tip of the iceberg,” Soonvald said.

Talking to the woman he hadn’t had any reason to doubt her story, Soonvald said. The description of the events in the article of Eesti Päevaleht on Thursday morning were a softer version of what actually happened, and the story had been published in this particular fashion because Päevaleht wanted to protect the families of the people involved, he added.

Soonvald also said that on Tuesday this week Rõivas had still refused to comment. And pointed out that Rõivas hadn’t specifically said once that what Päevaleht wrote wasn’t true.

According to Soonvald, the vast majority of the delegates along on the trip of an Enterprise Estonia trade delegation to Singapore and Malaysia hadn’t been involved in any of the harassment incidents. “Taavi Rõivas’s apology in the name of the delegation was overinflated, and he likely wanted to share the blame with a greater number of people,” he said.

Asked why he had run the story right before the elections, Soonvald pointed out that the trip in question took part in late September, and that they had received the information late last week. There were more people involved and more details than had been made public, he added.

“We all understand that if Taavi Rõivas hadn’t conducted himself the way our source described it in today’s paper, he wouldn’t have apologized to the Estonian people, to his family, and resigned from the position of deputy speaker. He knows why he is resigning. The professional politician he is, Taavi Rõivas isn’t resigning because nothing happened,” Soonvald said.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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