The South district prosecutor’s office and the Internal Security Service are suspecting Tartu deputy mayors Valvo Semilarski (Reform) and Artjom Suvorov (Center) of corruption. The two were arrested on Wednesday morning.
As ERR’s Estonian news portal reported on Wednesday, Semilarski was arrested following suspicions that some of his decisions in his public function had involved personal economic interests. In such cases the Anti-Corruption Act forbids elected officials from being part to decisions.
Arising from this, the prosecutor suspects Semilarski of a large-scale breach of procedural restrictions. Semilarski is also suspected of having accepted a bribe, the case involving a businessman as well who is suspected of having bribed him.
Artjom Suvorov is suspected of having received bribes on several occasions in exchange for allocating support money to different organizations. One more individual is suspected of having bribed him and also subject to this investigation.
According to Margus Gross of the South prosecutor’s office, prosecutors are in close contact with the Internal Security Service (ISS/Kapo).
Gross said that deputy mayors are required to think first of the public interest and the trust people were putting in them. “It’s extremely regrettable that officials of one of the largest local administrations of Estonia are suspected of corruption,” Gross said.
Evidence didn’t currently indicate any connection to political parties, Gross said. In both cases suspicions fell on individual officials. The ISS’ director of operations in the area, Jaanus Kann, confirmed that the investigation has lasted for some time, and that the evidence the authorities have collected justified the arrests.
Kann added that while the cases were getting more complicated and harder to uncover, the fact had helped them along that corruption in the country’s biggest local administrations also posed a potential risk to national security.
The two cases apparently aren’t connected. The investigation is in the hands of the ISS under the direction of the South district prosecutor’s office.
Editor: Dario Cavegn