Commenting on Estonia 200's recent advertising stunt in Tallinn, Minister of the Interior Katri Raik (SDE), the junior coalition party's top candidate for Ida-Viru County in the upcoming Riigikogu elections, said on Vikerraadio's Tuesday broadcast of Uudis+ that the campaign reminded her of Nazi Germany.
Speaking on the news programme, Ms Raik said that seeing the ads in question saddened her and caused her to choke up.
"This was definitely a good marketing trick," she conceded. "In that regard, Estonia 200 should be congratulated. But we don't have shock elections coming up requiring us to be frightened by something once a week or once a month here in Estonia."
The minister called on the authors of the ads to think back to what they learned in school. "When we learned about Nazi Germany, then [we were taught that] they would dictate where Jews belong, and what was their bench," she recalled. "So this is a sad story."
Host Mirko Ojakivi asked Ms Raik whether Estonia 200 had done the same as Nazi Germany, where different people were shown where they belonged.
"That is how I took it," she replied. "In a free country, everyone has the right to their emotions, and yesterday, people's emotions ran high."
Ms Raik said that speaking to Russians living in Ida-Viru County, they didn't understand the placement of this topic, and they found it unnerving.
Means of highlighting problem itself problematic
People living in Estonia of course don't have to consider what Russia thinks of advertisements in Estonia and act accordingly, she continued, but before taking any major public steps, all political forces are obliged to consider Estonia's foreign relations as well as how something would appear on the outside.
While Estonia 200's scandalous ads weren't against the law, politicians have to keep a level head, she added.
The minister admitted that the Estonian-Russian issue highlighted by Estonia 200 requires attention. "I would be very careful, however, in using words like 'crisis,' 'segregation,' and 'division,'" she stressed. "I'd look for more positive words."
She would also call on people to be less angry, and noted that in politics, one has to be benevolent. "Difficult things can also be said calmly, with a smile," she added.
Highlighting a more serious concern, Ms Raik said that photos taken of Monday's posters may be used against Estonia for years in the Russian media.
"Considering how quickly the ads spread via Sputnik channels last night, I'm concerned that we may have hurt ourselves, and shot ourselves in the foot," she said.
Ads highlighted 'segregation,' says Estonia 200 chair
Early on Monday morning, commuters in Central Tallinn were met with the sight of a series of bold, bilingual advertisements dividing each side of the central Hobujaama tram stop in half, with the ads on the left, in blue, stating "Here only Estonians" and the ads on the right, in red, stating "Here only Russians." Party politicians also ignored media queries as to whether or not they were behind the controversial ads.
By Tuesday morning, however, the ads had been replaced — by ads for Estonia 200.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Estonia 200 chairwoman Kristina Kallas said that her party wanted to use the controversial ads to draw attention to "segregation" in Estonian society, adding that it did not consider the ad campaign unethical.
Editor: Aili Vahtla