Postimees editor-in-chief forced to quit following Estonia 200 candidacy

Former Postimees editor-in-chief Lauri Hussar.
Former Postimees editor-in-chief Lauri Hussar. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

Editor-in-chief of daily Postimees Lauri Hussar has had to step down from the role to join newly formed party Estonia 200. Mr Hussar informed Postimees' owner Eesti Meedia, one of two major commerical media groups in Estonia, of his intention to run for Estonia 200 at the elections on 3 March, and the group terminated his employment on the same day, citing editorial independence issues.

"We would like to thank Lauri for his work,'' said Executive publisher of Postimees Merili Nikkolo, according to BNS.

''However, it is deeply regrettable that he announced his decision immediately prior to the end of candidates' registration, essentially at the last minute," she continued.

"Such conduct by the editor-in-chief of Estonia's largest daily newspaper puts Postimees in a difficult position, where both our reliability as well as the work of our journalists may be called into question. It casts a shadow over the independence of the press as a whole."

New editor to be appointed

Ms Nikkolo stressed that Eesti Meedia and Postimees continue to stand for free and independent journalism.

"As our work is visible to everyone, we have nothing to hide and everyone can assess what we do," she said.

"Looking at our content, there is no doubt that Postimees has made its decisions based on journalistic values and will continue to do so in the future," she added. 

In April 2017 in the UK, former Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister) George Osbourne (Con) was appointed editor of daily the London Evening Standard by its owner Evgeny Lebedev while Osbourne was still a sitting MP. Whilst the move was met with controversy, no injunctions were issued against Mr Osbourne, though he stepped down at the UK general election in June that year.

Estonia 200 recently announced its manifesto and full candidate list and is contesting its first ever general election. The party faced a backlash last week after a political ad campaign raised the issue of segregation between Estonian and Russian-speaking communities.

Merili Nikkolo will reportedly be acting editor-in-chief until Eesti Meedia finds Mr Hussar's replacement.

Postimees is the oldest continuously publishing newspaper in Estonia, tracing its history back to its foundation in Pärnu by Johann Voldemar Jannsen in 1857. In 2013, it was acquired by Eesti Meedia, having been owned by Norwegian media group Schibsted prior to that.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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