The recent use of social media fake accounts by Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) youth wing leader Ruuben Kaalep happened without the party's knowledge, says party deputy chair Jaak Madison.
Mr Kaalep, chair of ''Blue Awakening'', the young person's wing of EKRE and a party candidate in the March general election, admitted earlier in the week, as reported by daily Postimees, that he had been behind not only dozens of fake accounts.
Mr Kaalep said he also penned at least one opinion piece, which got published in daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) last summer, under a pseudonym (''Bert Valter''). Other ''Blue Awakening'' members have reportedly been involved in similar activities.
Mr Kaalep justified his actions, saying the practice of using pseudonyms was an ancient one, twinned with the fear many have of stating their true opinions openly (though he stated he had no such misgivings himelf
EKRE were recently at the forefront of protesting the UN's Global Migration Compact on Immigration, and have a nationalistic, anti-immigration and anti-EU stance).
Chair of the party, Mart Helme, reportedly concurred with Mr Kaalep's arguments; national broadcaster ERR's ethics ombudsman Tarmu Tammerk conversely argued that Mr Kaalep's actions represented fraudulent activity, since the pieces were not in the creative or artistic sphere, but rather had attempted to influence public opinion. Thus a defence of free speech was not valid in this case, Mr Tammerk said.
Jaak Madison also criticised Mr Kaaleps actions.
"Using shadow accounts is widespread practice on the internet and social media, just like pseudonyms have been used for presenting one's creations through history,'' Mr Kaalep said, according to spokespersons.
''But politics must be honest, public, and transparent,'' he continued.
"We presume that politicians of our party always speak in public displaying their true face and name. We have talked with Ruuben Kaalep, and he has promised to speak up under his own name in the future," Mr Madison said.
"I also call on all our political rivals who attack EKRE and our members using fake accounts to stop trolling. Let the rules be the same for everyone regardless of world view,'' he added.
The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) are investigating defacement of EKRE outdoor electioneering posters. EKRE also claims its members have received death threats, but no PPA reported investigation is underway at the moment.
On Sunday, a comment referencing EKRE and making a death threat appeared under a video endorsing Jaanus Karilaid (Centre) in the forthcoming election. The video, featuring Haapsalu Mayor Urmas Sukles and posted on Mr Karilaid's social media account, saw a comment stating that ''your [ie. Mr Sukles'] kind of rats will be summarily shot,'' should EKRE win the election. Mr Sukles reported the incident to the PPA and the comment was deleted.
Editor: Andrew Whyte