In an opinion piece published by daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) last summer, politician Margus Tsahkna called Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) chairman Mart Helme a "useful idiot" for Russia. Mart Laar, Estonia's popular two-time prime minister from the 90s, affirmed in a followup piece first published likewise last summer that not only is Mr Helme a useful idiot, but a pathological liar to boot.
Mart Helme's incensed reaction to being called a "useful idiot" by Mr Tsahkna was telling of it hitting the nail on the head, as much of his reply was directed not at Mr Tsahkna, but at Mr Laar himself, the latter wrote in his opinion piece (link in Estonian). Instead of addressing the personal issues brought up by Mr Helme, the former prime minister decided instead to explain how and why exactly Mart Helme qualified as precisely that — a useful idiot, and that of Russian President Vladimir Putin's no less.
If someone's statements and activities weaken or threaten Estonian-NATO relations, or the presence of US troops in Estonia, such as by recommending that black troops in Estonia go out in public only in uniform, their activities qualify as being in the interest of Putin's Russia, Mr Laar found. Likewise if their activity or statements distance Estonia from its European allies, or damages European unity, or they attack an Estonian security agency.
"If someone tried to make Estonia intolerant and closed, that would mean an end to Estonia's success story and nudge it toward 'failed state,' which would be in the interests of Putin's Russia," Mr Laar wrote, adding that if anyone did all of the above, then they would most certainly qualify as Putin's "useful idiot," which Mart Helme did.
According to the former head of state, useful idiots don't typically realise what they are doing, and are naive. Some, he noted, believe that Mart Helme is as well.
"To me he is more of an aggressive pottymouth-your-brain-is-so-empty-that-it-echoes screamer who can freely do things of which they accuse others later," Mr Laar commented. "If someone else takes steps that are allegedly necessary for Estonia's Western ties they are vermin, but when Helme does the same, he is a good sport."
The EKRE chairman, he continued, has a habit of commenting on things from a safe distance after the fact, not as they are happening. "While the [Estonian-Russian] border treaty was being signed1, Helme was in the bushes and quiet as a mouse, and that is just one example," he highlighted.
"Seeing the degree to which distinguished Mart Helme was incensed, I am seriously concerned about his health," Mr Laar quipped, recommending a cool compress against the heat.
1Mart Helme served as Estonian Ambassador to Russia from 1995-1999, during which time he participated in border negotiations with Moscow.
Editor: Aili Vahtla