The Lennart Meri Conference (LMC), named the flagship of Estonia's foreign and security policy, has been forced to warn invited guests about a survey with obscure motives sent to them, daily Postimees reports.
Last month, some former attendees of the LMC from over the years received an email in which they were asked to complete an online survey regarding the conference.
Among the recipients were, for example, the Estonian Center of Eastern Partnership (ECEAP) and analysts of British think tank Chatham House. The invitation to participate in the survey was signed by Geomode Initsiatiiv.
The International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS), the Tallinn-based organiser of the Lennart Meri Conference, was at a loss as to why the survey was distributed and what purpose it is supposed to serve.
The survey had been uploaded to the European Commission-managed EUSurvey environment, which assumes no responsibility for the content or form of the surveys it hosts.
According to LMC director Eeva Eek-Pajuste, organisers of the conference were contacted by several cooperation partners, who notified them that they had received invitations to participate in such a survey.
"No one had informed us of the wish or plan to carry out such a study," Ms Eek-Pajuste noted.
Behind the company Geomode is Marko Troon, an Estonian geologist operating in Norway who had listed himself as the survey's contact person. According to Eek-Pajuste, however, conference organisers attempted to ask Troon on several occasions about the survey, but never received a clear answer regarding why Geomode had compiled and distributed such a survey.
"We exchanged letters with Marko Troon to determine why he was conducting such a survey, what his objectives were and what he intended to do with the results," the head organiser said. "On several occasions, Troon cited the survey page that allegedly had all the information. However, we did not find the answers to our questions there."
'Not phishing,' claims survey organiser
In response to a request, Mr Troon added a note in fine print to the survey that it was not affiliated with the ICDS or the organisers of the Lennart Meri Conference. Conference organisers also wanted him to specify that the results of the survey would in no way be used in the organisation of the conference, but Mr Troon failed to add this specification.
"When we expressed interest in and concern regarding where the data of the survey's addressees had come from, Troon said that this was not a case of data phishing," Ms Eek-Pajuste said.
The survey itself concluded with a request to submit one's email addresses, to which an overview of the results of the survey would be sent.
Emails sent to Mr Troon by Postimees did not receive a response, and the Geomode email address from which the invitation to participate in the survey was sent generated an automatic reply indicating that the email address did not exist. A letter sent to the email address listed as a contact email alongside the survey on the EUSurvey page was sent successfully, but has not received a response.
This year's Lennart Meri Conference, titled "One Past, Many Futures," will take place in Tallinn from 17-19 May.
Editor: Aili Vahtla