The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) have commenced a criminal investigation into allegations of domestic violence made against incoming IT and foreign trade minister Marti Kuusik (EKRE), ERR's online Estonian news reports.
''We confirm that the PPA and prosecutor's office started this [Monday] evening, on the basis of the section of the penal code related to physical abuse, in order to investigate stories appearing in Eesti Ekspress and elsewherein the media,'' PPA spokesperson Jelena Filippova said on Monday evening.
Investigative weekly Eesti Ekspress published a long piece on the allegations on Monday, though these had been circulating in the media from last Thursday, just after President Kersti Kaljulaid signed the current Centre/EKRE/Isamaa coalition into being, though before Monday's swearing-in ceremony at the Riigikogu.
At the swearing-in itself, President Kaljulaid absented herself from the chamber whilst Kuusik came to take his oath, leaving him to offer the customary greeting to a vacant chair.
Minister of Justice Raivo Aeg (Isamaa) confirmed to ERR current affairs show Aktuaalne kaamera that the proceedings, under the jurisdiction of the Viru District Prosecutor's office and the PPA eastern prefecture
''Since these are serious accusations coming from public sources, to my knowledge, criminal proceedings are now underway to investigate the veracity of the claims and establish the facts of the matter,'' Aeg said.
Kuusik had previously been found to have been driving with trace amount of alcohol in his system, after being stopped by the PPA in the town of Rakvere, the morning after the March 3 election, something which ERR's Toomas Sildam quizzed him about in a recent interview. While he did not see fit to mention it at the time of the interview, BNS later reported that he had initially been stopped by the PPA in Rakvere for driving at over 70 km/h in a 50 km/h zone.
Marti Kuusik's ex-wife, Karin, contacted ERR on Monday evening by email, stating that he had never engaged in violent acts against her and that the claims were part of a smear campaign against him, herself, and her family (the couple have two children from their former marriage).
''I have already stated to journalists, and now also confirm, that Marti has never engaged in violent acts against my person. The two times I broke my arm were nothing to do with Marti and were accidents. In addition to anonymous slander in the Eesti Ekspress article, there were various falshoods, for example in their description of real estate transactions,'' Karin Kuusik wrote in the email.
The email goes on to state that although the pair's marriage had seen no shortage of difficulties, it was never violent.
''Journalists, please leave our family alone, and stop spreading this slander, otherwise we will have to consider taking legal action to protect ourselves and our family,'' the email continued.
In becoming a government minister, Marti Kuusik has lost the legal immunity he would have enjoyed as a Riigkikogu MP (government ministers do not sit in parliament, vacating their seats which are then given to the next person on the party's list in the electoral district where they ran).
The process of stripping current MP Kalev Kallo (Centre) of his immunity in order to proceed with corruption proceedings is still ongoing and involves the prosecutor's office making an application to the Riigikogu, which the latter can reject.
Editor: Andrew Whyte