Ossinovski: Supporting Reinsalu in previous coalition a mistake

Trials like the one of former IT minister Matti Kuusik (EKRE) are rare, as most domestic violence cases are settled outside court, often resulting in sentences that ultimately are too lenient, a report by the Office of the Prosecutor General found. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

Chairman of the Social Democratic Party, Jegveni Ossinovski, said in an interview with ERR that holding on to Justice Minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) in January 2018 was a mistake. Reinsalu faced massive criticism after saying that he "regretted" condemning violence against women at the time. Ossinovski also said that his party has discussed a motion of no confidence against recently appointed IT minister, Marti Kuusik (EKRE).

Ossinovski told ERR's Toomas Sildam that while voting to remove Reinsalu in 2018 would have meant the end of the government then in power, SDE should have done so anyway.

"The decision [to back Reinsalu] was agreed on by the leadership after weighing both options against and in favor," Ossinovski said. "I myself tended towards demanding Reinsalu's resignation."

Justice Minister Urmas Reinsalu faced massive criticism at the time for rising to the defense of director and impresario Tiit Ojasoo, at the time one of the artists in charge of the cultural program of the Estonia 100 presidential reception on Feb. 24, 2018.

In an incident that occurred earlier, Ojasoo reportedly pushed a colleague into the snow and kicked her repeatedly. When President Kersti Kaljulaid's decision to opt for "forgiveness" in this case rather than for a principal stance in the matter of violence against women, and to not fire Ojasoo from the Estonian centenary celebrations, was faced with public opposition, Reinsalu commented that he "regretted condemning violence against women" considering the media din it caused.

In the light of the current suspicions against IT Minister Marti Kuusik, who allegedly committed several acts of domestic violence and who is facing a police probe, the SDE chairman now thinks that the party should have taken a more decisive stance in the matter.

Grande dame of SDE, Marju Lauristin, at the time had vehemently opposed any step that would have meant a government crisis right before Estonia's 100th anniversary, saying that such a step would be "irresponsible", Ossinovski said. And that, in the end, was the decision.

Reinsalu remained in office after a vote of no confidence against him failed thanks to SDE not participating.

In the current case of Minister Marti Kuusik, the party would wait for "more information", Ossinovski said. Asked whether or not the Social Democrats would back a vote of no confidence against the recently appointed minister, Ossinovski said that the matter is currently being discussed.

"The suspicions raised in the media are serious. It is clear that it would have been more reasonable of Mr Kuusik to not assume office in the first place," Ossinovski said. "But [EKRE's] understanding of political culture is different."

Ossinovski added that he previously discussed the issue with Reform Party chairwoman, Kaja Kallas, but that there are no plans for further steps at this point.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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