The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) has launched a misdemeanor procedure with regard to "Räägime asjast," a radio broadcast by Minister of the Interior Mart Helme and Minister of Finance Martin Helme, chairman and deputy chairman, respectively, of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), aired on Tre Raadio on the day of the European Parliament election in Estonia, daily Postimees reports.
The broacast, in which the two Helmes called on listeners to vote for EKRE candidates, aired on Election day, when active campaigning is prohibited everywhere, including on TV and the radio.
"A misdemeanor procedure has been launched for election campaigning on Tre Raadio's 'Räägime asjast' program on Election Day," PPA spokesperson Kristi Ruul said.
The procedure has been launched to determine whether or not the program constituted a breach of the ban on electoral advertising, as well as who would be held responsible if a violation is identified.
The police have listened to the broadcast in question and, according to a preliminary assessment, determined that it does indeed constitute unlawful campaigning, Raavo Järva, an official from the PPA's North Prefecture, said on May 26.
"We hve contacted the Tre Raadio newsroom and requested them to remove from the program the segments containing election campaigning," Järva said at the time. "We have collected preliminary information and are in the process of assessing existing evidence." According to the police, a decision regarding whether or not a misdemeanor procedure would be launched would be made within 15 days.
Police confirm launch of procedure
The PPA confirmed on Friday that the procedure has been initiated. As the process is still ongoing, the police were unable to provide any further comments or state how long the procedure could be expected to last.
At deliberation over a motion of no confidence against Mart Helme in the Riigikogu, the minister admitted to the mistake.
"This is the radio broadcast in which we called on people to vote for EKRE," the elder Helme said. "We indeed made a mistake. We recorded the program on Friday, and did not think about the fact that it would air on Sunday. This was indeed our mistake. Had we thought ahead at the time, we most certainly would not have done it."
Pursuant to the Penal Code, unlawful campaigning is punishable by a fine of up to 100 units, or €400. Committed by a legal entity, the same act is punishable by a fine of up to €1,300.
Editor: Aili Vahtla