Estonia’s President Toomas Ilves said he would veto entry of the opposition Center Party into the government after police said last week that Center leader and Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar had asked for financing from a Russian backer.
“Every attempt at a veiled financing of a party poses a threat to constitutional order and democracy,” Ilves said in an interview with public broadcaster Eesti Rahvusringhaeaeling yesterday. “It is bad if this veiled financing comes from inside the country, but it is much worse when it stems from abroad. Then it poses a security threat.”
At a meeting in Estonia in June, Savisaar asked Vladimir Yakunin, OAO Russian Railways’ chief executive officer, to contribute 3 million euros ($4 million) to the Center Party’s election campaign, receiving a pledge for half that amount, Estonian Security Police said in a statement on Dec. 21. Yakunin grew up in Estonia.
Savisaar abandoned the agreement after police warned him he might compromise himself and risk national security, according to the statement. Savisaar said he had reached agreement with Yakunin on financing the building of an Orthodox church in Tallinn with the 1.5 million euros, a statement on his party’s website said.
Ilves said the Center Party can’t be allowed into government until it condemns such actions, and for as long as “people who have behaved in this way” are connected with it.