TALLINN - Tallinn Deputy Mayor Mihhail Kolvart chastised the Estonian government in a speech given in Strasbourg during the World Forum for Democracy.
Kolvart, who has pushed for preserving Russian-language schools at secondary level in Estonia, recently sued the Security Police for defamation, after the agency’s annual report described him as a potential threat to national security. In Strasbourg, Kolvart talked about political activism among minority ethnicities with regard to Estonia’s Russian-language high schools, which transitioned to 60 percent Estonian-language instruction in 2011.
“I am worried not only about the state’s inability or lack of desire to hold a discussion over the issues tied to the future of Russian schools, but also about the methods chosen for hindering citizen activism,” Kolvart said, according to a press release from the City of Tallinn. “I am speaking of police state methods that are applied at a time when the active engagement of people in the decision making process on all political levels is considered important in Europe.”
The Security Police’s report, published in April, discussed Kolvart’s activism in fighting new language policies implemented in Russian high schools, as well as his contacts with a Russian Embassy employee, Juri Tsvetkov. The national security agency said Tsvetkov could manipulate Kolvart, making him vulnerable to foreign influence. Kolvart said the security agency has attempted to discredit him for thinking differently, and that he would continue his political campaigning against the language transition of Russian public high schools. The Interior Ministry, which oversees the Security Police, said the mention of Kolvart in the report was a “preemptive measure.”