Tallinn City Government has proposed to the city council to give ex-President Arnold Rüütel a residential lot of over 3,000 square metres in Maarjamäe in Tallinn for free, writes Eesti Päevaleht in its editorial.
According to the paper, one must suspect that Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar has his own personal interest behind the proposal, namely to associate his name with that of Arnold Rüütel who is widely respected among the Estonians, especially older population, and gain their respect in the upcoming Europarliament elections.
Savisaar’s image among Estonian-speaking population has recently been tarnished by his remarks about Russia and Ukraine. It seems that while Savisaar’s position among Russian-speakers remains strong, he is now keen to build bridges to Estonian voters as well.
Without questioning Rüütel’s role in Estonia’s history and regaining independence, one has to wonder also about the timing because Arnold Rüütel will have a birthday on May 10, only weeks before EP elections. Since Rüütel will be turning 86, it is not a jubilee and one wonders why such a lavish gift, especially since real estate agencies appraise such land in Maarjamäe at over 200 euros per square metre.
Especially since the City did not honor in particular Arnold Rüütel when he turned 80 or 85. Rüütel is also at such an age that residential land is hardly the most fitting gift for him. Another issue is that in the draft bill which the city government gave to the city council, the city says that it has asked the state to release Rüütel from land tax, but has not received a response.
This also shows that Savisaar’s gift to Rüütel is a questionable one because there is a third party involved and the relations between the central government and the Tallinn city government are not the best, to say the least.