Litigation used to move against opposition

Chairman of the Center Party Riigikogu faction Kersti Sarapuu and members of her family demand damages and a public apology from Reform Party faction chair Jürgen Ligi and EKRE MP Martin Helme.

“The Sarapuu family’s non-patrimonial damages claims against you could amount to a total of €50,000-100,000,” a letter of claim forwarded through Sarapuu’s counsel reads - writes

The unprecedented situation follows allusions of connections between centrists, coach operators, and corruption, all leading up to a recent vote of no confidence against Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson (Center). Ligi claims the ruling party tried to nip the vote in the bud by threatening countermeasures. The opposition politician says that when he expressed his bewilderment at this, Kersti Sarapuu threatened to sue him.

That is just what happened: the vote of no confidence took place on January 10, and on January 11, a letter of claim from sworn lawyer Oliver Nääs and lawyer Rainer Ratnik from law firm Lextal landed in Jürgen Ligi’s mailbox. Martin Helme received a similar letter a day later.

Because the lawyers claim that Ligi has involved the entire Sarapuu family, each member is suing him separately for a total of €50,000-100,000. The letter dictates a public apology Ligi is expected to make that should be published in two national newspapers and paid for by the recipient.

The claim against Martin Helme comes only from Arvo Sarapuu, former Tallinn deputy mayor, who is currently a suspect in a corruption investigation. He is demanding €10,000 and a public apology.

Nääs said that what Ligi and Helme have uttered constitute serious allegations readers associate with concrete violations.

“The claims were not random words, but conscious action in painting a negative picture of persons. The claims are false and mar the reputation of the Sarapuu family,” Nääs explained.

“Riigikogu is a place of political debate, not settling of personal scores. The position of MP does not come with the right to smear fellow citizens or colleagues,” the sworn lawyer added.

Nääs is probably looking at a fair payday as Ligi and Helme are determined to fight the action. “My assessment of the situation is that this letter needs to be binned, which is also what our counsel said. We are not paying a cent,” Helme said. The politician added that someone suspected of corruption would do well to keep a lower profile.

Opposition leaders were taken aback by this kind of pressure. Free Party chairman Artur Talvik said that Sarapuu should just talk it out with Ligi and Helme in the Riigikogu. “I will not get into whether free coaches are a good idea; however, I do perceive the danger of subsidies reaching fellow party members, and that is a dangerous tendency,” Talvik said.

Talvik said he is not bothered so much by recent tax changes and the amateurish way in which they have been prepared. “What bothers me is that Edgar Savisaar did not take Center’s corrupt mindset with him when he left. And now they plan to defend it in court. Have at it!” Talvik said.

If the shoe fits, said chairman of the Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) Mart Helme, father of Martin Helme. “It is totally unacceptable we are seeing this kind of forcing of hands and such letters,” Helme said. “Instead of clearing matters up on the floor or in committees using explanations and calculations, they threaten us with legal action. Get out of here!”

Leaders of other parties were also surprised. “This is a new and somewhat unexpected practice,” said social democrats’ faction chair Kalvi Kõva. “If one feels they cannot contain hostile action, it is a legitimate way to fight for one’s rights.” He added, however, that it is not a step he has ever considered.

Chairman of the Pro Patria Res Publica Union (EKRE) Helir-Valdor Seeder was somewhat softer. “Ideally, there should be no place for false claims, threats, blackmail in Estonian culture. Real life is different, and justice needs to be administered by the court once things escalate that far,” Seeder said.

Kersti Sarapuu said that ascertaining the truth does not depend on her or anybody else’s political role in the Riigikogu, and that it should be a welcome development for everyone, including the press. She added that the decision to go to court has nothing to do with her party affiliation or the vote of no confidence against Simson.

Read more news of Tallinn on our site.
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
2 views in january
I recommend
No recommendations yet


Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

TALLINN – Russia is seeking integration in Estonia only in words, Kalev Stoicescu, researcher at the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS) who is running on the ticket of the Estonia 200 party in the March 3 general elections, said on Wednesday commenting on the words said on the subject by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.  "Russia is the only neighboring state which does not wish -- due to its own interests -- progress in integration...
Former top centrist Evelyn Sepp admitted that she donated money the origin of which was unknown to her to the Center Party in 2006. The former politician claimed other members also engaged in the practice but refused to name names. Sepp’s confession on ETV investigative journalism program «Pealtnägija» does not come as a total bombshell. She first said that such covert funding of parties is a widespread practice in the aftermath of the Silvergate scandal i...
"In addition to our ongoing programme of passenger vessel renovations, we are also continuing to upgrade and modernise our cargo vessels to ensure that we continue to develop this important part of our business," he noted, adding that the relocation of the company's Estonia-Finland cargo route to Muuga on the Estonian side in October 2017 and the launch of the Smart Port solution in Tallinn's Old City Harbour in spring 2018 both contributed to improved ser...
During the final week of 2018, a total of 2,524 patients with viral upper respiratory infections sought medical attention, 47.5% of whom were children. A total of 210 cases of influenza were laboratory confirmed, nearly twice as many as during the week before, according to Health Board data. Over the past two weeks, the number of flu cases has quadrupled. The majority of these cases were laboratory confirmed at emergency medical departments, from which pat...
I actually think that B1 is too low of a bar for attaining citizenship. You still can't participate in Estonian society on anything other than a superficial level as noted above, so I'm not sure how you can constitute a "citizen" on that basis. Naturally there has to be a high degree of arbitrariness, and that's precisely the point — whilst B1 level might be sufficient in German or French (I understand that it is the benchmark level when applying for citiz...
Following a white Christmas throughout most of Estonia, Wednesday will see sleet and even rain in parts of the country, and temperatures hovering around the freezing point will means slippery road conditions. Early Wednesday morning, many major highways were salted or wet, but some patches were still icy, the Estonian Road Administration said. Eastern parts of the country will see scattered rain or sleet. Temperatures throughout the day will remain around...
Last weekend, Christmas Eve as well as Christmas Day and Boxing Day still ahead means that most chemist's shops are closed for five days in a row. Tallinners can still get hold of prescription as well as over-the-counter drugs in the 5 Tõnismägi St and 19 Vikerlase St shops. As doctors' practices are closed for the holidays as well, people will have to turn to the emergency room of a nearby hospital in case of any more serious health problems. In Tallinn,...
Irene Ilves, the mother of former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, died on Tuesday aged 91. Irene Ilves was born on 6 January 1927. An Estonian refugee, she raised her family in New Jersey, on the US East Coast. She is survived by two sons, Andres Eerik and Toomas Hendrik, and four grandchildren, Juulia Kristiine, Luukas Kristjan, Kadri Keiu and Hans Hendrik, Mr Ilves wrote on social media on Wednesday, adding that she will be very missed by family and frie...
Emergency services were called out on Wednesday morning after a man fell through ice at Lake Pühajärv, in South Estonia. The call was received by the Rescue Board at a little after 9.30, though by the time emergency personnel reached the scene, the man, who had walked on to the lake ice to go fishing, had extricated himself and reached dry land. The man stated that he had broken through the ice several times during his ordeal, after venturing about 50 m fr...