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 november
I recommend
No recommendations yet


Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Coalition partner the Social Democratic party (SDE) has announced its top riders for the March 2019 elections in Estonia's 12 electoral districts, though its full list will be confirmed in December, the party says. There are no real surprises on a well-stocked list which includes the recently-attracted Indrek Tarad, currently still an independent MEP. Mr Tarand, whilst standing for SDE, has not as yet become a party member. Since the system in Estonia is a...
According to Statistics Estonia, the change of the consumer price index in October 2018 was 0.5% compared to September and 4.4% compared to October of the previous year. Goods were 3.7% and services 5.7% more expensive compared to October 2017, while regulated prices of goods and services increased by 9.1%, and non-regulated prices by 3.1%. Compared to October 2017, the consumer price index was affected the most by transport, which contributed nearly a thi...
The Ministry of Culture has rejected the request of English-language web magazine Estonian World (EW) for support from the state to to the tune of €5,000 for the remainder of 2018. The ministry has, however, promised to seek opportunities for supporting the portal in 2019. "Unfortunately, the support to this extent of English-language Estonian media outlets is not provided for in the agenda and budget of the government-approved Compatriots Programme for th...
Last Wednesday, Theatre NO99 abruptly announced that it would be closing its doors, with its final performances scheduled for November and December. The theatre will be vacating a large building at the Central Tallinn address of Sakala 3, interest in which has been expressed by Sakala Skene, a new open centre for the performing arts and theatre education. Sakala Skene is a new brand uniting Polygon Theatre and Polygon Threatre School, Old Baskin's Theatre,...
The European Athletics Council has decided to award the right to host the European Athletics Under 20 Championships in 2021 to the Estonian Athletic Association, which will stage the event at Tallinn's Kadriorg Stadium. The same format was previously successfully hosted by the Estonian Athletic Association in 2011, in collaboration with the City of Tallinn. At the European Athletics Council meeting in Budapest, the Estonian bid to host the event was presen...
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reopened the Estonian embassy in Budapest. The ministry announced the step on social media on Monday, saying that starting 5 November the embassy is offering consular services again. The embassy is providing consular services and assistance starting 5 November. Anyone who would like their documents issued there can indicate so on the application form, the ministry said. Consular services are available by advance appointm...
Every day, some 30 people in Estonia call the Health Board complaining that a family doctor in Tallinn won't take them as a patient even though they technically have room on their patient rosters to accept new patients. Family doctors, however, find that working with too large a patient list could jeopardise the quality and accessibility of their care. Estonian Society of Family Doctors chairperson Le Vallikivi explained to daily Postimees that they are fa...
Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) Riigikogu group chair Martin Helme has paid to boost his social media presence and used Riigikogu expenses benefits to pay for highlighting posts, a recent Riigikogu Chancellery document reveals. Postimees wrote earlier in the week about EKRE’s social media success and how their messages seem to reach more voters. Facebook’s company pages can be highlighted to reach more people. But the practice costs money. Bought posts...
40% of employers in Estonia intend to increase their employees' wage levels, while 39% are planning on creating new positions and 70% intend to hire new employees to replace outgoing workers and fill temporary or new positions, it appears from a survey conducted by recruitment portal and the Salary Information Agency. "40% of employers are planning to raise their employees' basic salaries, which is indicative of the wage pressures resulting fro...