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26 Aug, 2023 08:31

Scandal-hit PM refuses to step down

Estonia's Kaja Kallas, a vocal critic of Moscow, has been under fire over reports her husband's firm kept working in Russia past February 2022
Scandal-hit PM refuses to step down

Estonian Premier Kaja Kallas has made it clear she will not voluntarily vacate her post, despite a major scandal involving her husband that erupted earlier this week. The media reported that his logistics firm continued operating in Russia after the conflict between Kiev and Moscow began last February.

A hardliner when it comes to Russia, Kallas herself has publicly insisted that "all business with Russia must stop" for as long as the fighting continues.

In an interview with the ERR media outlet on Friday, the prime minister said: "I have no plans to resign; I have served and will continue to serve as prime minister for the freedom of Ukraine and for Estonia."

The PM also claimed that since she and her spouse never talk business at home, she is not really in the loop regarding his company’s dealings.

That same day, her husband, Arvo Hallik, announced that he had decided to "immediately" sell all his shares in Stark Logistics, and to resign from the company’s board of directors and quit all the roles he held in the firm.

Hallik clarified that the company had been "carrying out transport services from Estonia to Russia for our client AS Metaprint," because he and his colleagues "believed that we were doing the right thing, helping the right people and saving a good Estonian company."

Meanwhile, according to the latest opinion poll, some 57% of Estonians want to see Prime Minister Kallas resign.

The activities of Hallik’s firm, which could theoretically qualify as a violation of EU sanctions against Russia, were brought to light by the ERR broadcaster on Wednesday. Speaking to reporters, the CEO of Stark Logistics acknowledged that while most of its activities had been redirected to Poland and Scandinavia, some had still been conducted in Russia even after February 24, 2022.

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