Estonian official fired for reporting corruption

Estonia's Prime Minister Jüri Ratas on Monday dismissed Illar Lemetti, Secretary General of the Ministry of Rural Affairs, for informing the prosecution about suspicions that his superior was involved in corrupt dealings. A few hours later, the minister himself, a member of the far-right party Ekre, was also forced to step down. Estonian media are incensed that Lemetti has been punished for showing courage.

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Eesti Päevaleht (EE) /

A fatal signal to public servants

Eesti Päevaleht harshly criticises the prime minister:

“The view that civil servants must always comply with ministerial orders without questioning them is wrong. The law says clearly that officials must refuse if an order violates the law or if corruption is involved. After yesterday's decision, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas's moral compass can be declared definitively broken. Giving his approval for the dismissal of an official simply because he reported a case of corruption is shameful and short-sighted. ... This sends a fatal signal to all public servants: if they dare to comment on suspicions of corruption among ministers or their advisers, they must reckon with being dismissed.”

Äripäev (EE) /

Honesty being punished

Äripäev also has no understanding for the government's response:

“Äripäev says no to a bureaucratic state and the power of the bureaucracy. ... But the current case is about important values of liberal democracy such as freedom, transparency and constitutionality. If we throw this into the balance, we find that the government's decision to sack Secretary of State Mart Järvik and State Secretary Illar Lemetti is destroying the equilibrium. This sets a dangerous precedent and sends a fatal signal to the public: honesty is being stigmatised. Prime Minister Jüri Ratas has accused the secretary of state of failing to cooperate. But the situation, in which the secretary of state turned to the Prosecutor's Office with suspicions about corruption, doesn't leave much room for cooperation.”