Estonia: Kallas compromised by Russian business ties

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has come under fire over her husband Arvo Hallik's business activities. Estonian media have reported that he holds shares in a logistics company that has continued to do business with Russia. Kallas has now refused to appear before a parliamentary committee to answer questions about the allegations. Europe's press takes stock.

Open/close all quotes
Õhtuleht (EE) /

A crisis of democracy

Kallas's behaviour poses a threat to the country's stability, Õhtuleht criticises:

“This can only be described as a growing crisis of democracy in Estonia. ... The prime minister's ever more blatant hypocrisy is exacerbating the situation. Kallas's current style - covering up, denying, running away and thus fuelling the crisis - crosses a Rubicon from which there is no easy coming back. The blind arrogance of the Reform Party's internal politics has claimed new victims: Kallas's political image and the domestic political equilibrium.”

Delfi (LT) /

All Europe suffers from the Kallas syndrome

Estonia is not the only place where hypocrisy is a problem, Delfi stresses:

“The supposedly clueless wife made political capital by supporting Ukraine and denouncing the West's hesitant support for Ukraine while the logistically savvy husband made real profits in Russia. ... The whole of Europe is suffering from the Kallas syndrome. The EU has imposed one set of sanctions against Russia after the next, but the flow of goods via Lithuania and Poland - the EU's gateway to the east - continues undiminished. Poland announced the closure of its border crossings, but the circulation of goods to the east continued unabated. Despite the harsh anti-Russian rhetoric tonne after tonne of EU trade merchandise has been smuggled past the sanctions.”

RFI România (RO) /

Chances of top Nato post shrinking

Such a situation wouldn't raise many eyebrows in Romania but it's a very different story in the rest of Europe, writes journalist Ovidiu Nahoi on RFI România:

“Are the moral standards by which Kaja Kallas is judged in her country too high? Many Romanians may think so as long as a minister in the Bucharest government lobbying for a Chinese technology company with ties to the communist government is the norm. As for the head of government in Tallinn, one thing is certain: the chances of her taking over the post of Nato secretary general, for which she was touted as a top candidate in the international press, are now shrinking.”

Õhtuleht (EE) /

Integrity unnecessarily sullied

For Õhtuleht, both Kallas and her office have been tarnished:

“It is extremely bitter when Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, known throughout the world as Estonia's 'war princess' and clarifier of pro-Russian misunderstandings, has in her own household a person who did not have the good sense to cut all ties with that country. True, there ameliorating circumstances: the business interests are minimal, it's only a matter of him holding shares in the company, and the only thing that was done was to help liquidate a company. But in certain professions one must literally be free of any shadows, also within the family circle. When you are prime minister there is no such thing as private life.”

Postimees (EE) /

Serious loss of credibility

Postimees demands explanations from the head of government:

“Kaja Kallas is facing the biggest crisis of her career due to a contradiction between her words and her actions. Has Kallas herself never asked herself whether her husband's dealings with Russia comply with the international sanctions in form and content? If not, this would be a sign of utter naivety; if she has, it would be a sign of complicity and would largely destroy the credibility of Kallas' pro-Ukraine rhetoric. It is essential that you give us more explanations, Prime Minister!”