Media expert: Estonia, a country of scandals

28.12.2012, 12:39

Raul Rebane wrote in Postimees daily that one problem with Estonia is that the country is bogged down in scandals while there seems to be less ability in the society to objectively assess the situation.

Defining scandals as information blasts that have long-term impact, affect many people and cause major changes, Rebane writes that in the last twenty years, there have been nine major scandals in Estonia.

The list includes:

(1) Mart Laar shooting the Savisaar’s photo,
(2) Recording scandal,
(3) Siim Kallas’s 10-million-kroon scandal;
(4) Apartment scandal;
(5) Land  swapping scandal;
(6) KGB money (2010);
(7) Veerpalu’s doping scandal (2011); 
(8) Residential permit scandal (Permitgate, 2011)
(9 Reform Party funding scandal (Silvergate, 2012).”

Rebane says that what’s interesting is that almost half of major scandals have taken place in the last two years. “Moreover, all of them are still having an impact and affect our feelings and behaviour for a long time,” he writes.

Rebane writes that, as for the most recent scandal, Reform Party lost about half of its public support in just six months.

“Reform Party was not hit by budget debate, but something much more powerful: people’s emotions. The denial campaign that started on May 23 resulted in the loss of the biggest value of a politician: integrity.”

This process peaked in the autumn with the public protest movement and the publication of the Charter 12.

All these years in the middle of scandals have left their mark and many people now feel that Estonia is not a good place to live and that they should leave.

“I believe that Estonia that will step into 2013 is stronger than what it was a year ago. Stronger because we have got a major experience and learned that life must be lived not by scandals.”

Commenting the article, Kalle Muuli, former editor of Postimees, wrote that he was disappointed to see that so few scandals made it to the list.

“Mart Laar’s first government 1992-1994 was full of scandals, mainly because of the young age of ruling politicians, but for some reason none of the scandals have made it to the list.

What about the weapons deal with the Israelis? It lasted for several years and caused many public outbursts. Opposition and press accused the government of corruption, Chief of Staff Aleksander Einseln accused the PM of conspiracy with the Jews and one MP even sued the prime minister for damages.

An even bigger scandal was the ruble deal which resulted in the exit of Social Democrats from the government, the parliament voted non confidence against Laar and toppled the first legitimate government. It was the only time when the parliament has voted non confidence against the PM.

As for other scandals worthy of the list there is the privatization of Estonian Railways with its Angottis, Sposatos and others. Mihkel Pärnoja was forced out of politics, the head of the Privatization Agency went to prison and the state finally bought back the controlling share in the company.

And what about the removal of the Bronze Soldier or the Lihula monument dispute that destroyed the reputation of Res Publica and prime minister Juhan Parts) the loss of about 100 secret documents from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as a result of which the PM fired Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland and the ruling coalition collapsed.

From the business world, there are the collapse of the Tartu Commercial Bank, the crash of Maapank and the Daiwa affair that brought down Estonian Savings Bank.