1.5 Million Connected to Orthodox Church, Says Savisaar

16.12.2010

Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar dismissed allegations that he is an “agent of Russian influence” as an elections-time ploy by his opponents.

Savisaar said the sum of 1.5 million euros which the allegations claim he obtained to enhance the influence of the Russian Federation in Estonia were in fact funds donated from the Andrei Pervozvannoi Fund for the construction of the Russian Orthodox church in the Tallinn neighborhood of Lasnamäe.

Savisaar produced a contract signed by the Orthodox Metropolitan in Estonia, the Andrei Pervozvannoi Fund president, and the mayor himself, which included the specific mention of 1.5 million euros to be donated by the Pervozvannoi Fund.

While the contract was dated as recently as November 26, 2010, Savisaar emphasized that he has been negotiating at least five years to obtain the funding.

In his seven-point statement, Savisaar attempted to draw attention to freedom of religion and said he would turn to human rights organizations, as well as the European Commission for their evaluations of the situation in Estonia.

Savisaar considered the allegations to be connected with the March 6 parliamentary elections. Both major parties to the right of the Centre Party have major problems, he said, including prices gone out of control and unemployment which is not falling. Savisaar attributed the recent allegations as retribution for the difficult situation his opponents are in.

“Corruption charges have caused an emergency situation in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications,” read a prepared statement.

“The recent years’ most flamboyant special operation by the security police to crucify [former mayor of Pärnu] Viisitamm just collapsed in court. In such circumstances the last card in Estonian politics – the Russian card – was played.”

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