Estonian PM apologises for her husband’s business dealings in Russia

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has offered an apology after it was revealed that her husband’s company continued operations in Russia following Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Delfi reported on Monday.

“I certainly apologise to anyone who was hurt by this, but I am responsible for the moral judgements I passed. I still believe that operating in Russia or maintaining relations with Russia is morally wrong when a full-scale war is ongoing. It needs to stop and I call on all Estonian businesses to do so. My position will not change,” she told the media outlet.

At the same time, the politician noted that her husband Arvo Hallik had sold the share in the company in question “for the price of a sandwich”. Kallas added that she did not intend to resign, conceding that “the opposition can trigger a vote of no confidence if they gather enough votes”.

Faced with a lot of media criticism, Hallik announced in late August that he would sell his share in a logistics company that continued to work with Russia following the invasion of Ukraine. The businessman noted that his wife “was not aware of his commercial dealings”. Estonia’s business registry shows that 24.8% of Stark Logistics, the company in question, was held by Novaria Consult owned by Arvo Hallik. ERR writes that Kaja Kallas lent €350,000 to the company, citing her financial declaration.

After the news emerged, Estonian President Alar Karis said that “the public is expecting explanations from the prime minister”. He underlined that he did not know all the details, but reiterated that Kallas should offer a comprehensive comment and said that it was up to her to decide on the next steps.

Following the ERR publication, Kallas denied that her husband had any clients in Russia. She also refused to comment on the Stark Logistics operations, directing reporters to the company itself for comments.

In May 2023, Kallas said in an interview with the Financial Times that she was forced to “plead” with Estonian companies to abandon business with Russia. She also accused local companies of being hypocritical.

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