3 Apr 2024 18:25

Estonian PM doesn't believe bill on depriving Russians, Belarusians living in Estonia of right to vote in local elections will be adopted

TALLINN. April 3 (Interfax) - Kaja Kallas, Estonian prime minister and chair of the Reform Party, said she does not believe that the bill on depriving Russians and Belarusians living in Estonia of the right to vote in elections to local self-governance bodies drafted by her party will be adopted by the parliament.

"We have drafted [a bill] that can suspend the rights of citizens of Russia and Belarus without having to change the constitution. This draft did not get support, you yourself don't support it," Kallas said at the government's information hour in the parliament on Wednesday.

"If the republic's President Alar Karis already said he will not proclaim [approve] this law; if the chancellor of justice said she will definitely appeal to the State Court if the president proclaims this law, we will stir up a lot of froth, but will not achieve a real result," the prime minister said.

On April 1, Reform Party faction member Partel-Peeter Pere said that "in the near future, the Reform Party will submit a bill to the parliament, which will allow depriving third country citizens of the right vote in municipal elections without amending the constitution."

The bill will be submitted next week, Pere said as he commented on talks to form a new coalition in Tallinn.

The issue of depriving citizens of Russia and Belarus living in Estonia of the right to vote in municipal elections started being discussed recently due to the change of administration in Tallinn, where some one-third of the population are Russian-speaking residents, who traditionally vote for the Center Party, which rules in the capital.

About a third of the Tallinn population are Russian speakers. Center Party Chairman, Russian-speaking politician Mikhail Kolvart, who repeatedly spoke in favor of Russian-language education in Estonia and defended the right of schools to choose the language of education, has been the mayor of Tallinn since April 2019.

On March 26, the City Assembly passed a motion of no confidence in Kolvart, following a court ruling that found corruption in the construction of the Porto Franco complex in Tallinn. Kolvart himself was not charged with corruption.

The talks on a new coalition, which began on Sunday, centered on removing the Center Party, traditionally supported by most Russian-speaking voters, from office.