Former Estonian PM under fire for alleged sexual harassment

Former Estonian PM under fire for alleged sexual harassment
By bne IntelliNews October 16, 2017

The former Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas has stepped down as deputy speaker of the parliament following press accounts of alleged sexual harassment during a trade mission to Malaysia, Estonian media reported on October 13.

The charges mark a new low for Roivas whose Reform Party’s coalition government collapsed in late 2016 and paved the way for the outcast Centre Party to take power in the Baltic state.

On October 12, the Estonian newspaper Eesti Paevaleht quoted an unnamed woman as saying Roivas sexually harassed her during a party in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Roivas was in Malaysia and Singapore as part of an Estonian trade mission.

The woman said Roivas kissed her “very aggressively, which was unpleasant. “What happened next was completely out of control, he pulled up my dress and groped me,” she said.

Roivas only said he had danced “too close” to the woman, a fact that he did not realise at the time. He described charges as unfair and politically motivated.

Eesti Paevaleht’s editor Urmo Soonvald told the news website ERR that the account of the events in Kuala Lumpur that he published was in fact toned down “to protect the families of the people involved.”

“We all understand that if Taavi Roivas hadn’t conducted himself the way our source described, he wouldn’t have apologized to the Estonian people, to his family, and resigned from the position of deputy speaker. He knows why he is resigning,” Soonvald said.

The story of the ex-PM’s alleged misconduct ran just before the local election in Estonia, which took place on October 15. According to early results, the ruling Centre Party won the contest at 27.3% of the vote. Roivas’ Reform Party was third at 19.5%.

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