Estonian PM Kallas fends off accusations over husband’s alleged Russia business ties
Estonia’s Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has fended off accusations that the company owned by her husband, Arvo Hallik, does business with Russian clients.
It was revealed this week that transport company Stark Logistics has still been doing business with Russia after the start of the war in Ukraine, despite Kallas’s criticism of companies that continue to do business with Russia.
The PM insists she is “confident that the companies owned by her husband do not engage in morally wrongful activity”.
“My husband's business has no clients in the Russian Federation and does not arrange any transportation in Russia. As soon as this war began, they, like many other businesses, severed all ties with Russian customers in Russia and terminated the associated contracts,” she told ERR.ee, the website of Estonian national broadcaster ERR.
When repeatedly asked if her husband transports goods from Estonia to Russia, Kallas replied: “You can pose these questions to my husband's company, and they will most likely respond. I don't do this business; you might not believe it, but being prime minister is a very demanding job; I don't have time to run a side business. What I am absolutely certain and confident about is that my husband's companies are not engaging in any immoral activity.”
When asked if she thinks it is right for Estonian logistics companies to be doing this kind of business a year and a half after the war in Ukraine started, the PM said: “No, I don't think this would be right and that is why he does not do this business. I can't respond to these questions. I have seen the data, and I am guessing they will make it public if they get the customer's permission. But, once again, I have got my hands full as prime minister, I am not involved in his business and I know that my husband has no clients in the Russian Federation. The last agreement… I'm not going there; they will have to answer for themselves.”
In June, Kallas's declaration disclosed that she had lent €350,000 to Hallik’s business, Novaria Consult, of which Hallik is the sole owner. The corporation holds a 24.8% stake in Stark Logistics AS, ERR.ee said.
The prime minister has been strongly criticised in Estonia. The Estonian daily Postimees pinpoints the apparent contradiction between the PM’s words and deeds, blasting her in an editorial titled "Palume selgitusi, peaminister!" ("We're asking for explanations, prime minister").
"Whereas up unto today, the tax theme had been her most major stumbling block (read my lips: Taxes will not rise) then now, the problem is Kallas' husband's business dealings with Russia at a time when the prime minister has, in various European capitals and at home, demanded zero tolerance on any relations with Russia,” it reads.
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