Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas is facing a political crisis as her husband’s business dealings with Russia have sparked public outrage and calls for her resignation. Kallas, who has been a vocal supporter of Ukraine and sanctions against Russia, has been accused of hypocrisy and undermining Estonia’s national security.
According to media reports, Stark Logistics, a transport company partly owned by Kallas’s husband, Arvo Hallik, has continued to do business with Russia after the invasion of Ukraine in 2022. The company allegedly helped another Estonian firm, Metaprint, to sell goods worth millions of euros to Russia during the conflict.
Kallas and Hallik have denied any wrongdoing and claimed that they were only helping Metaprint to wrap up its trade in Russia. They also said that their business activities did not violate any sanctions or laws.
However, their explanations have failed to convince many Estonians, who have expressed their anger and disappointment on social media and in opinion polls. A majority of Estonians now want Kallas to step down as prime minister, according to a survey conducted by Estonia’s public broadcaster.
Kallas’s coalition partners, the Social Democrats and Estonia 200, have continued to back her, but opposition parties have seized the opportunity to attack her credibility and leadership. The president of Estonia, Alar Karis, has also demanded answers from Kallas and said that her husband’s business ties with Russia have put “the credibility of the Estonian state into question”.
Kallas has refused to attend a parliamentary committee meeting on Monday, where she was expected to discuss presidential office funding. She may also skip another committee meeting on Tuesday, where she will face questions about her husband’s business activities in Russia.
The scandal has tarnished Kallas’s image as a pro-European and pro-Ukrainian leader, who has been praised for boosting Estonia’s international profile and standing up to Russia. Kallas has previously criticized French President Emmanuel Macron for talking to Russian President Vladimir Putin in the early days of the war in Ukraine.
Estonia is one of the most vocal supporters of Ukraine in the European Union and NATO. The Baltic nation has also been one of the biggest donors of military, humanitarian and economic aid to Ukraine per capita, despite facing inflation of up to 25%.