EKRE accusing researcher Viljar Veebel, Estonian media of slander regarding their alleged Wagner link

The opposition Estonian Conservative People’s Party – colloquially known as EKRE – has announced it will file a lawsuit warning in the next few days against the Baltic Defence College researcher Viljar Veebel who, according to the party, provided false information to the international publication Politico, and against the Estonian media outlets that have quoted Veebel, as EKRE is demanding they refute their claims and apologise.

The party also demands that Veebel and the Estonian media should immediately stop spreading what EKRE calls false claims and to add a clear announcement to said claims informing readers of their inaccuracy already this week and in the same volume and in equally visible form as the initial published claims.

Otherwise, the party will file a lawsuit against all the publishers of publications and other people that have spread said alleged slander, demanding the rebuttal of incorrect information, the cessation of harmful behaviour and compensation for damages.

EKRE says the party has never had any contact with the Wagner group or any other Russian organisation, and calls any statements to the contrary deliberate disinformation, the aim of which is to influence the outcome of the parliamentary election, due to take place on 5 March.

Viljar Veebel. Photo by Andres Tennus/University of Tartu.

Politico: Wagner tried to interfere in the Estonian politics

The party pointed out that before the previous parliamentary election, Mary Kross, the spouse of the Reform Party member Eerik-Niiles Kross, filed a bogus complaint with the police about a foreign national having been attacked at Stroomi beach in Tallinn in an attempt to start a slander campaign against EKRE.

Politico reported on 18 February that the Russian paramilitary group Wagner schemed to support EKRE ahead of the 2019 European Parliament election, according to a strategy memo reviewed by Politico and corroborated by experts using open-source information. Wagner tried to interfere in the political system in Estonia through EKRE, according to Politico.

The publication cited Viljar Veebel, a researcher at the Baltic Defence College, who said, “The cooperation started because EKRE wanted to be radically against the liberal parties, and they were happy to receive this very professionally prepared package.” It’s unclear whether the operatives executed this specific plan before the European parliament elections in 2019, according to Politico.

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