This morning a well-known entrepreneur phoned me and said, “Janek – I was not able to phone you yesterday – you know, the whole Estonia is cleaning their drawers!” The comment was ironic, yet witty. Everybody who is active in Estonia is worrying that their phones are being snooped, and perhaps they say something wrong. This is not a fear that something wrong has been done, but a fear that something may be interpreted wrong. 

For certain, there is more corruption in Estonia than it becomes public. Dishonesty, deliberate avoidance of taxes to the entire thieving. Also, emotional corruption – a conscious and subconscious favouring of friends and families.

Emotional corruption thrives the most openly (once again, a friend of someone was appointed), because it is something for not put into prison. The parties don’t have to say one word, they don’t do any deeds, however, they favour each other.

That is how the people who have good relations with someone relevant become ministers and senior officials. The same is in business – a reference is not always neutral. More specifically – they never are. Therefore – everything that is going on here is suspicious or very suspicious in the eyes of somebody. Nevertheless, it is a thing impossible to avoid – because only those are being trusted with whom we have an emotional bond. Whom we love. And those who are being hated cannot get a job even if they are the best, cheapest or strongest. Edgar Savisaar is being loved in Tallinn, and hated in Toompea.

Political parties cannot stand idiots

Yesterday’s news did not surprise much the society. I remember when during the Eastern Money Scandal there was a Christmas reception by Edgar Savisaar, the mayor of Tallinn, in the town hall, I was invited as the president of the European Draughts Federation and I saw that real elite was present.

Likewise today, Savisaar says that he’s been attacked since he is back in politics with two feet on the ground. A powerful image. The supporters became significantly more inspired. There is like a constant war between Muslims (black political parties) and Christians (white political parties) in Estonia, in any case you need to choose one side’s trench. You cannot be an idiot (neutral in the Senate of the Ancient Rome).

In Estonia, the elite (and naturally the public, although it is not so noticeably perceptible) is forced to choose a clear side – are you a supporter of for example Savisaar or Rõivas. However, the entrepreneurs don’t want to change into the slaves of the Estonian Centre Party nor the Estonian Reform Party. In that case some people give both parties equally the same. And unintentionally slave for both.

Estonian political parties in power (both in Toompea and in downtown) strongly impose themselves. If you are not in our side, then you are against us. Entrepreneurs want to be free. They are looking for income opportunities, but often power becomes an obstacle. It is not possible to adopt the zoning plan. Time goes, money burns. This is a time when different kinds of measures come into play. All of them are definitely not of criminal nature, whereas, some are.

Physical and mental inducement

Regarding this present scandal, there are some people who have clearly chosen a side and become ridiculous. Both those who gloat, and those who guard the honour. The Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas says that the mere suspicion is a serious blow to Estonian reputation, although some names belong also to the supporters of the Estonian Reform Party. Many ordinary people feel that the question is not about Estonian reputation, but about the reputation of Estonian public administration. This reputation is bad. According to the research results, there have been several cases of physical corruption in Tallinn and people are imprisoned for this. However, the Mecca of mental corruption is still Toompea.


Regardless of who is in power. Their own people are favoured, given jobs etc. This kind of cancer is not less fatal for the state than the direct filling of own pockets. In both cases, the Estonian Internal Security Service should have enough work.

Probably we need to adopt a law that also investigates emotional corruption. One of the sarcastic examples of this is the sad message of Sven Mikser about how he sat on the backseat of the car, but the car did not start to drive. The new leader Jevgeni Ossionovski favoured his own people. And eliminated the disloyal ones. In business, this is called the management.

Estonian politicians are often employees, not philanthropists. However, we still need both. People whose personal loans are in the amount of hundreds of thousands Euros, but their salary barely can settle this debt are open to temptations.

I remember when my former chief, Ain Hanschmidt, the leader of Ühispank (the predecessor of SEB bank) at that time, said, “They are not interested in me, they are interested in my signature”. In case of Savisaar and other influential state’s senior officials it is clear that their signatures cost millions, although they do not gain much of it for themselves. This was also the case in the Port of Tallinn.

Big money, great influence bring along great risks. I don’t believe any people who claim that they would not do anything illegal or unethical if they were in the same situation. Maybe not, but maybe they would just exactly do that. There are many examples. Let’s take for example the great lies about the allowances for professional expenses by the young politicians before the elections. Some of the silver-tongued members of the new parliament have been caught as well. The silver-tongued members who have collected a pile of silver by now.

Heroizing the legality is also questionable. The laws are a societal agreement about how we live here. An order. At the same time, several laws that rather need to be changed immediately are adopted for the propagandist reasons. They do not make order, but create disorder. They are adopted to serve somebody’s interest. Nevertheless, fighting against them is difficult. Because there is so much emotional corruption. There is always someone who knows someone to whom one or another falsity is necessary. And they stand for it. With two feet.