Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, one of the European Union’s staunchest critics of the Kremlin, pushed back against mounting criticism over her husband’s links to a logistics company that has made deliveries to a client in Russia.
(Bloomberg) — Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, one of the European Union’s staunchest critics of the Kremlin, pushed back against mounting criticism over her husband’s links to a logistics company that has made deliveries to a client in Russia.
Kallas came under scrutiny from political opponents after public broadcaster ERR reported Wednesday that Stark Logistics AS, a trucking company in which Kallas’s spouse, Arvo Hallik, has a 24% stake, is transporting non-sanctioned goods between Estonia and Russia.
The company, based in the Estonian town of Keila southwest of Tallinn, said it’s helping a client with an aerosol packaging plant in Russia to wind down its operations there — and will carry out a last shipment in September.
Kallas, who has called for Russia’s economic isolation since its invasion of Ukraine, acknowledged Hallik’s stake ownership, but said he has no business clients from Russia. The logistics company is helping the Estonian customer in Russia end production “in accordance with laws and sanctions,” she said in a statement posted on Facebook Wednesday.
“I remain of the view that all trade and business with Russia must cease as long as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues,” Kallas said on Facebook Wednesday.
No business on behalf of Stark’s client has benefited Russia and deliveries “have been entirely lawful in substance as well as form,” the company’s general manager, Kristian Kraag, said in a statement in response to a query from Bloomberg. Hallik, who is listed on Stark’s website as the chief financial officer, directed queries to Kraag.
After a convincing election victory in March swept her into a second term in office, Kallas has since seen backing for her center-right Reform Party slip in some polls.
Mart Helme, a leader of the far-right EKRE party and former cabinet minister, demanded Kallas’s resignation. Urmas Reinsalu, who served as Kallas’s hawkish foreign minister in her previous governing coalition, called the situation “shameful” for Estonia, an “inherent ethical problem” — and accused Reform of previously rejecting a proposal to halt all goods shipments to Russia.
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