Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas’s husband said he’ll exit a logistics company that exports to Russia as the premier faces increasing pressure to resign.
(Bloomberg) — Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas’s husband said he’ll exit a logistics company that exports to Russia as the premier faces increasing pressure to resign.
Arvo Hallik, who owns a 24% stake in the company, Stark Logistics AS, said he’ll sell the holding and resign as a member of the board of directors and chief financial officer. Stark’s export of goods to a client in Russia came to light this week and forced Kallas, who has called for Russia’s economic isolation, to respond to accusations of hypocrisy.
“I apologize for the situation that has arisen and for the damage it has caused to my wife,” Hallik said in an emailed statement. “I assure everyone that my wife was not aware of my business activities.”
Read More: Estonia Leader Has ‘Nothing to Hide’ on Spouse’s Russia Activity
Kallas, who began a second term after decisively winning an election in March, has struggled to contain the criticism. Two polls this week show that a majority of respondents say she should step down.
Speaking to local news outlet Delfi on Friday evening, Kallas acknowledged the public’s frustration but said she had no plans to resign.
“Politics is not done based on flash surveys,” the premier said, adding that she was prepared for a potential confidence vote.
The fallout has been a dramatic shift of fortune for Kallas, who has earned a reputation as one of the European Union’s most hawkish voices against the Kremlin. She’s been tipped to lead NATO or ascend to high office in the EU.
On Thursday, Kallas said she had no detailed overview of the activities of Stark, which the company said is helping an Estonian client in Russia end its production. “Not a single euro, dollar or ruble” made its way to Russia as part of the activity, Kallas told reporters.
Hallik also addressed a €350,000 ($378,000) loan Kallas made to a company belonging to her husband. The funds, which were used to “make various financial investments,” were repaid in installments this year, he said. Kallas had declared the loan in filings earlier this year.
Surveys conducted by pollsters Norstat and Turu-uuringud on Thursday and Friday found that the majority of respondents wanted Kallas to resign, local media reported.
–With assistance from Deana Kjuka.
(Updates with Kallas has no plans to resign from fifth paragraph.)
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