Estonia. In February, two men, father and son, were
sentenced to six and 15 years in prison for spying. The son,
who received the longest sentence for treason, is the former
officer of the Estonian defense. They had both provided the
Russian Federation with military secrets for a decade. The
officer had been recruited through extortion of the Russian
security service, after visiting a woman in the Russian
Federation and then arrested by police accused of rape.
Later in the year, a Russian citizen was sentenced to
five years in prison for espionage in Estonia. According to
Estonian media, at least 15 people have been arrested in
Estonia in recent years on suspicion of conspiracy with
CountryAAH, Estonia's Financial Supervisory Authority in February
ordered Danske Bank to discontinue its operations in the
country. The decision came after an investigation into money
laundering at the bank's office in Tallinn with black money
from the Russian Federation and other former Soviet
republics. This was described as the largest money
laundering in the world. The bank was given eight months to
At the same time, suspicions of money laundering in the
multi-billion class in Swedbank in Estonia were revealed
with links to Danske Bank. Prosecutors also launched an
investigation by Swedbank, and three Estonian executives
were allowed to leave the bank. According to an internal
report, around € 135 billion of high risk had passed through
Swedbank in Estonia, mainly from the bank's customers in the
Later in the year, Danske Bank's former CEO in Estonia
was found dead after suspected suicide. He had been
interrogated in the investigation of the bank's money
laundering but refused to intervene.
In the March parliamentary elections, the ruling
tripartite coalition lost its majority. The Opposition
Market Liberal Reform Party won with 34 seats ahead of the
ruling and leftist Center Party with 26. Right-wing populist
and national conservative Ekre (Estonian Conservative
People's Party) nearly tripled to 19 seats, largely by votes
in poor rural areas with unemployment. The coalition parties
Fäderneslandet and the Social Democrats went back to 12 and
10 seats respectively.
The leader of the reform party Kaja Kallas wanted to form
a coalition with the Center Party, but the center leader and
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas instead started talks with Ekre,
despite the fact that the Center, before the election, said
no to government cooperation with the EU-critical and
Jüri Rata's turnaround received harsh criticism and was
considered to undermine confidence in the political system.
Ekre's controversial party leader Mart Helme fought back
against the critics and threatened to trigger street ravages
among poor citizens if the Reform Party and the media
hampered the negotiations. Despite political differences of
opinion, the Center Party, the Ekre and the nationalist
Federneslandet agreed on coalition cooperation.
After the Reform Party's Kaja Kallas was voted down in
Parliament, President Kersti Kaljulaid apparently
reluctantly gave Jüri Rata's mission to form a new
coalition. She emphasized that every member of the
government must respect the constitution and its values.
Ratas was approved by Parliament with 55 votes to 44.
The day after the government's entry, one of Ekre's
ministers must resign. The Foreign Trade Minister was
investigated by police on suspicion of domestic violence.
The problems continued and Ratas was forced to repeatedly
declare or apologize for the statements made by the
Ministers of Economy. In August, the president reported that
Finance Minister Martin Helme, deputy party leader in Ekre
and son of the party leader, was inappropriate as a
minister. Helme had tried to dismiss the country's police
chief, even though he had no power to do so.
The Reform Party demanded a vote of no confidence in
Parliament against Prime Minister Ratas, but it was
supported by a majority. By the end of the year, Ratas had
been forced to replace another two of Ekre's ministers.
Ekre said no to refugees under the EU's quota system. At
an EU meeting in October, Eklar leader and Interior Minister
Mart Helme said that as long as his party is in government,
Estonia should not accept a single immigrant from Africa or
the Middle East. According to Helme, Estonia probably had
problems with immigrants from Ukraine, which he proposed to
stop. According to Estonian media, in October 61 people were
in the country's asylum center.
During the year, China reported interest in the
construction of a railway tunnel under the Gulf of Finland
between Tallinn and Helsinki. A Chinese finance company
promised EUR 15 billion for the project, which would then be
implemented by Chinese construction companies by 2024 in
collaboration with a Finnish contractor. The Estonian
government described the timetable as unrealistic and
expressed concern over funding from China.
In this year's PISA survey, Estonia's school pupils had
the best results in the EU in all three categories: reading
comprehension, mathematics and science.