Estonian Jews concerned with entry of far-right into government

Estonia’s Jewish community voiced concerns over an unprecedented move to include a far-right party in the country’s next government.

Outgoing centre-left prime minister Juri Ratas launched coalition talks last week with the far-right EKRE party after its support surged in a recent general election.

The move by Ratas, which has been roundly criticised even from within his own party, is aimed at preventing the winning liberal Reform Party from forming a government.

EKRE leader Mart Helme has publicly expressed xenophobic, sexist and homophobic views, and the members of his party have included people convicted of violent crimes and Nazi sympathisers.

“Many statements of this party (EKRE) are antagonistic towards national minorities and aim at dividing society into insiders and outsiders. This can only cause frustration and regret,” the Jewish Community of Estonia said in a statement.

The statement of concern followed Saturday’s incident in which Estonia’s chief rabbi and two of his children were accosted on the street on their way to synagogue by a man who shouted antisemitic insults at them. Rabbi Shmuel Kot said the man shouted “Sieg Heil” and “Heil Hitler” at him while the rabbi was walking to synagogue with two of his children, aged 7 and 12. Kot filed a complaint with police, who used security camera and other footage to identity a suspect and arrest him ahead of an indictment.

Jewish community spokesman Gennadi Gramberg said this was the first serious incident of antisemitism for the Israeli-born rabbi since he moved to Estonia in 2000. There are about 1,950 Jews living in Estonia.

Police in Tallinn are also investigating a separate incident which saw swastikas daubed in green paint on the facade of Ratas’s Centre party headquarters in the Estonian capital over the weekend.

The incident is seen as a reaction to the party’s ongoing coalition talks with the EKRE, which nearly tripled its seats in the March 3 general election.


Subscribe to the EJC newsletter

Get the EJC newsletter, including the latest statements and news from the European Jewish communities, direct to your inbox.

European Jewish Congress will use the information you provide on this form to contact you. We will treat your information with respect and will not share it with others. By clicking Subscribe, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

browse by community