The Minister of Defence Jüri Luik replied to the interpellation concerning Russian influence agents in the Riigikogu and the Government of the Republic (No. 442), submitted by members of the Riigikogu Peeter Ernits, Toomas Väinaste, Heimar Lenk, Marika Tuus-Laul, Enn Eesmaa, Oudekki Loone and Henn Põlluaas on 22 August.
The interpellators wished to know if the statement of the Director General of the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service that his agency had identified “a network who are Russian influence agents and do what the Kremlin tells them to do” was true.
Luik said that, both at the Security Forum in Aspen on 20 July 2018 and in the article published in the daily newspaper “Eesti Päevaleht” on 24 July, the Director General of the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service had clearly and unambiguously spoken of Western Europe, and had made no reference to the Riigikogu or the Government of the Republic.
“We are speaking of a presentation in the form of a conversation panel that discussed Russia’s various aggressive methods in its relationships with the rest of the world. In his speech, Mikk Marran also mentions the use of influence agents, besides military means. This is one of the recognised working methods of the Russian state, whereby persons who are influential in another society are used to weaken the country and to impose Russia’s positions,” Luik said.
The Minister of Defence explained that influence agents were roughly divided into three categories. There are persons who are given immediate tasks by Russian governmental authorities. There are those who go along for the sake of economic gain or political success, but do not receive direct orders. And then there are those who may be called “useful idiots”, who simply echo aggressive positions because they happen to believe in them.
Luik stressed that the Director General had made a presentation to specialists. He had spoken of methods, and had mentioned no names of any politicians of any country. The topic of influence agents can be found in journals and presentations, it is not new. “The interpellators have taken some elements of the speech and have tried to ascertain by way of a mind-game if there are Russian influence agents in the Estonian Riigikogu or the Government. All these names and conclusions come from the interpellators. Mainly from Peeter Ernits, I understand,” Luik said. He underlined that all that was total speculation, and that he had neither the grounds nor the competence to comment that.
Luik explained that the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service did not engage in intelligence activities in Estonia, that is, in other words, counter-intelligence, and therefore that statement could not pertain to Estonia in any way. “The Internal Security Service conducts counter-intelligence in the Republic of Estonia. The Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service conducts counter-intelligence only for the protection of its staff, persons recruited for co-operation, and property in its possession. Thus the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service cannot have data about Estonian politicians who may be influence agents, and nor has the Director General of the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service ever claimed that it did. “The text that you referred to does not concern Estonia, but Western Europe, and this can be clearly understood when reading the presentation of the Director General as a whole,” Luik said.
During the open microphone, Märt Sults took the floor.
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu
(NB! The recording will be uploaded with a delay.)
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