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At Tuesday’s sitting, the Riigikogu passed the Statement submitted by 66 members of the Riigikogu, which calls on Russia to release Member of the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada Nadiya Savchenko who is being illegally detained.

72 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Statement of the Riigikogu “In Support of Releasing Illegally Imprisoned Nadiya Savchenko” (195 AE), 3 were against, and there was one abstention.

The Statement notes that by imprisoning and illegally detaining a Member of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Russia has violated and is violating the international law, including the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War of 1949 and the Minsk Protocol of 5 September 2014, point 5 of which requests “immediate release of all hostages and illegally detained persons”.

In the Statement, the Riigikogu calls on the Russian Federation to release Nadiya Savchenko and hand her over to Ukraine. In the Statement, the Riigikogu calls for banning the officials of the Russian Federation who are responsible for the capture, detention and illegal trial of Nadiya Savchenko from entering the European Union.

Member of the Riigikogu Keit Pentus-Rosimannus said that in summer 2014 Savchenko had been a Ukrainian military pilot who had gone to fight for her country. She had fallen into the hands of separatists and had been taken across the border to Russia, a sack over her head and her hands cuffed. “The statement of the parliament is one way of showing that we are with Ukraine, and that we insist the release of Nadiya Savchenko and imposition of sanctions on the Russian officials who are responsible for her detention and illegal trial. With Savchenko’s case, Russia has proved once more that it does not adhere to international law, and therefore it cannot be regarded as a reliable partner in organising matters in the world, however much we may wish otherwise,” Pentus-Rosimannus said.

Andres Herkel from the Free Party Faction, Eerik-Niiles Kross from the Reform Party Faction, Mart Nutt from the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction, Sven Mikser from the Social Democratic Party Faction and Henn Põlluaas from the Conservative People’s Party Faction, who took the floor on behalf of factions during the debate, supported the Statement.

Mihhail Stalnuhhin, who took the floor on behalf of the Centre Party Faction, gave an overview of 15 Statements of the Riigikogu. He raised the question of why the parliament makes a Statement in one case, but in other cases does not do so in issues concerning the freedom and the protection of the rights of persons.

Two Bills passed the second reading in the Riigikogu:

According to the Bill on Amendments to the Public Transport Act (159 SE), initiated by members of the Riigikogu Urve Palo and Deniss Boroditsh, the provisions requiring the language proficiency level of taxi drivers and certification thereof will be removed from the Public Transport Act, insofar as the language proficiency requirements in taxi services, as in many other areas of activity, are regulated by the Language Act and a Government of the Republic Regulation adopted on the basis thereof. When the Act enters into force, the Language Inspectorate will continue to exercise supervision over compliance with the language proficiency requirement by taxi drivers.

Member of the Economic Affairs Committee Ken-Marti Vaher said that motions to amend concerning the extension of the deadline concerning the language proficiency requirement had been discussed in the Economic Affairs Committee. The Economic Affairs Committee had decided to stick to the wording of the first reading which omits the language proficiency requirement from the Public Transport Act. According to a motion to amend, the Act will enter into force on the day following publication in the Riigi Teataja.

According to the amendments to the Public Transport Act that entered into force last year, as of 1 April this year, taxi drivers must have an operator’s card for the provision of service, and one requirement for obtaining it is a document certifying proficiency in Estonian at B1 level.

Toomas Kivimägi, Deniss Boroditsh and Urve Palo, who took the floor during the debate, supported the Bill.

Kivimägi said that the universal requirement of language proficiency level for taxi drivers is inexpedient and unjustifiably burdensome. “Under it, all taxi drivers, including thousands of compatriots who speak Estonian as their mother tongue, will have to documentarily certify their proficiency in Estonian at B1 level, which is incomprehensible, not to say insulting,” Kivimägi said.

In Andres Herkel’s opinion, passing of the Bill in such form would be unacceptable. He supported the motion to amend that had been rejected by the Economic Affairs Committee according to which taxi drivers would have been given the right, by way of an exception, not to submit a document certifying proficiency in the language upon application for an operator’s card until 1 April 2019.

Priit Sibul said that the Bill would not change the language proficiency requirements, but the Language Inspectorate would need to find additional funds in order that these requirements could be met in reality.

In his speech, Mihhail Stalnuhhin criticised the quality of Estonian textbooks and dictionaries.

Mart Helme joined the position of the Free Party Faction, that the Bill is deficient and will not solve the problem in a long-term perspective.

Andres Ammas specified that persons who have acquired basic, secondary or higher education in Estonian will not have to certify their proficiency in Estonian. A school certificate will be sufficient to certify language proficiency.

The Free Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill.

The result of voting: 12 members of the Riigikogu in favour and 57 against. Thus the motion was not supported.

The Bill on Amendments to the Maritime Safety Act (128 SE), initiated by the Government, will specify the maritime safety requirements. It will specify the classification of marine casualties, the scope of safety investigation, the relevant cooperation, and the rights and obligations of the investigative body arising from the relevant EU directive. The market surveillance of recreational craft and personal watercraft will also be specified. The main emphasis of the amendments is on the differentiation between an investigation conducted by the Estonian Safety Investigation Bureau (ESIB) and an investigation conducted by the Estonian Maritime Administration, in the case of marine casualties and incidents. The Bill provides for organisation of a safety investigation by the Safety Investigation Bureau always in the case of very serious marine casualties. An investigation of the Maritime Administration will be launched when the incident does not fall within the competence of the Safety Investigation Bureau or when it is not expedient for the Safety Investigation Bureau to conduct a safety investigation. The Maritime Administration will be given the right to investigate, in the event of justified interest, all kinds of accidents with recreational craft if this will help prevent accidents in the future. The Bill will specify the definition of marine casualty: in the future, a person going missing from a ship and an assumed loss of ship will also be deemed to be a marine casualty. The market surveillance competence of the Maritime Administration will be extended to recreational craft and personal watercraft. The abovementioned surveillance competence will be taken away from the Road Administration because they lack the relevant competence and practice.

Two amendments concerning technical norms were made to the Bill during the second reading.

The Riigikogu rejected one Bill:

The Bill on Amendments to the Local Government Council Election Act (167 SE), initiated by the Free Party Faction, that provided for the implementation of the principle of open lists according to which the candidate who receives the largest percentage of votes in the district gets the mandate.

The Chairman of the Constitutional Committee Kalle Laanet said that the Constitutional Committee had found that the reliability of elections should be counted on, and the existing system should be kept and not changed. In the Constitutional Committee, 6 members had been in favour of the rejection of the Bill, one had been against, and there had been one abstention.

Jüri Adams, who took the floor on behalf of the Free Party Faction in the debate, introduced the background of the Bill. Kalev Kotkas who took the floor on behalf of the Social Democratic Party Faction in the debate, said that the Social Democratic Party Faction supported the rejection of the Bill.

The result of voting: 38 in favour, 14 against, and one abstention. Thus the Bill was rejected and was dropped from the proceedings.

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian) 

Photos of the sitting 

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.)

Riigikogu Press Service
Kati Varblane
T: 631 6353, 516 9152
Questions: press@riigikogu.ee