On May 17, during the program, КУКЛЬ НАСЛЕДНИКА ТУТТИ of the Channel One of Russia, the topic of conversation was the ancestry of the Prime Minister of Estonia, Kaja Kallas. One of the guests on the program said that Kallas’ grandfather, on her mother’s side, served in the Estonian Defense Forces, which helped Hitler’s supporters exterminate Jews and others in concentration camps. According to the guest, because of this fact, Kallas’ grandfather was imprisoned for five years, while her mother and grandmother, who were exiled from Estonia for five years, were subject to repressions for the same reason.
The claim that Kaja Kallas’ maternal grandfather collaborated with the Nazis, for which he and his family were deported, is false. In fact, the photo shown on the program depicts the grandfather of Kallas’ father, Siim Kallas. He served as the head of the Defense League in the Estonian War of Independence and died in 1939, 2 years before the Nazi occupation. Kallas’ mother was deported to Siberia along with 20,000 Estonians during the dekulakization campaign in 1949, where she spent almost ten years.
The program of Channel One showed a photo, which, according to the guest, depicted Kaja Kallas’ maternal grandfather. In fact, the photo does not show Kalas’ maternal grandfather, but Eduard Alver, the grandfather of her father. This photo can also be found on the website of the Estonian Photographic Heritage Society, where the identity of the person depicted in the photo is indicated – the commander of the Union of Defense in the War of Independence, Eduard Alver.
Eduard Alver was a famous lawyer and held various positions in Estonia at different times, including leading the Estonian Defense League during the Estonian War of Independence with the Soviet Union in 1918-1920. A book about Alver’s life was published by his grandson, the former Prime Minister of Estonia and the father of the current Prime Minister, Siim Kalkas, entitled “Eduard Alver: His Time and People.”
In the 1930s, Alver headed the film studio Eesti Kultuurfilm and the board of directors of the National Exhibition Fund. He died on August 15, 1939. During this period, Estonia maintained its independence. Estonia’s independence, on the basis of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, a secret agreement signed between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, ended with the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1940. After that, in 1941, the Nazi forces invaded the territory of Estonia. Considering these facts, the accusation that Alver collaborated with the Nazis, participated in the killing of Jews in the concentration camp, and was imprisoned for five years for this, is false.
Estonian collaborationists were indeed tried for collaboration with the Nazis and crimes against humanity in concentration camps, although they did not represent the Estonian Defense League, which was liquidated by order of 1940, but Omakaitse (Home Guard), which was active in 1917-18 and 1941-44. Some of the fighters of the liquidated Defense League joined the Forest Brothers and continued to fight against the Soviet Union, some joined Omakaitse. After gaining independence in 1991, Estonia began investigating crimes against humanity committed during the Nazi and Soviet occupations. The investigation found that of Omakaitse’s 30 to 40,000 members, approximately 1,000 to 1,200 people were directly involved in crimes, including the transportation and killing of Jews to concentration camps.
Estonian collaborationists were tried for war crimes by the Soviet Union in 1961, including the military and the head of the Sicherheitspolizei (Security Police) formed in 1942, Ain-Ervin Mere, and members of the police. Some of them were sentenced to death.
As for Kaja Kallas’ mother, the Soviet authorities, in fact, deported her to Siberia. The Prime Minister of Estonia has spoke about this a number of times. Kallas’ mother and grandmother were deported along with 20,000 Estonians in March 1949. Operation “Прибой” was part of the dekulakization campaign, and within its framework, up to 90,000 persons from the Baltic republics, were labelled as “enemies of the people” and deported. Kallas’ mother was only six months old then. She spent not five but almost ten years in exile.
Who disseminates disinformation about the Prime Minister of Estonia?
The person who has disseminated disinformation about Kaja Kallas’s grandfather is Alexey Esakov. He was the leader of the “Immortal Regiment” operating in Estonia and has been actively amplifying Kremlin propaganda. Because of this, he was deported from Estonia on May 4, 2022. According to the Estonian police, together with spreading Kremlin propaganda and hate speech, Esakov justified Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and participated in illegal trade in Eastern Ukraine. The program showed photos of Esakov posing with Soviet symbols next to the Bronze Soldier monument, a World War II memorial that Russia and pro-Russian actors have used for years to incite unrest in Estonia.
Esakov is not the first person to make such a false accusation against Kallas’ ancestors. Eduard Alver was accused of collaborating with the Nazis in 2022 by the spokeswoman of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maria Zakharova. According to Zakharova, Alver was the head of Omakaitse, which is not true. Then, due to Zakharova’s statements, the Russian ambassador was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not comment on the details of the meeting with the Russian ambassador; however, Russian representatives were urged to refrain from non-diplomatic personal attacks, call for politeness, study history more carefully and immediately stop aggression against Ukraine.
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