The Real Identity of the Person Presented as the “Surveillance Chief” and the Son of the Estonian President

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Reading Time: 3 minutes


Update: On August 11th, the government of Estonia decided to suspend issuing Estonian visas to Russian tourists. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, Urmas Reinsalu, stressed that in the recent period, Russian citizens have been passing through Estonia or coming to the territory of Estonia en masse, which was not in line with the purpose of the sanctions imposed on Russia by Europe. The new regulations will come into effect on August 18th. In parallel with the decision of the Estonian president, old photo manipulation related to the former Estonian president was actively disseminated on social networks.

On August 10-11th, Russian-language Facebook accounts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 ) published a photo with the following description: “Estonian president and her precious son, you decide who is who.”

The same photo was circulated in Georgia in 2020 when Sandro Bregadze, one of the leaders of the far-right “Georgian March,” published the photo on his personal Facebook account with the description: “Estonia’s idiot president and the homosexual head of the intelligence agency (on the right) – the Georgian March is a destructive force – when they say this, only then I feel that we are the mightiest!!!”

Pro-Kremlin media “News-Front Georgia” has also published Bregadze’s post on its website.

The picture disseminated on social media is photo manipulation. The mentioned photo depicts neither the son of the former president of Estonia nor the head of intelligence, but the Estonian writer, translator and cultural critic Mikk Pärnits. The head of Estonia’s foreign intelligence service is Mikk Marran.

Tracing the Origin of the Photo

The above-mentioned photo was taken at an event held on August 18th, 2020, where eight people received the “Violence Prevention Award”. One of the eight awardees is the Estonian writer, translator and culture critic Mikk Pärnits. Notably, the head of the Estonian foreign intelligence service Mikk Marran is not depicted in the photo.

The photo features the former President of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid (in the centre), (she was succeeded by Alar Karis on October 11th, 2021) and the former Minister of Justice of Estonia, Raivo Aegi. It was Aegi who conferred the award to Pärnits. Later, he removed Pärnits’ name from the list of awardees. As Aegi wrote on the official Facebook page, the reason for the removal was Pärnits’ attire and the speech they gave at the award ceremony. Pärnits noted during the ceremony that a traditional family is the most dangerous place for a child.

Notably, Sandro Bregadze, one of the leaders of the Georgian March, shared the photo with a homophobic context after the “Georgian March” was featured in the 2020 report of the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service. The report defined the Georgian March as an aggressive movement that does not shy away from physical confrontation with opponents. The document also emphasizes that among the leaders of the “Georgian March” there are several people who have connections with Russia and its mechanisms of influence.

As for the former president of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid, she has 4 children. Two of them, Silja Märdla and Siim Talvik, from her first marriage with Talvik and two sons, Kaspar and Georg, from his second marriage with his current spouse Georgi-Rene Maksimovski.

The article has been written in the framework of Facebook’s fact-checking program. You can read more about the restrictions that Facebook may impose based on this article via this link. You can find information about appealing or editing our assessment via this link.

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Country: Estonia

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