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Estonian formin told to repay cost of taking influencer with him on India visit

The committee for oversight over the funding of Estonia’s political parties, ERJK, on Thursday discussed the personal advertising of Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna during a visit to India organized by the Foreign Ministry and found that the cost related to the production of the material in question should be repaid, Postimees reported.

In March, the Foreign Ministry included influencer Karl-Gustav Kurn in the minister’s delegation for a visit to India, with the declared aim of reaching out to younger people. Online news site Elu24 has previously reported that the ministry paid the content creator’s air fares, accommodation, and the visa application fee in the total amount of nearly 3,000 euros. The rest of the costs were borne by the content creator himself.

ERJK deputy chair Kaarel Tarand told Postimees that the minister’s PR expenses covered by the ministry must be repaid by the Estonia 200 party, of which Tsahkna is chairman, but the exact amount is still being determined. He said the committee voted on whether the entire sum or a part of it must be repaid, as there is undoubtedly a significant amount of official activity reflected in the material created by the content creator.

Tarand added that it is unlikely that the entire amount will be claimed from the party and that they have official information only about the content creator’s travel expenses.

“We have two main grounds for action: forbidden donations and the use of public funds for campaigning. In the present case, despite the explanations given by the Foreign Ministry, the committee, by a majority vote, found that what was done, what was written in the authorization agreement, and what was received in the form of the material produced, which was supposed to help introduce foreign policy to young people, contained a considerable amount of personality promotion and did not reflect official activities,” Tarand said.

“Content creators are a relatively new phenomenon in our society and our legislation has yet to catch up. We expect journalists to adhere to the code of journalistic ethics, independence. In social media, it’s all unregulated and there’s no editorial board with rules,” he added.

Tsahkna said at Thursday’s government press briefing that he learned of the ERJK’s decision from the journalist and needed to familiarize himself with it.

Source: BNS

(Reproduction of BNS information in mass media and other websites without written consent of BNS is prohibited.)

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