The spouse of Estonian Prime Minister Kae Kallas, Arvo Hallik, owns a minority stake in the transport company Stark Logistics, which, after the start of full-scale Russian aggression, continues to transport goods to the Russian Federation. The ERR portal writes about this in its investigation.
Stark Logistics CEO Kristjan Kraag confirmed to ERR that the company has continued to ship cargo to Russia after February 2022. At the same time, according to Kraag, transportation to the Russian Federation “played an insignificant role in the company’s activities,” and since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, their number has significantly decreased.
“Before the war, it was the norm for us to carry out 60-70 shipments per month to and from Russia. Today, about one or two shipments per week remain from this, and all of them are associated with one client – the Estonian company (aerosol packaging manufacturer) AS Metaprint” , he clarified.
Metaprint and Stark Logistics, as the investigators noted, are linked through Estonian businessman Martti Lemendik, who owns about 50% shares in each of them. Metaprint announced the imminent termination of the plant in Russia. In turn, Kraag assured that in September 2023, Stark Logistics will completely stop transportation to Russia for Metaprint.
The ERR investigation caused a wide resonance in Estonia. The head of state, Alar Karis, said that Kallas is obliged to answer in detail questions about her husband’s company, which was found to have ties with Russia. “The public is waiting for an explanation from the prime minister. And after that, she will probably have to think for herself and talk with her advisers about what the next steps will be,” he said.
Callas herself, in a commentary for Bloomberg, said that she “has no idea about her husband’s business,” and stressed that he has no clients from Russia, and she has “nothing to hide.”
“I remain of the opinion that all trade and business with Russia should cease as long as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues. My husband has a share in a logistics company. He explained that this company is helping one of his Estonian clients stop his production activities in Russia in accordance with the law and sanctions. All further questions will have to be addressed to these companies,” she said.
In December 2022, Kallas said that she “does not consider it right” for the participation of Estonian state-owned companies in the transportation of goods, in particular nickel, from Russia, even if they are not subject to sanctions. In May 2023, in an interview with the Financial Times, she noted that she had to “beg” Estonian companies not to help with “gray” deliveries of sanctioned goods to Russia.