Estonia Votes Amid Russia Fears

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Polling has ended and counting is under way in Estonia, in an election overshadowed by security concerns sparked by Russia’s role in Ukraine.

The Centre Party, which has ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin, is expected to do well.

But it is seen as a pariah by other parties, who are likely to band together to renew the current governing coalition.

Estonia was once part of the former Soviet Union but is now a Nato member.

Voting for the 101-seat parliament ended at 18:00 GMT and a result is expected later in the evening.

‘Estonian-minded’

Prime Minister Taavi Roivas has voiced concerns that Russia could seek to destabilise other former Soviet states – a view echoed last month by UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon.

Mr Roivas has called for an “Estonian-minded government”. At 35, he is the youngest prime minister in Europe.

One voter, Pyotr Sirotkin, told Agence France-Presse in the capital, Tallinn: “If [the Russians] come in here, Estonia can’t do anything… I’m not sure Nato will help us out, Let’s hope that it will not go that far.”

Estonia has seen a number of airspace violations by Russia, and last year a security official was detained by Russia and accused of spying.

The Centre Party leader, Edgar Saavisar, favours a friendlier approach to Moscow, and has suggested that Russia’s annexation of Crimea could be legitimate.

About a quarter of Estonia’s 1.3m population are ethnic Russians, many of whom are Centre Party supporters.

The country is a pioneer of electronic voting, with a reported one in five casting their vote online.

Overall, some 42% of the one million-strong electorate had cast ballots by noon.

Source: BBC

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