New Estonian minister resigns over alleged domestic violence

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HELSINKI (AP) — An Estonian government minister resigned Tuesday after just a day in the job when authorities launched a domestic violence investigation into him.

Marti Kuusik was sworn in as technology and foreign trade minister on Monday. Hours later, he was placed under investigation by police after the domestic violence allegations emerged in Estonian news reports, Justice Minister Raivo Aeg told Estonian public broadcaster ERR. Kuusik strongly denies the accusations.

Kuusik represents the nationalist Estonian Conservative People’s Party, or EKRE, part of the three-party coalition government led by Prime Minister Juri Ratas who heads the Center Party. Kuusik was among a 15-member Cabinet picked by Ratas, who has been prime minister of the Baltic country since November 2016.

Kuusik tendered his resignation to Ratas and EKRE chairman Mart Helme late Tuesday, saying he wanted to give the new government a chance to start its work peacefully and focus on defending himself in the criminal proceedings.

“Let me again confirm that the accusations made against me are slander. I’m not someone who engages in violence,” Kuusik said, citing a “terrifying media attack” against him by Estonian newspapers and other media outlets.

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Ratas said he was satisfied with Kuusik’s decision to resign saying “there’s no room for justification or suspicions as we know Estonia has thousands of victims of domestic violence.”

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