Center MP uses state allowance to pay apartment rental costs

Siret Kotka, deputy chair of the Social Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu and a member of the Center Party, who owns several apartments in Tallinn, lives in a rented flat and collects her housing allowance from the Chancellery of the Riigikogu.

The tip-off came at the same time as a scheme by Kotka's ex-husband, Martin Repinski,  who is also a member of the Riigikogu representing the Center Party, came to light, writes Eesti Ekspress.

According to both the law, and the Riigikogu's own procedural rules, members living outside Tallinn and the municipalities of Harku, Jõelähtme, Kiili, Rae, Saku, Saue and Viimsi are entitled to receive housing allowance.

Officially living in Väike-Maarja in Lääne-Viru County, Kotka's salary rose to €5,477 in April this year.

However, as a full member of the Riigikogu, Kotka is also entitled, upon application, to receive up to a fifth of her salary each month to cover housing costs. The Chancellery of the Riigikogu has no right to refuse to reimburse housing costs, even if a member owns several apartments in the capital.

Kotka justifies living in rented apartments instead of one of those she owns, on security grounds, namely that she wanted to avoid a harasser. However, according to Eesti Ekspress, Kotka was living at the taxpayer's expense long before the harassment case in question began, in spring 2020. "I bought these apartments with a bank loan, I pay the bank loan every month. I am a single mother," said Kotka.

Kotka also said that she had not received any rental income as a private person. However, she refused to provide a direct answer when questioned about apartments in the Lasnamäe district, which she purchased using a bank loan.

Andres Kalvik, media adviser to the Center Parliamentary Group, said, that  Kotka was an entrepreneur, and that there was nothing wrong with using the state allowance to cover housing costs, even of the properties were being rented out for business purposes.

Read the article at ERR.