Estonia, the smallest of the Baltic States, has, since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, become a member of the E.U. and NATO and a champion of liberal democracy. So it may come as little surprise that Estonia’s prime minister, Kaja Kallas, knows authoritarianism when she sees it, and is voicing a warning.
Kallas told the Financial Times on 25 June that the COVID War has exposed the urge for authoritarianism, in leaders who get a taste of power and are reluctant to relinquish it, and in people who crave a strong hand telling them what they can and can’t do.
And this is why, she said, some countries that were quick to curtail people’s freedoms in order to control the virus are now slow to restore those freedoms, even as vaccination rates increase and the epidemiological threat recedes. It’s “more convenient” for them to hold onto and continue to exercise that power. Her warning is that hanging onto such authoritarian measures may do lasting harm to democracies.
Estonians suffered in particular under COVID travel restrictions imposed by neighboring Finland, restrictions that Finland eased after Kallas’s FT interview.

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