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Estonia's President Isn't Too Worried About Russia Digging Up Dirt On Her

“Don’t believe if somebody tells you I’ve been dancing during the night in the bar half-naked,” President Kersti Kaljulaid told BuzzFeed News’ Profile.

Posted on September 30, 2018, at 8:01 p.m. ET

Estonia’s first woman president, Kersti Kaljulaid, says Russia’s unpredictability worries her as she believes Moscow is acting in a manner that is dangerous to international peace and security.

“It’s an unpredictable country acting in unpredictable ways. So we should always be thinking of [the] unthinkable,” she told host David Mack on Profile, BuzzFeed News’ Facebook Watch show. “It’s unpredictability which is worrying me.”

Citing the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the UK and extensive reports of Russia’s election interference as examples of the nation’s hostility, Kaljulaid said, “This is not the way a friend acts.”

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As to what may be motivating Moscow’s actions, Kaljulaid could only say, “Beats me. I don’t know what it is.”

Asked if she worried that Russian spies might try to find compromising information on her personally, the Baltic leader joked that her life is both “straightforward” and “boring,” saying that she is a mother of four children and a grandmother of two.

“Don’t believe if somebody tells you I’ve been dancing during the night in the bar half-naked,” she said with a smile.

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Estonia’s parliament elected Kaljulaid to the role of president in 2016. She was previously a member of the European Court of Auditors, and before that held various leadership roles in the private sector.

The Estonian president is a figurehead, but has the power to veto legislation and is the leader of the armed forces.

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On the heels of her appearance at the UN General Assembly last week, Kaljulaid declined to comment on the laughter President Donald Trump received from diplomats during his speech, claiming she has not seen the moment.

She told Profile she saw eye-to-eye with the American president on one point, however: “President Trump put strong emphasis on the right of every country to decide for themselves,” she said. This, by the way, is something with which I totally agree.”

The two world leaders met in April when Kaljulaid traveled to Washington, DC, for her first visit to the White House.

She characterized her meeting with Trump as productive. “Personally, I had to maybe return to my years when I was working in the private sector in investment banking — and explain issues more through the cost-benefit prism,” she told Profile.

Kaljulaid said she was satisfied with Trump’s commitment to Estonia. “President Trump said he has never let us down, and he will never let us down,” she said.

Happy to meet president Trump @POTUS on my first visit to @WhiteHouse. US-Estonian relations have never been as close as over the past few years. https://t.co/unVy38rDa2

Trump’s former adviser, Steve Bannon, has been credited with boosting far-right political groups in Europe. Asked if Bannon’s ideas would be welcome in her country, she downplayed his clout.

“Frankly speaking, I don’t think one person can ever influence too much of our political thinking — in any country,” the president responded.

The Baltic nation’s first woman president has spoken in the past about facing workplace discrimination because of her gender.

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On Profile, she said she had previously been confused as a translator during her time as a diplomat at the European Court of Auditors.

“It’s not serious. I mean, not harassment. Nothing like this, but this happens every day, of course,” she said.

While she said she hasn’t been disrespected as president because of her gender, she believes most women endure such sexism in the mid-level of their careers.

“It’s not glass ceilings — it’s broken glass lying everywhere you can’t step on,” she said. “These simple, kind of everyday situations.”


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