Estonia's pro-Russia Center Party picks a new leader

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) " Estonia's second largest political party, which is popular among the Baltic country's sizeable ethnic Russian minority, has chosen a new leader.

Juri Ratas will replace Edgar Savisaar, who founded the opposition Center Party 25 years ago.

Party delegates elected Ratas, a 38-year-old former Tallinn mayor and deputy speaker of Parliament, in a 654-348 vote Saturday, after Savisaar announced he was stepping down following internal opposition.

Savisaar created the party in 1991 when Estonia became independent from Soviet rule. The 66-year-old former prime minister kept close ties with Moscow, making his party a pariah in Estonian politics but popular among ethnic Russians, who make up a quarter of Estonia's 1.3 million people.

Last year the Center Party got 24.8 percent of the vote but it's not part of Estonia's three-party coalition government.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 12 Dec 2016 04:05:31 Processing Time: 482ms