EU urges Russia to free ‘immediately’ jailed Estonian policeman
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini urged Russia to free an Estonian policeman it sentenced Wednesday to 15 years’ jail on espionage charges, denouncing his “abduction” as a breach of international law.
Russian prosecutors said Eston Kohver was detained on Russian territory as he carried out an undercover operation last September but Tallinn said Moscow’s FSB security service kidnapped him at gunpoint on Estonian territory as he was investigating cross-border crime.
“The EU continues to call on the Russian Federation to act according to its international obligations, release Mr. Kohver immediately and guarantee his safe return to Estonia,” Mogherini said in a statement.
“Mr Kohver’s abduction and subsequent illegal detention in Russia constitute a clear violation of international law,” the statement said.
She added that “Kohver has been deprived of the right to a fair trial” from the start as there was no public hearing, he was “deprived of adequate legal aid” and the Estonian consul was not allowed to be present during proceedings.
A court in Russia’s western Pskov region, which borders EU- and NATO-member Estonia, sentenced Kohver to 15 years in jail on charges of spying, weapon possession and illegally crossing the border, his court-appointed lawyer, Yevgeny Aksyonov, told AFP.
Tensions between Russia and the ex-Soviet Baltic states have soared over Russia’s seizure of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula and alleged backing of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Many in Estonia believe Kohver’s arrest was timed deliberately.
It came just two days after US President Barack Obama visited Tallinn to trumpet Baltic security following Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis.