Country Report Lithuania
- ID: 2138679
- August 2015
- Region: Lithuania
- 25 Pages
- The Economist Intelligence Unit
On August 19th a Russian court in the north-western city of Pskov sentenced Eston Kohver, an officer in the Estonian Internal Security Service, to 15 years imprisonment and a fine of Rb100,000 (US$1,400). He was found guilty of espionage, trafficking firearms and illegally crossing the border. Estonia and other EU and NATO members have strongly criticised the ruling and called for Mr Kohver's release.
Mr Kohver was detained by Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officials in September 2014. The circumstances of his arrest are disputed. Russian officials claim that he was arrested on the Russian side of the Estonian-Russian border with cash, a pistol and a recording device. They imply that he was involved in a covert operation. In contrast, Estonian officials state that Mr Kohver was abducted from Estonian territory in a planned clandestine Russian operation involving radio communication interference and smoke bombs.
The sentencing marks a new low in Estonian-Russian relations, which have been frosty since Russia's annexation of Crimea in the first part of 2014, and provoked a strong reaction from Estonian officials and other NATO and EU member states. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg have called on Russia to release Mr Kohver immediately.