Russia remains rigid

Eston Kohver

PHOTO: Internet

Thus far, activities by lawyer Yevgeni Aksyonov have not been in the interests of Eston Kohver, says Estonian consul in Moscow Signe Matteus – the only one from Estonia to meet Mr Kohver over these past three months.

Within days, Eston Kohver will have sat three months at Lefortovo prison, and the lawyer says during the time he has never been essentially interrogated. Neither has FSB presented them any evidence regarding the alleged espionage. What do you think the slow tempo points to?

With the entire incident, starting with Mr Kohver kidnapped from Estonian territory, norms of international law have grossly been violated. During the arrest of Mr Kohver, Russia’s own law has not been honoured, wherefore in no aspect may we speak about legitimate arrest or investigation.

Which Russian laws have been violated?

We think all dealings by Russian authorities are illegal, beginning with the unlawful apprehension.  

What to think of the fact that up to now the prison managers have refused to let an Estonian physician inspect Mr Kohver?

Neither Russian foreign ministry nor the prison management have responded to repeated requests by the embassy to ally an Estonian doctor meet with Mr Kohver. By now, it is two months since we filed our initial application for that. This serves to show that the Russian side has no desire essentially to meet half way. We will keep raising the issue in our communications with the Russian side, until the meeting finally takes place.

What’s your assessment to cooperation with lawyer Yevgeni Aksyonov?

Regrettably, numerous claims by Mr Aksyonov have not proved truthful, the information forwarded by him has been contradictory, and he is rather acting from the position of the accusation. Therefore, cooperation with him is complicated.

Do you think the embassy and relevant Estonian agencies have helped and equipped Mr Aksyonov with all he needs for successful defence?

As the activities thus far by Mr Aksyonov have not proven to be in the interests of the one he is supposed to defend, his defence is for us incomprehensible. Estonian agencies, including the embassy, are doing everything that’s needed and possible to alleviate Mr Kohver’s situation, to improve his conditions, and to defend his rights.

How do you read Mr Aksyonov’s defence tactics, what do you think they are about? Do you think this is right?

A lawyer should regularly meet with the person he defends, explaining to him the process underway and stand for his rights and wellbeing. Regrettably, activities by Mr Aksyonov have not been this way.

You’re the only Estonian who, over these three months, has seen and communicated with Mr Kohver. (Consul Matteus has met Mr Kohver six times in Lefortovo prison – J. P.) How has he changed over that time? How is he making it, mentally and physically?

The unnatural environment where Mr Kohver is at may surely affect his mood. At my meetings with Mr Kohver, the human aspect has been very important. For him, tidings from loved ones are definitely of utmost importance, as well as the knowing that Estonian state and our international allies are for him and are actively working towards his return to Estonia.

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