Estonian formin: Kohver trial in Russia cannot be taken seriously

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The trial of the Estonian Internal Security Service staffer Eston Kohver that started in the Pskov regional court in Russia on Monday cannot be taken seriously, Estonian Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus says.

«The abduction of Eston Kohver was from the very first followed by deliberate attempts to create a lot of confusing noise whereby Russia seeks to blur what really happened on Sept. 5 last year,» the foreign minister said. «The Estonian security official was deprived of his liberty by force on the territory of the Republic of Estonia by [Russian security service] FSB and he continues to be unlawfully held in Russia. This is a serious violation of international law which is inadmissible.»

Estonia will continue to use all diplomatic avenues available to maintain pressure regarding the Kohver case at the international level as well as in bilateral relations, the foreign minister stated.

The trial of Kohver on charges of espionage, illegal border crossing, illegal arms bearing and smuggling started at the Pskov courthouse behind closed doors at 10 a.m. Monday. The presiding judge is Larisa Bobrova and the Russia-appointed defense attorney Yevgeni Aksyonov continues to represent the Estonian security official.

The Internal Security Service said on Sept. 5, 2014 that a member of their staff had been deprived of his freedom on Estonian territory near the checkpoint of Luhamaa on the Estonian-Russian border and taken to Russia by unidentified individuals coming from Russia at 9 a.m. that morning. The official, who was performing official duties related to the prevention of cross-border crime, was taken to Russia at gunpoint using physical force. The abduction was preceded by interference of operational radio communication and use of a smoke grenade from the direction of Russia.

Kohver was held in the Lefortovo prison of Moscow until his transfer to Pskov for the trial.