Sa, 2.12.2023

Raivo Susi offered $100,000 but remains in custody

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Photo: Jaanus Piirsalu

Yesterday, Estonian aviation businessman Raivo Susi charged with espionage in Russia offered Moscow city court $100,000 to be released from custody but the court rejected the offer. 

Mr Susi was arrested by FSB on February 10th in Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow. The next day, court gave permission to detain him for two months. Lawyer for Mr Susi, Arkadi Tolpegin contested the detainment and this is what the Moscow city court was deliberating yesterday.

Pursuant to espionage clause and state secret, the session was closed to public. Not limited to that, the doors to the courtroom were locked. Also, court information board lacked a notice regarding the appeal by Mr Susi being deliberated. Mr Susi who turned 52 three days ago was not brought to court at all – he gave video statements from Lefortovo prison.

Due to the classified status if the case, the lawyer Mr Tolpegin was unable to comment what was discussed at the session, nor the reason the court rejected the appeal to be released on bail. Before the session, the lawyer told Postimees he was planning to offer the judge two options: either release Mr Susi against bail or place him in house arrest. Naturally, Mr Susi has no apartment in Moscow but the lawyer said his family and business partners assured the court of willingness to rent him an apartment for the time of the house arrest.

After the session that went for an hour, the lawyer said Mr Susi offered a bail «equal to 100,000 [US] dollars». That’ll be seven million roubles or €90,000.  

The lawyer handed the judge a letter of support by several business partners of Mr Susi in Estonia and Russia. Of these, the most remarkable was doubtless the letter of support by director of Vyazma aviation training centre operating at DOSAAF (Russian: ДОСААФ), the Volunteer Society for Cooperation with the Army, Aviation, and Fleet. Under this very centre, there operates the piloting group Russ – among the three best-known in Russia – which has been assisted by Mr Susi’s companies both technically and with administration.

Mr Susi categorically denies any espionage. Regarding the facts and caused for his arrest, very little is presently known. To the knowledge of Postimees, on the day of his arrest Mr Susi was on his way from Tallinn to a Central-Asian republic. He was supposed to change planes in Moscow and was held in Sheremetyevo transit zone. After arrest, he was granted to make one phone call in which he phoned his wife briefly telling her he had been arrested by FSB.

Mr Susi is being accused in acts amounting to espionage which, according to his lawyer, date back to 2004–2007. Remarkably, the criminal case was only opened at the beginning of this year. To the knowledge of the lawyer, no-one else has been charged in this espionage case.

The lawyer Mr Tolpegin has under signature to FSB to not disclose the content of the charges. Therefore, he was unable to say who FSB says he was spying for.

To the assumption by Postimees that the natural conclusion would be for Estonia, the lawyer replied: «I cannot comment that, but I agree that there are no other variants really.»

Regarding the mood of Raivo Susi, the lawyer said the man is generally able to keep cool while oppressed by the unknown about his future. «But otherwise he is managing really well,» said Mr Tolpegin.

On above picture taken before the courtroom doors were closed, Raivo Susi appears on the screen.



American held after photographing military planes

In mid-March, near Moscow, at Chkalovsky military airfield, Russian intelligence detained a US citizen Filmer Paul Bryan who was taking pictures of the airplanes on the airfield. Mr Bryan held a radio scanner tuned to the frequency of the airports air traffic control, said RIA Novosti.