Su, 1.10.2023

Aivo Peterson charged with treason

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Aivo Peterson, leader of the newly established Koos (Together) party.
Aivo Peterson, leader of the newly established Koos (Together) party. Photo: Raul Mee

The Estonian Public Prosecutor's Office has filed a criminal case in court, accusing Aivo Peterson, leader of the Koos (Together) political party established in May, and Dmitri Roots of treason, and Russian citizen Andrei Andronov of non-violent activities against Estonia.

According to the charges, from October 2022 to March 10, 2023, Peterson and Roots deliberately and systematically assisted Russia and individuals acting on behalf of Russian authorities in non-violent activities against the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Estonia, following instructions received from Russia.

The indictment alleges that the accused were actively involved in influence operations aimed at establishing a political organization in Estonia that supports Russia's foreign and security policy narratives and propaganda messages. This organization was intended to provide Russia with the opportunity to jeopardize Estonia's constitutional order, interfere in its domestic politics, and influence foreign policy.

Peterson is also accused of assisting Andronov in non-violent activities directed against the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Estonia.

Public prosecutor Triinu Olev said that Peterson and Andronov deliberately participated in Russia's information influence activities, which included disseminating narratives supporting Russia's security policies and propaganda messages on social media as well as in Russian state media.

«The accused knowingly assisted Russia in such a way that their activities were directed against Estonian society and state. The threat to Estonia's security, sovereignty, and territorial integrity requires decisive intervention by the state. Recent events vividly demonstrate that Russia is doing everything possible to weaken and divide its neighboring countries,» Olev said.

Following their arrest, suspicions were brought against Peterson, Roots and Andronov of establishing a relationship antagonistic to the Republic of Estonia. Based on legal precedents and the evidence collected during the investigation, the Public Prosecutor's Office decided to charge Peterson and Roots with treason and Andronov with non-violent activities against Estonia. The accused have been placed into custody.

Treason is punishable by six to 20 years' imprisonment or life imprisonment. Engagement by an alien in non-violent activities directed against Estonia is punishable by two to 15 years' imprisonment.

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