Russian court in Pskov sentenced Eston Kohver to 15 years of imprisonment. Kohver is an officer of the Estonian Special Forces, who was kidnapped straight from the territory of Estonia. The opinion-makers recall the fact that the event of kidnapping constituted one of the most serious breaches of the international law committed by Moscow in the recent years. This is due to the fact that territorial integrity of a NATO member state has been violated, as a result of the incident.
Eston Kohver was accused of spying, illegal possession of weapons, border trespassing and smuggling – according to RIA Novosti. Besides 15 years in prison, he is required to pay a penalty of ca. USD 1500.
The sentence was already condemned by the Estonian PM, Taavi Roivas who recalled the fact that Kohver was kidnapped from the Estonian territory on 5th September 2014, by the officers of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, referred to the kidnapping as a “clear violation of the international law”.
The official announcement recalled the fact that from the very beginning, Kohver had no right to a fair trial. Russia was asked to act in line with the international commitments and to release the officer. Moscow was to “guarantee” that he could be safely returned to Estonia. A statement condemning the judgement was also issued by the authorities of Great Britain.
The opinion-makers recall the fact that the event of kidnapping constituted one of the most serious breaches of the international law committed by Moscow in the recent years. The kidnapping violated the territorial integrity of a NATO member state. Execution of similar operations by Russia may lead to uncontrolled escalation of a potential crisis. The circumstances related to Kohver – including the use of the communications-jamming equipment – show that the operation was executed by a well-prepared unit.
It is worth to mention that the Russian border guards signed a report, made together with their Estonian counterparts, confirming that the border crossed illegally both ways between the two states. Representatives of the Russian border patrol probably had no knowledge of operation, probably they even thought that the event was related to some criminal activities. The above circumstances show that the kidnapping was prepared by the top authorities.
The kidnapping event took place when NATO adopted the provisions of the Newport Summit, assuming that defensive capabilities of the alliance would be enhanced. Thus, the event is interpreted as a Russian show of force, targeted against the Mid-Eastern European NATO member states – being a form of intimidation. In September last year it was said that Kohver was one of the most effective officers of the Estonian Internal Security Service (Estonian: Kaitsepolitsei, officially Estonian: Kaitsepolitseiamet, KaPo for short), dealing with Russia and acting against the Russian agents. He was also actively involved in counter-terrorism operations.