The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Western criticism against Russia after Estonian official Eston Kohver was sentenced to 15 years in prison in Russia for alleged espionage crimes, are an attempt to politicize the trial.
“Moscow is surprised by the reaction of its partners concerning the decision of the Pskov Oblast court on the case of Estonian citizen E. Kohver, who was found guilty under the penal laws of the Russian Federation after an extensive investigation,” Maria Zakharova, a spokesman for the ministry, said in a press release on Thursday.
She said the trial was in accord with all Russian laws, international norms and with the rights of the Estonian citizen.
“We have no other way to describe the loud opinions as anything but attempts to politicize the criminal case in question, the legality and reasoning of which are under no doubt,” Zakharova said.
Estonia maintains Kohver was in Estonia at the time of his capture and was taken to Russia by force. He was sentenced to 15 years for espionage and other charges on August 19, one day before Estonia celebrated the 24th anniversary of re-independence from the Soviet Union. Kohver has been held in Russia since the beginning of September.
Wednesday's verdict prompted many EU officials and politicians to condemn Russia. Among those to criticize Russia were government ministers of Latvia, Lithuania, Finland and the United Kingdom, as well as Federica Mogherini, the EU's foreign policy chief, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The US and Ukrainian foreign ministries also demanded the immediate release of Kohver.
Editor: J.M. Laats