Russian citizens sentenced to prison for smuggling Vietnamese into Estonia ({{commentsTotal}})

Signs marking the temporary border line between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Estonia in a forested area in Võru County. Source: (Margus Ansu/Postimees/Scanpix)

Tartu County Court sentenced two citizens of the Russian Federation to prison who had been caught smuggling citizens of Vietnam into Estonia last fall.

The court found two Russian citizens, Aleksei Kulvitš, 43, and Inna Purge, 32, guilty of human trafficking, of illegally crossing the temporary border line of the Republic of Estonia, and of illegally delivering foreign nationals across the temporary border line of the Republic of Estonia.

On September 21, 2015, members of the South Prefecture of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) detained Kulvitš, Purge, and four Vietnamese citizens near Pruntova village in Võru County’s Misso Parish in Southeast Estonia, all of whom had illegally crossed the temporary border line of the Republic of Estonia.

According to charges filed against them, the Vietnamese citizens had illegally crossed the temporary border line and were to be handed off to the next participants in this international human trafficking chain, who would then transport them further into the EU.

According to the charges, Kulvitš and Purge transported the four Vietnamese citizens in their vehicle into the vicinity of the temporary border line between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Estonia near Pechory, Pskov Oblast, thereafter directing the Vietnamese through the forest and across the temporary border line into Estonia.

The charges also noted that as communication between the involved parties relied primarily on the use of hand gestures and a few select words in English, the Vietnamese citizens did not really have the opportunity to opt out of following their guides.

The court sentenced Kulvitš and Purge each to four years in prison, ten months of which were to be served immediately, and the remainder of which is to be a conditional sentence, Tartu Courts’ spokeswoman Krista Tamm told The sentence will be considered to have begun to be served with their capture on September 21 last year.

In addition, Kulvitš and Purge will be expelled from the Republic of Estonia and given three-year prohibitions on entry.

The two will also be required to pay related procedure expenses of 2,240€ and 1,640€ respectively.

The criminal case was investigated by the PPA’s South Prefecture, and subsequent legal proceedings were conducted by the South District Prosecutor’s Office.

Editor: Editor: Aili Sarapik

Kallas, Kasemets, Maasikas: EU is strong, no upside to losing the euro

Speaking on Vikerraadio's "Reporteritund" ahead of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, Siim Kallas, Keit Kasemets and Matti Maasikas agreed that despite its prblems, the EU remained strong as a union.

Opinion digest: How can Estonia shed its reputation as a frontline state?

In a recent opinion piece in Postimees, Propastop, a blog maintained by Estonian Defence Forces volunteers, listed suggestions on how Estonia could shed its international reputation as a frontline state.