Russian authorities keep Kohver in Pskov
Kidnapped Estonian security official Eston Kohver was due to be taken back to Moscow, but has remained in a prison in the border area of Pskov, where conditions are said to be much worse.
The court case began in Pskov, where Kohver was allegedly caught last September, but the court found mistakes in the charges and sent the case back to Moscow, Eesti Päevaleht reported.
Kohver's lawyer Yevgeni Askyonov said that Kohver will be taken back to Moscow, where the investigation will be continued. He said the court will rule on July 22, although Estonian authorities have said Askyonov is part of the Russian legal system and should not be taken at face value. Other sources have said the trial will only continue in August.
The Estonian consul in Pskov met with Kohver on Thursday, bringing him food and news about Estonia.
Kohver is accused by Russians in smuggling, espionage, and illegal border crossing. Last Tuesday, the prosecution also came up with a new charge – illegal arms bearing, which could in theory add 3 years to the sentence. The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) had previously reported that at the time of Kohver's detention, he had a handgun, 5,000 rubles in cash, special audio recording equipment and other “spyware”.
Kohver was kidnapped from the Estonian-Russian border by Russian special forces on September 5 last year and held at the notorious Lefortovo prison in Moscow since. Estonian authorities have always maintained that Kohver was in the line of duty and collecting information on cross-border corruption within the framework of an information collection plan in the vicinity of the Estonian-Russian border, when he was abducted. Estonia has also insisted that Kohver's abduction violates international law.
According to Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, Russia has been violating international law for nearly nine months by having abducted and by illegally detaining Kohver. "The illegal detention and holding of apparent court proceedings of Kohver, who was abducted from Estonian territory by the FSB, have not had any connection to a fair court proceeding from the very start. Estonian authorities are doing everything in their power to have Kohver released so that he can return home,” the minister stressed.