Prosecutor's office sends Seredenko case to court

Sergei Seredenko in the ETV+ studios.
Sergei Seredenko in the ETV+ studios. Source: ERR

The prosecutor's office has sent a criminal case involving a man charged with espionage activity on behalf of the Russian Federation to court.

The suspect, Sergei Seredenko, had reportedly been working as a janitor at a school in Maardu, east of Tallinn. He has also been active in politics and public events, including on May 9, Victory Day.

He has been in custody since March and is charged with activity detrimental to the security of the Republic of Estonia, ERR's Russian-language portal reports.

ERR learned that the state prosecutor filed a criminal case with the courts on August 18.

Seredenko, 57, an Estonian citizen, says he also plans to run as an independent candidate in Maardu at October's local elections.

Seredenko's lawyer, Vladimir Sadekov said that: "So far as I know, he has already sent his declaration to the electoral commission," adding that his client is not in good health and has been incarcerated for six months now, though maintains his innocence.

The preliminary court hearing also takes place in October. The prosecutor's office says it finds the charges against him reasonable, though has not disclosed their details.

Prosecutor's office spokesperson Kairi Küngas stated the charges concern maintaining relations detrimental to the Republic of Estonia.

The Maardu branch of the electoral committee confirmed the receipt of Seredenko's application to run in the local elections on October 17, adding that it has not been accepted for processing, on legal technicalities.

Seredenko ran in the last local elections, in 2017, in the same constituency, receiving just 20 votes, insufficient to get a seat. He ran for the United Left Party (Ühendatud Vasakpartei) at that time, and has applied to run as an independent this time around.

Director General of the Internal Security Service (ISS) Arnold Sinisalu told ERR that Seredenko had been initially detained as a result of contacts he had made with secret services in the Russian Federation.

Seredenko is also an activist with the non-profit Immortal Regiment (Bessmertny Polk) organization, whose activities include a public gathering marking the end of World War Two, which in Russia is celebrated as Victory Day, on May 9.

Seredenko had been listed on Maardu high school's website as working as a janitor there, though news portal Delfi had reported (link in Estonian) he worked as a lawyer.

In 2019 he was reportedly involved in an anti-NATO television broadcast for a Russian channel, filmed in the eastern Estonian town of Narva.

He has been charged under Article 235 of the Penal Code, which refers to maintaining a relationship with a foreign state, a foreign organization or a person acting on behalf of a foreign state and which may be punishable by up to six years' imprisonment for the purpose of committing an offense, the prosecutor's office said in spring.

According to the electoral committee website: "A person who has been convicted of a crime and is serving sentence in a penal institution, cannot stand as candidate [at any election]."


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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