As sanctions are imposed on Russia, Estonia is working together with the Pension Fund of the Russian Federation (PFR) to figure out how to pay out pensions to recipients living in each other's country.
"Right now we're seeking solutions for whether it's possible to make payments as provided for on our agreement," Leili Eenlo, head of cross-border social insurance at the Ministry of Social Affairs, told ERR on Monday. "We're cooperating with the Pension Fund of the Russian Federation in this regard."
Eenlo explained that a pension insurance cooperation agreement has been concluded between Estonia and Russia which regulates the mutual disbursement of pensions. Payments between the two countries' relevant authorities are made on a quarterly basis: Estonia's Social Insurance Board (SKA) pays out pensions for recipients of Estonian pensions living in Russia by paying the PFR a lump sum accompanied by a list of names and amounts owed. The PFR does the same in reverse.
The ministry representative confirmed that there were no issues with its first quarter payment, and that all payments went through. The second quarter payment is due at the end of May, however.
"It is the second quarter payment that is in question," she said. "It is only possible to send money from Russia to Estonia via those banks that have not had sanctions imposed on them by the EU and the U.S. Banks operating in Estonia can only execute transactions with those Russian banks that don't have sanctions imposed on them."
She did not specify whether current sanctions will hinder existing payment schemes.
Asked whether the need could arise for the Estonian state to start taking care of Russian pension recipients if PFR payments can't reach Estonia due to sanctions, Eenlo said that all residents of Estonia have the right to subsistence benefits.
"This all depends on what these people's other sources of income are," she explained. "Many of them have worked in Estonia as well, and thus have a right to an Estonian pension as well. If they nonetheless don't have enough funds to get by, all Estonian residents who need help have equal rights to subsistence benefits."
Russian military pensioners are not covered under Estonia and Russia's bilateral pension agreement; their military pensions are paid directly to their bank accounts under a separate bilateral agreement, and no money or recipient information passes through SKA.
Russian daily Kommersant reported over the weekend that Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin had established provisions according to which Russian citizens living abroad can receive their pensions via ruble accounts opened at Russian banks.
Editor: Aili Vahtla