MP Eerik-Niiles Kross (Reform) has voiced his suspicion that the Estonian state-owned rail cargo operator EVR Cargo is violating sanctions against Russia by using freight cars manufactured by Russian rolling stock manufacturer Uralvagonzavod (UVZ).
EVR Cargo CEO Raul Toomsalu has denied the allegations, stating that the company has no contact with UVZ whatsoever.
"AS EVR Cargo's rolling stock includes open wagons made by UVZ, the heavy military equipment manufacturer of the Russian Federation," it stands in a letter sent by Kross to Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson (Center).
According to Kross, sanctions have been imposed on UVZ both by the EU and the U.S. in connection with Russia's destabilizing actions in Ukraine.
The Reform MP is asking the minister about the provision of maintenance for the wagons and whether and to what degree agreements exists or transactions have been concluded with companies subject to these sanctions.
"EVR Cargo has had no economic contact whatsoever with UVZ over the past five years," Toomsalu told BNS. "Maintenance of the wagons is performed either by EVR Cargo itself or by transport companies which have nothing to do with UVZ."
The director of the railcargo operator explained that the UVZ-manufactured wagons currently in the EVR fleet were obtained in 2006 and 2007, when the current EVR Cargo was one company with Estonian Railways and the owners were Americans.
Suspicions that the purchase of wagons from Russia by EVR Cargo may violate EU sanctions against Russia has likewise previously been expressed by Reform Party chairman Hanno Pevkur and former Minister of Foreign Affairs and current MEP Urmas Paet (Reform).
"To my knowledge, this is not a development that would contradict European sanctions," Simson told BNS in July in response to the criticism. "Railcars and the railcar business are not under sanctions. The managers of EVR Cargo have confirmed that their lessees are not under sanctions either. The sanctions have been imposed first and foremost on military technology and companies that support the annexation of Crimea. EVR Cargo is not engaging in cooperation with these companies."
Simson also reminded her critics at the time that the plan as such was drawn up when the Reform Party was still the leading party of the coalition government at the time.
EVR Cargo signed a €17.8 million agreement in June for the purchase of 300 container platforms and 200 open wagons from Russia. EVR Cargo has rented the container platforms to a Finnish company and the open wagons to a Lithuanian company.
EVR Cargo's primary lines of business are freight shipment by rail, the maintenance of locomotives and wagons, and railcar rentals. Including the brand new container platforms and open wagons, EVR Cargo's rolling stock consists of 66 locomotives and 3,022 wagons.
The company employed 684 people in 2016.
Editor: Aili Vahtla