Altogether 17 citizens of the Russian Federation sought political asylum in Estonia last year, spokespeople for the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) said.
"Last year, 17 citizens of the Russian Federation filed an application for international protection," PPA spokespeople told BNS on Friday. "During the first three months of this year, three applications were filed."
The ministry declined to disclose information about the number of people granted asylum, as this may jeopardize the protection of the identity of the recipients of international protection.
It was reported on Thursday that Estonia had granted political asylum to Russia democracy activist Konstantin Tchadlin, a member of Open Russia's Bashkortostan branch who was sentenced behind his back to ten years in prison in Russia. The activist secretly left Russia last spring already, Interfax reported; based on his social media account, he has been in Estonia since last July.
According to PPA data, altogether 116 applications for international protection were submitted in Estonia last year, not including the quota refugees who arrived in the country under the EU migration plan.
PPA spokespeople told BNS that of these 116 applications, the largest number were submitted by citizens of Ukraine, Russia and Georgia, noting that these were individuals who came to Estonia on their own initiative and filed their asylum requests there.
Last year, 15 people in all were granted the status of refugee or additional protection in Estonia, while 23 people received the residence permit of a family member.
PPA data differs significantly from data published by Eurostat earlier this week, according to which 180 asylum requests were submitted in Estonia in 2017.
The PPA ascribed the discrepancy in the numbers to the fact that unlike Estonia's own national statistics, Eurostat also counts relocated individuals as initial asylum-seekers. Eurostat statistics also only include those who submit an application for the first time; this means that Eurostat data does not include repeat requests. Eurostat also rounds up numbers.
Altogether 84 asylum requests were submitted in Estonia in 2016.
Editor: Aili Vahtla