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Opinion digest: Traitors getting caught, nobody accepting responsibility

Andrus Karnau and Ahto Lobjakas.
Andrus Karnau and Ahto Lobjakas. Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR

Commentators Andrus Karnau and Ahto Lobjakas said on Sunday's issue of ERR radio talkshow Olukorrast riigis ("State of the nation") that while ever since Herman Simm's arrest in 2008 more traitors have been caught, nobody has taken responsibility for the leaking of information of Estonia's security authorities.

Journalist Andrew Karnau said that he doesn't understand why the Estonian Defence Forces' commander, Gen. Riho Terras, gave interviews to the media instead of "getting on the train to Narva and handing his insignia over to the president."

"To me, the issue is responsibility. I could be wrong, but as I see it ever since Simm people have been found in Estonia's state structure who were active for years, and once their activities are discovered, there was no emphasis on someone actually taking responsibility for what happened," Karnau said.

Herman Simm was arrested in 2008 and convicted of treason in 2009 in Estonia's first major spy case since it regained independence in 1991. Since Simm, several other Russian agents have been arrested, including former Estonian intelligence officer Aleksei Dressen, and more recently EDF Maj. Deniss Metsavas.

Karnau added that he would be interested to hear whether this is considered inevitable, some sort of unavoidable state of war between Russia and Estonia where the other side manages to get officials and officers to work for them, or if the responsibility for these cases also rests with the Estonian state.

Political commentator Ahto Lobjakas, on the show with Karnau, agreed that the issue is important, and pointed out that the narrative has been that more traitors caught means the Internal Security Service (ISS) and Estonia's military intelligence are working more effectively.

Lobjakas sees evidence of an established strategic culture at the top level of Estonia's security institutions.

"There are certain aspects of Estonia's strategic cultures that become more established with each one of these incidents," Lobjakas said. "This strategic culture is such that the top levels of our power structures, especially the people in charge, are not responsible for any of the problems that occur in their areas, because that would be a sign of weakness."

Another example of this culture is the recent incident of a Spanish fighter pilot accidentally firing a live missile over Tartu County, Lobjakas said. Nobody had taken any responsibility for it, and there even isn't anyone that could be held responsible.

Karnau remarked that though everyone has been talking about Maj. Metsavas, nobody seems to know a thing about his father and co-conspirator, Pjotr Volin. How he was arrested, what role he played. "To me the question is, was Metsavas' father his handler, and was Volin left in Estonia as a sleeper agent of the KGB to look for victims to get busy within the Estonian state?" he said.

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Editor: Dario Cavegn

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