Mon, Sep 08, 2014 - Page 6 News List

Russia holds officer from Estonia over ‘undercover ops’

KIDNAP VS ARREST?Days after US President Barack Obama renewed faith with NATO members, Estonia and Russia faced off over a detained officer

AFP, MOSCOW

Russia yesterday detained an Estonian policeman in a probe into alleged intelligence gathering after Tallinn accused Moscow of abducting him.

Estonian officer Eston Kohver was placed behind bars after a Moscow court approved his arrest, heightening tensions between EU member Estonia and its powerful neighbor.

Russian state television on Saturday showed the handcuffed policeman being led into court by masked officers.

Russia’s FSB security service said in a statement that it had detained Kohver in northwestern Russia close to the Estonian border on Friday as he tried to carry out an “undercover operation.”

Prosecutors in Estonia said Kohver was abducted at gunpoint from Estonian territory by Russians who detonated a smoke grenade and jammed radio communications. They said he had been probing cross-border crime.

The FSB said Kohver was found in possession of a pistol, ammunition, 5,000 euros (US$6,500), “special equipment to carry out covert recording” and “materials that seem to be assignments for an intelligence gathering mission.”

It claimed that Kohver works for Estonia’s powerful security police, which oversees internal security and intelligence gathering.

“Kohver has been detained and the necessary investigative work is being carried out,” the FSB said.

Russian television aired video footage of the evidence provided by the FSB, suggesting that authorities in Moscow want to play up the incident.

Kohver’s arrest came just two days after a landmark visit by US President Barack Obama to Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, aimed at reassuring jittery Baltic states of his country’s commitment to their security as NATO allies in the face of Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis.

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