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Estonia jails Russian for spying

Published on September 11, 2019

An Estonian court has sentenced a Russian national to five years in jail for spying, a court document shows, the latest in a string of espionage cases involving Russia in the Baltic states.

The man is identified only as A. A., a Russian with a secondary education, according to a court document made public on Wednesday.

He was detained in May 2019 and subsequently charged with espionage, the document said.

A Tallinn regional court found him guilty on August 29th, sentencing him to five years behind bars and a fine of 1,300 euros ($1,430), it said.

Estonia’s ISS counterintelligence service declined to comment on the case, saying it is still following up on related leads.

Estonia has nabbed at least 15 people recruited by Russia’s GRU intelligence service and its FSB security authority in recent years, the Baltic News Agency reported.

Tallinn and Moscow have also swapped several convicted spies in recent years.

Fellow Baltic state Lithuania announced late last year that it had broken up a local spy ring working for Russia and subsequently jailed several Lithuanians found guilty of spying for Moscow.

The outbreak of the Ukraine crisis in 2014 exacerbated tensions between the Baltic states and Russia dating back to Soviet times.

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania broke free from the crumbling Soviet Union in 1991 and joined the European Union and NATO in 2004, drawing sharp criticism from Moscow.

In 2014 Russia annexed Crimea and Kremlin-backed separatists launched a conflict in eastern Ukraine.