The Estonian Internal Security Service apprehended suspects for vandalising cars belonging to the Minister of the Interior and a journalist

21.02.2024 | 09:32

From December to February, the Estonian Internal Security Service has detained 10 suspects for acting on behalf of a Russian special service. Among them are persons suspected to have broken the windows of the minister’s and a journalist’s car.
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The information collected in the criminal proceedings thus far indicates that the Russian special service coordinated a hybrid operation against the security of the Republic of Estonia, involving the suspects detained. To the knowledge of the Estonian Internal Security Service, the aim was to spread fear and create tension in Estonian society.

Investigators have reason to suspect the detained persons performed various roles according to the instructions of a Russian special service – they collected information for the preparation of the attacks, and some of the planned attacks were also carried out. Among other things, they were incited to commit the crimes under investigation – smashing the minister’s and journalist’s car windows, and profaning monuments. 

State Prosecutor Triinu Olev explains that this is an initial suspicion that is being verified in the criminal proceedings. “The proceedings have been initiated pursuant to the section of the Penal Code concerning a criminal offence against the security of the Republic of Estonia. The Prosecutor’s Office has requested the committal in custody of six persons, who we fear may continue to commit criminal offences and evade criminal proceedings.” She added: “We cannot overlook the seriousness of the acts under investigation and the fact that the persons involved were suspected of readiness to participate in activities against the security of the Republic of Estonia without thinking about the consequences.”

Margo Palloson, Director General of the Estonian Internal Security Service, has a clear message to those who respond to calls for anti-Estonian activities: “Sooner or later, we will catch those who are trying to endanger the security of the Estonian state,” he assured. 

Russian special services have tried to create tension in many ways in Estonia for years. According to Palloson, there is a lack of wider community support for Russia’s divisive activities in Estonia and the services do not achieve their goals. He said: “The Russian services do not care about the well-being of the perpetrators, they are used as a tool and left to suffer the consequences alone.”

Palloson confirmed that some of the people who vandalised memorials were recruited through social media. “Attentive people have already helped us a lot, and I encourage one and all to report to the Estonian Internal Security Service if you see anyone recruiting possible perpetrators for such attacks,” he stated.

The first of the persons suspected of planning and carrying out attacks in Estonia were detained in December, the following in early February and last week. As procedural operations are carried out to verify the suspicion and ascertain important facts, it is not possible to discuss these incidents in further detail. The criminal proceedings are managed by the Office of the Prosecutor General and conducted by the Estonian Internal Security Service.

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