YLE’s, Tallinn correspondent, Risto Vuorinen, has claimed that Estonian border officer, Eston Kohver, who was abducted by Russian agents from Estonian territory last year and was recently sentenced to 15 years in prison without a lawyer or proper trial, was in fact an Estonian a spy. Vuorinen’s view, published on Finland’s national broadcaster’s website, echoes claims made by the Kremlin and Russian state owned media.
Vuorinen’s latest YLE piece follows a string of controversial pieces that feature anti-Estonian sentiments. In a 2010 YLE piece, Vuorinen claimed that Estonian children in Tartu were so poor that they were “forced to eat leaves from trees”. Earlier this year, Vuorinen became embroiled in controversy after supporting racist and sexist statements made on the Finnish blog “Todellinen Tallinn” on social media, which is run by an anti-Estonian Finnish writer, Sami Lottila.
In his current YLE piece, Vuorinen says that Kohver “was at the Estonian and Russian border on a spying operation. But from public [government] statements, one would get the picture that he was an innocent Estonian citizen who was simply on a berry picking expedition.”
The Estonian government has consistently maintained that Kohver was investigating a smuggling and corruption case involving nearby customs agents.
Contrary to the Estonian government’s position, Vuorinien claims in his YLE article, that the Estonian Security Police had admitted that Kohver was at the border to hand over 5000 Euros to an FSB agent named Ivanov, who was to deliver some ambiguous “important data” to the Estonian officer.
“Kohver was a spy who was caught red handed by the FSB,” writes Vuorinien.
According to a report by Estonian news portal Delfi, Estonian Security Police (KAPO) have strongly denied Vuorinen’s claims that KAPO admitted to any spying by Kohver. In a statement by KAPO representative, Harry Puusepp said “if anyone has been exposed here it is Risto Vuorinen, who is clearly promoting Kremlin generated propaganda.”
Vuorinen also predicted that Kohver would be used in a prisoner swap for an FSB agent, Vladimir Veitman, who was tried and convicted of spying for the Kremlin in Estonia two years ago.
A Timeline of Finnish Anti-Estonian Propaganda