Photo: John Thys Agence France-Presse According to a notice visible Tuesday on the website of the Russian Interior Ministry, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas is being prosecuted in Russia in “a criminal case”, without specifying what crime or offense the leader is accused of.
France Media Agency in Moscow
Russia on Tuesday launched wanted notices against at least three officials from the Baltic countries and three Poles, including Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, against the backdrop of a memorial conflict between these countries of the former bloc communist and Moscow.
The Kremlin invoked the opposing vision of history held by Moscow and these states to justify this decision. Since the Russian assault on Ukraine in February 2022, this is the first time that Russia has issued a wanted notice against a sitting foreign leader.
“These people are responsible for decisions which are de facto an insult to History, these are people who carry out hostile actions against historical memory, against our country”, denounced the spokesperson of the Russian presidency, Dmitri Peskov.
The Baltic States, which fear the Kremlin's military ambitions, consider that the USSR occupied them, while Moscow sees itself as a liberator and judges any other approach as a “falsification of History” , a crime in Russia.
According to a notice visible on the website of the Ministry of the Interior, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas is being prosecuted in “a criminal case”, without specifying what crime or offense the leader is accused of.
The Estonian Secretary of State, Taimar Peterkop, was also targeted by a wanted poster, as well as the Minister of Culture of Lithuania, Simonas Kairys.
According to the TASS news agency, the same applies to the Polish head of the National Institute of Memory, Karol Nawrocki, the mayor of the Polish town of Walbrzych, Roman Szelemej, and a former Polish Deputy Foreign Minister, Karol Rabenda.
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“The regime is doing what it has always done: it is trying to stifle freedom […] and continue to create its own version which is in contradiction with the facts”, reacted Simonas Kairys in a press release sent to AFP.
For her part, Kaja Kallas denounced a “habitual intimidation tactic” on the part of Russia.
Russian minorities reside in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, now members of the EU and NATO, and Moscow considers them oppressed there.
Relations have further deteriorated with the conflict in Ukraine. The Baltic countries and Poland have actively supported kyiv for two years in its fight against the Russian army.
Moscow for its part has been denouncing for years the fact that the Baltics do not accept the fact that the USSR was a liberator against the Nazis and not an occupier.
In recent years, several of these monuments inherited from the USSR after the victory against Nazi Germany have been dismantled in the Baltic countries, as a sign of rejection of the Soviet period.
The Baltic countries and Poland, like Russia's other western neighbors, say they are seriously considering a Russian attack and are strengthening their military capabilities in the face of this eventuality.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared for his part that he ruled out the idea of invading Poland or Latvia, two countries in which his country has, according to him, “no interests”.< /p>
Before the assault on Ukraine at the end of February 2022, many senior Russian officials also repeatedly repeated that a military offensive against kyiv would not take place.
Vladimir Putin himself has been the subject, since March 2023, of an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court for the “illegal deportation” of Ukrainian children to Russia for two years, which the authorities Russians deny.
In recent weeks, several signs of persistent tensions between Moscow and the Baltic countries have emerged.
On February 6, Russia summoned the charges d'affaires of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, accusing them of “sabotageing” the Russian presidential election in March by refusing to ensure the security of polling stations in Russian embassies on their sol.
In mid-January, Latvia and Estonia decided to end their legal assistance agreements with Russia, with officials from both countries citing Moscow's assault on Ukraine as pattern.
Earlier in January, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky toured the Baltics.