Nikolai Polozov, one of the two prominent lawyers hired by Estonia to represent security police official Eston Kohver, told ETV in an exclusive interview that the case of the official believed abducted from Estonian soil was a bellwether for Russian judicial practice and a difficult challenge for the legal team.
“It is truly an interesting case. It is on the same order as other court cases we have dealt with, cases that involve the abduction of people from foreign soil and their transport to Russia where criminal cases are launched against them.”
He said it was most like the case of a Ukrainian helicopter pilot, Nadezhda Savchenko, who is also imprisoned in Russia. Savchenko was charged in July in the deaths of two Russian journalists covering the war in eastern Ukraine. She has stated that she was kidnapped from across the border, ambushed when driving her car to pick up Ukrainian army soldiers injured in a skirmish with separatists in eastern Ukraine.
“This was not a practice seen earlier on the part of the Russian Federation. And the information that I have confirms that Eston Kohver was abducted from Estonian territory; he did not cross the Russian border,” he said. Polozov said the legal team would try to meet Kohver as quickly as possible.
“The problem is that the FSB is carrying out the investigation and secondly, access to the Lefortovo pretrial investigation prison is not so simple,” he said, adding that there was red tape and paperwork that the legal team was trying to resolve.
Polozov said the biggest challenge his team faces, is to overcome a level of “arbitrariness” which, he said, the Russian authorities, police and courts condone.
“Overcoming the arbitrariness, and invoking international as well as Russian norms is the hardest thing to do in Russian courts,” he said.
Polozov said the court saga would be long and high-profile investigations would span months. Eston Kohver currently has three attorneys but will likely waive the defender appointed to him by Russia, Yevgeni Aksyonov.