Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry has expressed its deep concern at the August 19 Russian court verdict on Estonian police officer Eston Kohver who was kidnapped by the Russian special services and illegally held in Russian custody in the course of almost a year in violation of international law.
The conviction by Kohver by the Pskov oblast’s regional court carries a sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment.
Bulgaria expresses solidarity with its ally Estonia and once again calls on the Russian Federation to respect its international obligations to immediately release Mr. Kohver and ensure his safe return to his home country, the Foreign Ministry in Sofia said.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that Kohver’s abduction and subsequent illegal detention in Russia constitute a clear violation of international law.
“Moreover, from the very beginning, Mr Kohver has been deprived of the right to a fair trial: there was no public hearing of the case, the Estonian consul was not allowed to be present at the hearings and Mr Kohver was deprived of adequate legal aid,” Mogherini said.
Despite repeated requests, the Russian authorities have failed to resolve the issue. The EU continues to call on the Russian Federation to act according to its international obligations, release Mr Kohver immediately and guarantee his safe return to Estonia, she said.
John Kirby, a US state department spokesperson, said that the US was deeply concerned by the conviction and 15-year sentence handed to Kohver by a Russian regional court.
“His abduction, detention, and now conviction on baseless charges demonstrates a flagrant disregard by Russian authorities for the rule of law, and raises serious questions about Russia’s compliance with its international legal obligations,” Kirby said.
” We are troubled by reports that Mr. Kohver did not receive adequate legal representation from his attorney, who was appointed by Russian authorities, and that neither the public nor the Estonian consul were permitted to be present during the judicial proceedings.”
The US said that it was calling once again on Russia to act in accordance with its international obligations and immediately return Kohver to Estonia.