TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Estonia's prime minister has been placed on Russia's most wanted list over her efforts to remove Soviet-era World War II relics in the Baltic country, officials said Tuesday as tensions between Russia and the West rise. Central Estonia. The war is on Ukraine.
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas's name appeared on the Russian Interior Ministry's list of people wanted on unspecified criminal charges. While independent Russian news agency Mediazona first reported on Tuesday that Callas was on the list, it said she had been on it for some time. The list includes dozens of officials and lawmakers from other Baltic countries.
Russian officials said Callas was included on the list because of her efforts to remove traces of World War II.
Callas dismissed this as a “familiar Moscow intimidation tactic.”
“Russia may believe that issuing a fake arrest warrant will silence Estonia,” she added. He added: “I refuse to be silent, and I will continue to loudly support Ukraine and call for strengthening European defenses.”
Estonia and fellow NATO members Latvia and Lithuania have demolished monuments widely viewed as unwanted legacies of the Soviet occupation of those countries.
Since the large-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine nearly two years ago, several monuments to Red Army soldiers have also been found. to withdraw In Poland and the Czech Republic, there has been a belated purge of what many see as symbols of past oppression.
Moscow denounced these moves, describing them as a desecration of the memory of Soviet soldiers who fell while fighting Nazi Germany.
Inclusion of Callas – which he strongly defended Increase military aid to Ukraine The tougher sanctions against Russia appear to reflect efforts by the Kremlin to raise the stakes in the face of pressure from NATO and the European Union over the war.
“Estonia and I are consistent in our policy: supporting Ukraine, strengthening European defense, and fighting Russian propaganda,” Callas said, referring to her family’s history of confronting Soviet repression. “This hit close to home: My grandmother and mother were deported to Siberia, and it was the KGB that issued the fabricated arrest warrants.”
This is the first time that the Russian Interior Ministry has put a foreign leader on the wanted list. Estonian Foreign Minister Temar Petrkop and Lithuanian Culture Minister Simonas Kaires are also on the list, which is available to the public, along with dozens of officials and lawmakers from Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
Mika Golobowski, editor of MediaZona's English-language service, told the Associated Press that Kalas and other politicians from the Baltic states had been in the Interior Ministry's most wanted database since mid-October and he was the only head of state on the list.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova confirmed that Kalas and Petercup were on the list because of their involvement in removing the monuments.
Asked about the move, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was a response to the actions of Kalas and others who “took hostile measures towards historical memory and our country.”
Russia has laws that criminalize “Nazi rehabilitation” and include punishment for the desecration of war memorials. The Russian Investigative Committee, the country's top criminal investigative agency, has a department that deals with alleged “falsification of history” and “Nazi rehabilitation,” and this department has intensified its work since the beginning of the war, according to Mediazona, which broke the story. Regarding adding Callas to the wanted list.
MediaZona, which published a long survey of the list, said it also includes dozens of Ukrainian officials and foreign citizens accused of fighting alongside the Ukrainian armed forces.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that ridding Ukraine of far-right and neo-Nazi groups is one of the main goals of the war, but he has provided no evidence to support his repeated claims that such groups have a decisive voice in shaping Ukraine's policies. .
Kalas' inclusion could also represent an attempt by Moscow to counter the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court last year against Putin over allegations of deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. The Interior Ministry's list also includes the head of the International Criminal Court, Pyotr Hofmansky.
While this does not mean much in practical terms since communications between Moscow and the West were frozen during the conflict, it comes at a time when European members of NATO are increasingly concerned about how the US elections will affect the alliance.
Former US President Donald Trump raised concerns again NATO Allies That he could allow Russia to expand its aggression in Europe if he returns to the White House.
“You didn't pay?” You are on sinner“The Republican front-runner.” He recently said he said An anonymous member of NATO during his presidency. “No, I won't protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You have to pay.”
This statement contrasts sharply with US President Joe Biden's pledge to “defend every inch of NATO territory,” which the alliance commits all its members to do in the event of an attack.
Trump's statement shocked many in Europe, as Poland, France and Germany pledged to strengthen Europe's security and defense strength.
“Encouraging the Kremlin to attack any NATO ally or NATO territory puts our soldiers — American soldiers and our allied soldiers — at greater risk,” U.S. Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith told reporters on Tuesday. “To do that and make those kind of statements is dangerous and frankly irresponsible.”
While Putin insists he has no plans to strike any NATO countries unless they attack first, Estonia's foreign intelligence service issued an annual report on Tuesday noting that Russia has significantly increased arms production and warning that “the Kremlin most likely anticipates a possible conflict with NATO within… Russia”. next decade.”
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