Ex-Spy Accused in Arctic Sea Case


Eerik Niiles Kross

By Alexander Bratersky, The St. Petersburg Times, MOSCOW — A Latvian has been sentenced to seven years in prison for hijacking the Arctic Sea ship last year, and he accused the former head of Estonia’s intelligence service of organizing the operation.

The defendant and convicted leader of the hijacking, Dmitry Savins, told a Moscow court that Eerik Niiles Kross, a former Estonian official, businessman and historian, was hard-pressed for money and orchestrated the hijack expecting to receive a $1.5 million ransom from the owners of the Arctic Sea, RIA-Novosti reported.

Savins, who was sentenced Friday, said Kross paid him 200,000 euros ($244,000), and each of the other pirates was promised 20,000 euros.

But no evidence against Kross was given, and piracy expert Mikhail Voitenko called the claim “pulp fiction” in his online Maritime Bulletin. Voitenko, who was the first to report about the Arctic Sea’s mysterious disappearance last July, was forced to leave Russia in fear for his life after he said the incident might be linked to a weapons smuggling operation.

Investigators are looking into the matter, Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told reporters Friday.

Kross, who headed the Estonian intelligence service in the late 1990s, has acknowledged being acquainted with Savins, who rented an office in a building owned by him, but denied any involvement in the Arctic Sea case. Kross currently runs the Trustcorp consulting company, which is involved in political lobbying, intelligence planning and crisis management in post-Soviet countries, including Georgia, and Kross linked Georgia to the accusations against him.

“I think this invention is connected to my work as a security adviser in Georgia. Georgia is not Russia’s best friend,” Kross told Estonia’s Eesti Paevaleht newspaper.

Kross also wrote several historical nonfiction books about the “Forest Brothers,” Estonian guerillas who fought against the Soviet army in the 1940s. His father was a former gulag prisoner and prominent historical novelist.

The Estonian Prosecutor General’s Office said it did not have any evidence of Kross’ involvement in the case, Interfax reported.

The Arctic Sea, which was carrying a cargo of timber from Kaliningrad to West Africa, disappeared in July off the coast of Sweden and was rediscovered and boarded by the Russian Navy off Cape Verde a month later.

Russian authorities have given conflicting versions of what happened, prompting speculation that the ship might have been carrying secret cargo, possibly missiles for Iran or drugs.

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One Response to “Ex-Spy Accused in Arctic Sea Case”

  1. Andrey Says:

    about eerik kross …

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