Ex-employees of Sputnik Media Elena Cherysheva and Mati-Dmitry Terestal were detained in Estonia, they are suspected of violating international sanctions, according to the Delfi portal. Colleagues of journalists told RIA Novosti that it was impossible to contact them after many hours of search.
In early March, the Estonian Internet information portal Sputnik Media announced that it was shutting down due to pressure and restrictions from Estonian banks and authorities, as well as threats against its employees. As editor-in-chief Elena Cherysheva stated at the time, throughout the year, Estonian banks froze employees’ salaries and closed Sputnik Media accounts on the basis of suspicions of “money laundering, terrorist financing, illegal sale of alcohol.” In addition, recently many newsmakers have refused to cooperate with the portal, and the editor-in-chief and employees have been receiving “blatant threats from obscure personalities.”
According to the portal, journalists are suspected of violating international sanctions. According to the materials of the criminal case, the Estonian authorities suspect journalists of transferring money allegedly received from Russia to a sanctioned person, as well as that they allegedly continued to manage Sputnik Media after the EU imposed sanctions on March 1.
A colleague of the detainees told RIA Novosti that the search at Cherysheva and Terestal’s residences lasted eight hours. “After that, it is still impossible to establish contact with them,” the source said.
At the moment, RIA Novosti does not have a comment from the Russian embassy in Estonia.
Portal Delfi also cites the words of the prosecutor Taavi Pern, who said that a criminal case was initiated on suspicion of economic ties prohibited by international sanctions.
“The European Union has imposed international sanctions for international crimes against the state and people of Ukraine. Violation of the sanctions will entail a crime against the world,” Delfi quotes Pern. He added that they would not evaluate the content published on the portal as part of this criminal proceeding.
Criminal proceedings are conducted by the security police under the direction of the prosecutor’s office.
Sputnik Media was created by former employees of Sputnik Estonia, which, after four years of operation, was closed two years ago due to threats from the Estonian police.