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10 Feb, 2024 21:55

EU state putting ‘psychological pressure’ on Russian residents – Moscow

The Estonian authorities seek to affect turnout in the upcoming presidential election, envoy Lenar Salimullin says
EU state putting ‘psychological pressure’ on Russian residents – Moscow

Estonian officials and media have been putting “psychological pressure” on Russian nationals residing in the country ahead of the March presidential election, apparently seeking to affect turnout, Moscow’s charge d’affaires in the country, Lenar Salimullin, claims.

Speaking to RIA Novosti in an interview published on Saturday, Salimullin condemned the hostile rhetoric from multiple Estonian officials who have called the upcoming presidential election in Russia “illegitimate,” with some even suggesting banning local Russian residents from taking part.

“Despite relatively recent calls in Estonia at the highest level not to recognize the results of the upcoming Russian presidential elections and even to completely ‘forbid’ the embassy from organizing polling at the mission, citizens of our country living in the republic will be guaranteed their fundamental constitutional right to vote,” the diplomat said.

The hostile rhetoric is apparently intensifying, the diplomat noted, with multiple local media outlets issuing warnings to Russians regarding the election, Salimullin noted. Some outlets have even equated voting in the election to “support of mass falsifications” and “aggression against Ukraine,” he said.

“Such information background is obviously being created in order to intimidate people and ultimately minimize the turnout at the polling station” at the embassy in Tallinn, the diplomat claimed.

Earlier this week, former Estonian intelligence chief and Reform Party MP Eerik-Niiles Kross said it would not be easy for Tallinn to actually bar Russians in Estonia from taking part in the election, given the legally-questionable nature of the move and the potential retaliation it could bring. 

“Russia is holding elections on its own territory, in its embassy, which is the territory of the Russian Federation, so it is protected by the Vienna Convention and several other conventions to which Estonia is a party. And we also have to consider that our diplomats are still in Moscow now, so what we do to them, they do to us,” Kross explained.

The MP, however, described the Russian election as “illusory,” stating that Tallinn fully stands by the EU’s position on the matter, with “both the European Parliament and the Council of Europe [having] passed resolutions calling for these elections not to be recognized.”