Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Pühapäev, 06 Mai 2012 23:45
The 2012 annual Estonian Security Police (KAPO) report, amongst other items, zeroed in on individuals who are actively opposing the existing Estonian language policies.
The targeting of this type of activity initially seems bizarre, or at the very least, unexpected of a counter-intelligence agency. But when considering Estonia's language policies and Moscow's regret over losing political dominance over central and east Europe, KAPO's vigilance is justified.
Raivo Aeg, KAPO's director general states that, "KAPO has not set its sights on specific individuals, but rather activities. If certain activities are in conflict with Estonia's national security policy, state law, then we become interested, no matter what party or individual is implicated. We are obliged to monitor Russia's and other countries' attempts at influencing policies that may compromise Estonia's security. Those who become involved are certain to pop into our view." ( Aeg was probably making an indirect reference to Mihhail Kõlvart, Tallinn's deputy-mayor, who openly opposes the adoption of legislation making Estonian the language of instruction for 60% of a school's curriculum. In addition Kõlvart regularly meets, both openly and clandestinely, with a Russian "diplomat".)
The reaction of the Russian embassy in Tallinn was to be expected: "The Russian diplomat [Yury Tsvetkov] is baselessly mentioned....in connection with some possible influence and control [he] could....wield over Tallinn's deputy-mayor. KAPO's action....will not be without consequences."
While the embassy's response sounded ominous, a member of the Estonian parliament's watchdog committee on state security establishments, Väino Linde, stated that KAPO's annual report has a preventative effect. Though it's obviously KAPO's own choice what to reveal and what to keep undisclosed, and it's the choice of those named whether to make KAPO accountable through the courts or not. But Linde is assured that KAPO's incriminating material on any one matter has much more depth and breadth than the report reveals. Therefore the credibility and credence of the report is undeniable.
Although KAPO has stressed that Kõlvart's activities have not transgressed the law, critics insist that identifying a person by name is already implies illegality. KAPO's annual report is not unlike the stance that Canada's CSIS has often taken. In 2007 it directly named finance minister Paul Martin as having a friendly relationship with the Tamil Tiger's chapter in Canada, an organization officially listed on an international terrorists' list. In 2010 CSIS stated that certain provincial cabinet ministers were under the influence of foreign governments. Neither revelation caused a major public furor about the violation of politicians' civil rights. CSIS was considered to be fulfilling its legally mandated duties, in those instances in a 'preventative mode'.
But one can still argue whether Estonia, still a developing (albeit successfully) democracy, a country that was able to emerge from a system that used repression as a 'preventative' tool, can afford itself the very delicate balance of public 'warnings' that don't necessarily warrant prosecutions. A rationale exists for KAPO's public report policy. One the one hand, security and intelligence work, by its very nature must be kept from public view. On the other hand this type of work cannot be successful without the support and trust of the public. It's practically impossible to gain any support if an agency's activities, perhaps even existence, are totally unknown to the public.
Therefore it behooves intelligence agencies such as KAPO to be open about certain aspects of their responsibilities, their goals and their achievements. Equally important is informing the pubic of specific national security risks and threats. In this context it would be naïve to expect KAPO to disclose information about tradecraft, human assets, ongoing operations, targets etc. Understandably especially guarded would they be about individuals who have substantially helped Estonia but whose lives would be endangered were they to be publically identified.
KAPO's annual reports have been published since 1998 and haven't drawn the wrath of any international human rights group. One might recall that Edgar Savissar threatened to launch a libel suit against KAPO in 2010 when the latter identified him has asking for 1.5 million euros from an FSB (successor to the KGB) connected Russian official. Savisaar was described as a classical sample of an agent of influence. His threat still remains just as a threat. At least that time, KAPO's verity and credibility were put to the test. It passed. That was probably the most sensational revelation that KAPO has publically made. Also, probably, the most politically and legally tricky information release so far on KAPO's record without arousing furious accusations about human rights abuse. Competent tightroping.