Juri Pihl, former head of the Estonian security police, believes that the Estonian authorities were defeated twice in the story with Eston Kohver, who was convicted for espionage in Russia.
"Firstly, it was a failed operation, what happened there on the border," he said in an interview with the newspaper Postimees on Sunday, referring to Kohver's detention on the Estonian-Russian border.
"The other side captured our man. Conclusions should be drawn from that," Pihl said.
Pihl believes that the second defeat is the coverage of Kohver's exchange for Alexei Dressen, who was sentenced to 16 years for high treason (spying for Russia) in Estonia in 2012.
"Russia made a media event of Kohver's exchange for a man convicted of high treason, and in Estonia Kohver was quickly led away from the press. I would not have handled it in that way," Pihl said.
The former head of the special service said only a strong country can oppose its opponents and "the state should not look funny in international affairs."
In that regard, he expressed surprise about the fact that the television channels of Estonia and its allies had to cover the exchange using the "Russian picture," while "we could have shown everything after five minutes with our comments."
On September 5, 2014, Russian security officers arrested Estonian security police officer Eston Kohver in possession of weapons and a large amount of cash on the Estonian-Russian border. On August 19, 2015, the Pskov region's court sentenced Kohver to 15 years in jail. Tallinn insists that the detention was made illegally on the Estonian side and that Kohver was forcibly taken to Russia, and Moscow says he had crossed the border and was detained on the Russian side.
Kohver was exchanged for Dressen on September 26.
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