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Estonia decided to terminate agreement on legal assistance with Russia

Estonia decided to terminate agreement on legal assistance with Russia Photo: Estonia decided to terminate the legal assistance agreement with Russia (GettyImages)

The Estonian government, today on March 20, has decided to terminate the Estonian-Russian agreement on legal assistance and legal relations in civil, family, and criminal matters, according to ERR.

The agreement was signed over 30 years ago and was regularly renewed, but now the Estonian government and parliament deemed it necessary to terminate the validity of this document.

The agreement provides for mutual recognition of court decisions and cooperation in criminal cases. It will remain in force until the spring of next year. The reason cited is a lack of trust in the Russian judicial system.

The Ministry of Justice stated that terminating the agreement may create some additional difficulties for citizens, for example, during marriage and divorce procedures with Russians or during inheritance processes. Documents received from the neighboring country will need to be translated and apostilled.

"This decision is primarily a symbolic act, signaling that as long as Russia is at war with Ukraine, the Republic of Estonia cannot have any trusting relations with the aggressor state," stated Janus Karilaid, an independent member of the parliamentary legal committee.

Eduard Odinets, the chairman of the parliamentary legal committee of Estonia, said that now relations with Russia will be based on international agreements. This will be more expensive and complicated.

"All the same cases with the Russian Federation will still be possible, but not based on a bilateral agreement, but on the basis of all other international agreements. Thus, Russia will now be for Estonia like any other African or Asian country, and conducting cases will be much more expensive and complicated," said Odinets.

Termination of agreements with Russia

Since the onset of the full-scale war with Russia, Ukraine has ceased diplomatic relations with the aggressor. European and world countries have begun to terminate previously signed agreements.

Earlier reports indicated that in mid-January 2024, Latvia terminated a similar agreement on legal assistance with Russia.

Additionally, at the end of 2023, Estonia decided to terminate its agreement with Russia on legal assistance.

Finland also decided to terminate its bilateral agreement with the Russian Federation on border cooperation. This was in response to Russia's actions.