The name of Prime Minister Kaja Kallas appeared on the Russian Interior Ministry’s list of people wanted on unspecified criminal charges, although it was unclear when she was added, according to Mediazona, an independent Russian news outlet. The list includes scores of officials and lawmakers from other Baltic nations.
The move was related to her efforts to remove World War II monuments, other Russian officials said. There was no immediate reaction from Estonian authorities.
Moscow has denounced those moves as a desecration of the memory of Soviet soldiers who fell while fighting Nazi Germany.
The inclusion of Kallas – who has fiercely advocated for increased military help to Ukraine and stronger sanctions against Russia – appears to reflect the Kremlin’s effort to raise the stakes in the face of Nato pressure over the war.
It is the first time the Russian Interior Ministry has put a foreign leader on a wanted list. Estonian Secretary of State Taimar Peterkop and Lithuanian Culture Minister Simonas Kairys also are on the list, which is accessible to the public, along with scores of officials and lawmakers from Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova confirmed that Kallas and Peterkop were on the list because of their involvement in the removal of monuments.
Asked about the move, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was a response to action by Kallas and others who “have taken hostile action toward historic memory and our country”.
Russia has laws criminalising the “rehabilitation of Nazism” that include punishing the desecration of war memorials. Russia’s Investigative Committee, the country’s top criminal investigation agency, has a department dealing with alleged “falsification of history” and “rehabilitation of Nazism,” which has ramped up its action since the start of the war, according to Mediazona, which broke the news on Kallas’ addition to the wanted list.
Mediazona, which published a long survey of the list, said it also includes scores of Ukrainian officials and foreign nationals accused of fighting alongside Ukrainian armed forces.
The inclusion of Kallas could also mark an attempt by Moscow to counter last year’s arrest warrant against Putin that was issued by the International Criminal Court over the alleged deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. The Interior Ministry’s list also includes ICC President Piotr Hofmanski.
While it means little in practical terms since contacts between Moscow and the West contacts have been frozen during the conflict, it comes at a time when European members of Nato are growing increasingly worried about how the US election will affect the alliance.
“‘You didn’t pay? You’re delinquent?’” the Republican front-runner recently said he told an unidentified Nato member during his presidency. “‘No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You gotta pay.’”
Trump’s statement shocked many in Europe, drawing a pledge from Poland, France and Germany to bolster Europe’s security and defence power.