29th May 2022

Estonia arrests, releases pro-Kremlin Italian journalist

  • An Italian journalist has left for Moscow after getting kicked out of Estonia (Photo: EC)

A pro-Kremlin Italian journalist and former MEP arrested in Estonia left the country on Tuesday (16 December) after having violated an entry ban issued by the ministry of interior.

Reporter Giulietto Chiesa was apprehended outside Tallinn airport on Monday and taken to the police station for questioning. Released later that same day, he left for Moscow by train the next morning.

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“I am here [in Estonia] not to advocate Russia’s interests. Hysteria against Russia has nothing to do with Europe’s interests, it is against them,” he told reporters before leaving the country.

“Russia is our friend, never an enemy. It is a colossal market to sell European products. So, I am advocating European interests, and those who call me pro-Kremlin are in fact looking after America’s interests.”

Chiesa was due to speak at an event in Tallinn called "Does Europe need to fear Russia?".

He was unaware of the entry ban, which had been issued on Friday (12 December).

The 74-year old has a long history with Russia and is a political commentator on Russia Today.

He was an MEP from 2004 until 2009, initially as a Liberal, before switching over to the centre-left S&D group in 2006.

He was also vice-chair of the committee on international trade and a member of the delegation to the EU-Russia parliamentary co-operation committee.

Despite his views, Chiesa’s arrest is seen as part of a growing propaganda war in Europe between Russian defenders and those that see the Kremlin as a threat.

A spokesperson at Estonia’s ministry of interior said Chiesa had made numerous hostile remarks about the country and described him as a threat to public order.

“He has defended and justified acts by Mr. Arnold Meri, who was on trial for crimes against humanity, Soviet deportations to Siberia in the forties,” said the spokesperson.

The ministry gave other examples, noting that Chiesa is a member of the pro-Kremlin umbrella organisation known as Gongo Mir Bez Natsizma (MBN), considered a Russian propaganda tool.

“There is a reason to believe that he is involved in the Russian influence operations, due to which his stay in Estonia may pose threat to security of the Republic of Estonia, its public order and public safety,” said the spokesperson.

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