Estonia wants to terminate Estonian-Russian legal aid agreement

  • 2023-09-15
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Estonian Minister of Justice Kalle Laanet sent to public coordination a bill seeking to extraordinarily terminate the legal assistance agreement valid between the Republic of Estonia and the Russian Federation.

The legal assistance agreement between Estonia and Russia, valid since 1995, provides for a simplified special procedure in several legal issues. In addition to the recognition of judgments, the legal aid agreement also resolves, for example, requests for the delivery of documents and ensures cooperation in criminal cases. If the agreement is terminated, legal cooperation with Russia would take place in the future in the same way as it happens with all other third countries.

"The premise of the legal assistance agreement is mutual trust in each other's legal systems, but we do not have this trust in the justice system of the Russian Federation today," Laanet said, adding that Estonia cannot maintain friendly relations with an aggressor state.

According to Laanet, there are definitely issues in which procedures would become more difficult for citizens, but this does not mean that these issues will remain unsolved, but dealing with them may require more time and additional procedures.

"In some cases, obtaining documents may become more difficult, but we have provisions that protect people in situations where obtaining documents from a foreign country is difficult. We also have citizens of other third countries living here who manage to get their things sorted," the minister said.

At the same time, there are issues that would be easier to resolve by terminating the legal aid agreement. For example, in the future, a claim for child support for a child living in Estonia could be filed in Estonia even if the other parent lives in Russia. In the future, apartment associations that have problems with debtors who are Russian citizens would also be able to apply to Estonian courts.

The Ministry of Justice is waiting for feedback from stakeholders until Oct. 6. The termination of the agreement is decided by the Riigikogu.