Estonian travel agencies face criminal charges for organizing trips to annexed Crimea

Estonian Prosecutor’s Office opened a criminal investigation against several Estonian travel agencies suspected of organizing tourist trips to Ukraine’s territory, which was annexed by Russia, reports Postimees news website, with the reference to Estonian media.

"The State Prosecutor’s Office confirms that on Tuesday, five Estonian travel agencies offices were searched based on the suspicion that they offer tourist trips to the Russian-occupied Crimea and Sevastopol, where, in accordance with the European Union’s sanctions, it is forbidden to organize tours and provide tourist services, " said Kaarel Kallas, spokesman for the Estonian prosecutor's office.

In 2014, the EU imposed sanctions on the rendering tourism services in the territories of Ukraine that were annexed by the Russian Federation.

"This measure was introduced jointly by all the EU countries and is aimed at sending a clear message that no EU country recognizes the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation," stressed Kallas.

According to him, five people have been indicted in this case; they were interrogated and later released. The prosecutor's office does not solicit taking any of them into custody, added Kallas.

According to Estonian media, travel agencies in Estonia have been selling trips to the Crimea for years, ignoring European law and putting their clients at risk.

The annexed Crimea is included in Russia’s tourism project "Imperial Route", which passes through the places related to the Romanov dynasty. In November 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in the opening of a monument to Tsar Alexander III of Russia in the Livadia Palace in Yalta.

  crimea, Estonia, Ukraine, Russia