Date: 14 February 2019

GRU agent in Estonian army convicted of spying for Russia

Less than half a year after the capture of two people suspected of working for the GRU, Russia’s main military intelligence agency, the Harju County Court has ruled on their case. Former officer of the Estonian military Deniss Metsavas has been sentenced to 15 and a half years in prison and his father Pjotr Volin to 6 years in prison.


The Harju County Court in Tallinn announced the verdict on February 11. The trial was held behind closed doors. The former Estonian army officer and his father, both Estonian citizens of Russian background, were found guilty of high treason for passing Estonian state secrets and confidential military information to Russia. 38-year-old Deniss Metsavas was sentenced to 15 years and six months in prison and his 65-year-old father, Pjotr Volin was sentenced to 6 years in prison. The information about their arrest was reported in September 2018.

Metsavas held the rank of major in the Estonian Defence Forces. During his military service, he took part in the NATO mission in Afghanistan. He spied for Russia for over 10 years and received for it almost 20,000 euros. His father, Pjotr Volin acted as a courier who passed secret Estonian information to Russian intelligence services. According to the court, the data gathered and transferred by the father-son spy duo was later passed to the GRU, the Russian military intelligence service. During a press conference that took place right after the verdict was announced, Director General of the Estonian Internal Security Service (Estonian: Kaitsepolitsei, widely known as KaPo) Arnold Sinisalu did not want to reveal what type of information Metsavas passed to the GRU. “He worked in the General Staff, and before that he had dealt with the development of artillery. You can figure it out yourselves,” the Head of the Estonian Security Police told the press. Kaitsepolitsei classified the files of the case for the period of 50 years. Therefore, it followed the same path as in some previous cases, especially the most serious ones (Vladimir Veitman, Aleksei Dressen, Herman Simm). In September 2018, shortly after the arrest of the spy pair, KaPo denied a number of reports made by some Western media that Metsavas had been captured thanks to Sergei Skripal’s help. Even before the trial was held, Metsavas had announced that he would not appeal against the verdict. Perhaps he counts on being exchanged for somebody convicted in Russia. Such cases have occurred in the past. Since 2008, KaPo has captured 6 traitors and 11 people who committed crimes against the Estonian state for the benefit of Russia’s secret services. All of them were charged by the prosecutor’s office and all were convicted in a court of law. To learn more about the effective methods used by the Estonian Internal Security Service in the fight against Russian spies, we encourage you to read the following article of “The Warsaw Institute Review”.

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