TALLINN, October 24 (RIA Novosti) – Estonian politician and former security official, Eerik-Niiles Kross, charged with sea piracy in Russia and placed on Interpol’s wanted list at Moscow’s request, has been appointed as political adviser to the country’s defense minister.
"I expect Kross to make a strong contribution to the current programs of extensive recruitment of volunteers into national defense as well as to the improvement of national defense instruction at schools," a statement by the Defense Ministry on Wednesday quoted Defense Minister Urmas Reinsalu.
Kross, 46, will be a part-time adviser with a monthly salary of 600 euro in the job that he takes on by the end of October, the ministry said.
Kross came in second during last Sunday’s mayoral election in Estonia’s capital, Tallin, but clinched a place on the 70-seat city council, where his minority Islamaa ja Res Publica Liit party party will hold 16 seats.
At Russia's request, Interpol issued an international arrest warrant for Kross on the eve of Sunday’s election, on charges of organizing maritime piracy. The move drew vocal claims that Moscow was trying to affect the outcome of the vote.
Authorities in the former Soviet republic slammed the timing of Russia’s request as politically motivated and filed a protest with Interpol.
Kross, who advised Georgian authorities during and after that country’s five-day war with Russia in 2008, was charged in absentia in Russia in 2012 for allegedly organizing the 2009 hijacking of the Arctic Sea cargo ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Arctic Sea went missing in the Atlantic on July 24, 2009 while carrying a $2 million shipment of timber from Finland to Algeria. It was intercepted by the Russian Navy two weeks later off West Africa.
The ship was seized by a group of Estonian, Latvian and Russian nationals. In 2010, Latvian national Dmitry Savins was sentenced to seven years in a high-security prison for leading a pirate attack on the vessel. He claimed the attack had been masterminded by Kross, who denied the allegations.