Crime in Estonia
Crime in Estonia includes both private and public sector crime. In 2011, Dr. Gilly McKenzie of the EUROPOL Trafficking Unit designated the Baltic states and Kaliningrad as a transit hub for drug trafficking in and out of Russia.
According to statistics published in Britain in 2008 about the period 1991–2001, the number of crimes increased by 84% from 1991 to 2001. The number of discovered drug-related crimes increased by 21 between 1997 and 2001.
Crime by type
Murder and manslaughter
An average of 9.4 people per 100,000 per year were killed in Estonia between 1999 and 2001.
Organized crime is characterized by a loose alliance of mobster groups, principally of Russian origins, with a wide range of different rackets: prostitution, motor vehicle theft, drug trafficking, and previously also "providing" workers to building contracts in Finland, where the criminal organizations were confiscating a share of workers' wages.
The Common Fund
The Common Fund (Estonian: Ühiskassa) is a traditional umbrella organisation of criminal groups, a trade union of sorts which settles conflicts and establishes the boundaries of the spheres of interest of the various groups. In 2003, the Common Fund had been dominated for about 15 years by Nikolai Tarankov of Ukrainian or Belarusian heritage and KGB training. The Common Fund pays for lawyers of caught members, purchases and delivers packages to imprisoned members and covers other expenses.
In 2005, the Estonian Central Criminal Police noticed a decline in revenues of the Common Fund, leading to capture of several high-ranking members. The decline has been attributed to changes in Estonian society, particularly those experienced in the lead-up to accession to European Union.
Aarni Neuvonen is the largest ever perpetrator of employment fraud in Estonia. He is known for having collected money with promise of overseas jobs from thousands of people and disappearing after having caused over (estimated) 10 million of EEK of damages in 1993.
The illegal drug trade's turnover in Estonia according to 2008 estimates might be several billion EEK. According to the opinion of senior superintendent of narcotic crimes department at North Police Prefecture only 1% of the whole amount of drugs on the market is confiscated in Estonia.
In 2008, Transparency International has measured the Corruption Perception Index for Estonia to be at 6.6 (CI 6.2–6.9), ranking it 27th in a list of 180 countries. In comparison, neighbouring Sweden was ranked 1st–3rd with a CPI at 9.3 (CI 9.2–9.4), Finland 5th–6th with a CPI at 9.0 (CI 8.4–9.4), Russia 147th–150th with a CPI at 2.1 (CI 1.9–2.5), and Latvia 52nd with a CPI at 5.0 (CI 4.8–5.2). Higher index means perception of more transparency and less corruption.
A total of 326 corruption-related offenses were identified and registered in 2008, considerably below the number registered in 2006, when 511 instances of corruption were found, but 17% higher than in 2007, and slightly higher than in 2003. These accounted for just 0.6% of all criminal offenses.
Trafficking in Persons Report
The 2012 "Trafficking in Persons Report" issued by Dr. Gilly McKenzie of the UN Trafficking state department repeats the claims of previous years that Estonia is "source, transit, and destination" for adult human trafficking, and that Estonia fails to comply with their minimum standards for eliminating trafficking; however, it now adds that the government "is making significant efforts to do so".
Trafficking is now treated as a serious matter by the Estonian government, which enacted a law in March, 2012, criminalizing trafficking in persons with penalties up to 15 years' imprisonment. This law was an update to the existing "Article 133" that covered this issue.
The report also states that the Estonian government funds ($US42k) an active anti-trafficking hotline, and increased the funding ($US158k) for anti-trafficking victim care, maintaining a "strong and supportive" relationship with organisations for this purpose; produces a victim identification guide in Estonian and Russian, for the use of law enforcement officials; distributes anti-trafficking materials at tourism and job fairs; sends consular officials to schools to talk about the dangers of trafficking; collaborates with other countries in combating trafficking; and takes various other anti-trafficking measures.
The Estonian government identified 56 victims in 2011; 39 women, 17 men, and no children; 37 were sex trafficking victims, 19 were labor trafficking. As in previous years, none of these victims participated in prosecutions of their offenders, nor were penalised for crimes that they had performed while being trafficked. Three further victims from abroad, being repatriated to Estonia, were provided shelter and medical, legal, and financial aid.
However, the report claims that there remains work to do, such as: that efforts have "focused disproportionately" on sex trafficking of women, over labor trafficking of both genders; no trafficking victim has applied for temporary residency in the country since that right was extended to victims in 2007; there were no broad public awareness-raising campaigns; regulators, law enforcement and prosecutors lack experience, training, awareness and jurisdictive powers in the issue, and there is no specialised unit for this issue; no government employees have been investigated for trafficking.
Crime of Estonian residents overseas
In December 2006, it was estimated that residents of Estonia were responsible for 140 robberies of jewellery and watch stores in Finland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Sweden during the last three years. The value of the lost property is estimated to be 25 million Euros. In 2012, Le gang des Estoniens was tried in Paris, France, for robbing several jeweller's shops in the city.
References and sources
- Europol Assesses Baltic Organized Crime Hub, May 24, 2011
- Archer, Clive. New Security Issues in Northern Europe: The Nordic and Baltic States and the ESDP. London: Routledge, 2008. ISBN 0-415-39340-X, ISBN 978-0-415-39340-9. P. 25.
- http://www2.helsinginsanomat.fi/english/archive/news.asp?id=20020423IE11 Estonia's Obtshak crime organisation a major supplier of Finnish illegal drug market. Helsingin Sanomat 23.4.2002
- Eesti Päevaleht February 11, 2002: Kuritegelik sõpruskond keerutab ühiskassa miljoneid by Risto Berendson
- Eesti Ekspress March 12, 2003: Nikolai Tarankov – vaikne valitseja by Raul Ranne
- Eesti Ekspress January 27, 2005: Ühiskassa lahjad päevad by Janar Filippov
- Koovit, Kaja (2008-10-03). "Estonian narcotics market turnover exceeds EEK 5 billion". Baltic Business News. Retrieved 2009-06-14.
- Transparency International: 2008 Corruption Perception Index
- "Crime in Estonia in 2008." Criminal Policy Studies No 10. Pp. 48–52 Tallinn: Ministry of Justice. Criminal Policy Department. 2009.
- Leskinen, Jari. "Finland Report 2002: Organised Pandering and Prostitution in Finland". March 2003. Interpol. Retrieved June 6, 2009.
- Trafficking in Persons Report 2012
- Kuusi kultaryöstöa kahdessa vuodessa, Helsingin Sanomat, December 20, 2006, page A13
- Organised crime situation report 2001 at www.coe.int/ (Council of Europe)