Special services of Estonia and combat of crime
After the Soviet annexation, all the Estonian structures of state, including special services, were destroyed and their personnel executed. After regaining its independence, Estonia had to recreate those structures. Of course, people who had worked for the Soviet services could not be used and there were practically no people with this kind of experience in Estonia. Therefore, great difficulties were encountered and mistakes made in creating security services.
Today, the special services of Estonia include:
- The Security Police, founded on the basis of law, acting by its Statutes and subordinated to the Ministry of Interior. The Security Police is responsible for counterintelligence, investigation of offences against the state, corruption, organised crime and large-scale economic crimes;
- Information Service (foreign intelligence);
- Government Communication Service;
- 2nd unit of the Staff of Defence Forces (military intelligence).
The law on persecution and search activities entitles, besides the police and security police, only the customs, frontier guards, military police and prison board to undertake such activities within the limits of their competence.
The activities of all special services are co-ordinated by the head of the State Chancellery.
There exists a draft law on special services. The law prescribes the structure, interrelations, functions, subordination, rights and obligations of all the special services of Estonia. The draft is still worked on and will be presented to the Riigikogu in near future.
Riigikogu has a committee responsible for supervising the activities of the security police in the ODA. Parliamentary control over all special services is vested in this committee.
As crime-related statistics was classified information during the occupation, we do not know the concrete numbers. Street crime was relatively low. Corruption among the party elite, Soviet nomenclature and red tape was high. Militia controlled street and household crime quite efficiently. Malfeasance and corruption were greater problems, and the KGB was responsible for combating this type of crime. In order to investigate a case of corruption that involved a person included in the nomenclature, warrant from the corresponding party unit had to be obtained. Not infrequently, the culprits were just subjected to punishments by the party, e.g. reprimanded or transferred to another post.
After the re-establishment of independence, the number of crimes has increased due to several reasons:
- a slight deterioration of the economic situation amongst certain strata of the population;
- increase of unemployment, especially amongst non-Estonians, who have lost their well-paid jobs in the military industrial complex and cannot find a new job because they cannot speak Estonian;
- uncertainty of the position of Soviet immigrants . they have lost their privileged social status;
- abolishment of Soviet and creation of Estonian structures of legal protection and a period of ineffective operations connected with this situation;
- opening of borders, better perspectives for certain types of crime, etc.
The crime rates increased until 1994, after which a small decrease followed, while the number of certain serious criminal offences (homicide and rape) somewhat decreased in 1994-1996, other types of offences such as drug-related crimes are the upward trend. The number of economic crimes is high too. Their investigation is often very slow due to low quality and lack of experience of investigating staff. There have been some corruption-related scandals too.
During the years of totalitarian occupation, the state and people of Estonia suffered serious damages. All of the state institutions were abolished and replaced with authorities of the Soviet occupation. About one-fourth of the pre-war population was killed, deported to Russia or escaped to the West. Ethnic purges altered the ethnographical composition of the population . the percentage of Estonians dropped from 97% to 64%. Agriculture was destroyed and traditional rural lifestyle was ruined due to collectivisation. Economic development was not in concord with the needs of Estonia. Compared with neighbouring countries, e.g. Finland and Sweden, with which Estonia. s economy was comparable before World War I, economy was sent spinning back some ten years. Perhaps the gravest consequence is the deterioration of moral and ethic values of the people due to the communist ideology.
Thanks to the favorable course of events and the stamina of the people and their leaders, the reign of occupation terminated and Estonia. s independence was re-established without victims. Riots and bloodshed were avoided also after restoring the legal order and government structures. Soviet special services were liquidated without undue excesses, however, most of the archives and records of them were taken away to Russia. Many leaders and collaborators of those services also departed to Russia, probably leaving a secret net of agents behind, subordinated to the corresponding Russian services.
Estonian special services were practically built from scratch with many difficulties encountered on the way due to lack of specialists and experiences. Today, these difficulties have mostly been overcome.
The period of occupations and the crimes of the communist totalitarian regime are investigated by many public and social organisations of Estonia. They issue publications and reports, organise exhibitions and establish museums.
A few criminal cases have been initiated with respect to crimes against humanity. However, their investigation is complicated, as many of the documents and culprits are missing.
Today, Estonia has restored constitutional order and all state structures. In all major respects, Estonia is a stable and open society that guarantees fundamental freedoms and democracy. However, lot of time and effort is needed to be able to overcome the consequences of the occupation in all realms of life and to combat economic backlog.