Russian spy Artem Zinchenko, who was sentenced to five years in prison in Estonia in 2017 for cooperating with Russia’s Military Intelligence Directorate (GRU), and then returned to Russia via a prisoner exchange, has fled back to Estonia, according to reports by Yahoo News and Eesti Päevaleht.
Zinchenko said that he decided to flee Russia long before Vladimir Putin’s September 21 mobilization was announced. First his wife and children left, then he sold his apartment in St. Petersburg, and followed them. According to him, his decision to flee was motivated by the Kremlin's brutality both at home and abroad, as well as Estonia's humane treatment of him, despite the fact that he had been arrested in that country as an enemy agent.
“A terrible situation occurred on February 24. It is the worst scenario imaginable, and that's not only because my relatives live there [in Ukraine], but also because of the huge number of innocent victims,” Zinchenko said.
Zinchenko claims that the Estonian special services did not assist him in organizing his escape. At the same time, according to him, Russian security forces had no time to follow him after the start of the war.
“We've never had a case like this,” Alexander Toots, head of Estonian counterintelligence, told Yahoo News. “I don't think anybody has.”
“A lot of Russian special services officers are against the war. They consider it a crime against Russia and the Russian people. We would be more than happy to talk to anyone who is looking for a new place to live,” Toots added.