Estonia could ban Russian officials from Schengen over pilot arrest

As the Estonian parliament on Tuesday voted 'Yes' to a petition in which Russia is called upon to release illegally imprisoned Ukrainian fighter pilot Nadiya Savchenko, it may impose a unilateral ban on 29 Russian officials tied to the case from entering the Schengen zone, reported EUobserver.

Savchenko was abducted two years ago by Russia-linked forces in Ukraine and taken to Russia. She faces 25 years in prison if convicted.

Even though the Estonian parliament motion is not binding on the government, Estonian MP Eerik-Niiles Kross told EUobserver that “there’s a good chance” Estonia will ban the Russian officials by using Schengen.

If one Schengen member state red-flags a name in the Schengen Information System all other members are obliged to deny them entry, the online newspaper reported.

The "Savchenko list" of officials potentially to be barred from the EU notably includes Russian president Vladimir Putin, however Kross downplayed the chance of Putin being prevented entry in the 22-country free-travel zone.

According to EUobserver, the motion was initiated by Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, a senior MP and former Minister of Foreign Affairs.

“The Estonian Parliament’s petition is one way of displaying the fact that we support Ukraine, that we want Nadiya Savchenko freed, and that we want sanctions placed upon the Russian officials responsible for her imprisonment and illegal trial,” Pentus-Rosimannus told Estonia's ERR about the initiative.

On March 9 Latvia called for "the immediate release" of Nadiya Savchenko.

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