Diplomat Resigns in Light of Anonymous Accusation

Estonia's charge d'affaires in Belarus, Harry Lahtein, submitted his resignation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after accusations of sexual harassment.

Numerous media sources received an anonymous letter, which contained 16 party photos of Lahtein in the company of young women. One of the photos, featuring the diplomat smoking a cigar with his hand on the breast of a young woman, has been published in the Estonian press. The letter's author, a 20-year-old from Minsk, said she met Lahtein a year ago and that she was one of several victims of sexual harassment.

Postimees reported that Lahtein wrote in his resignation letter that the erupting scandal was a provocation which could be considered an attack against Estonia's entire diplomatic corps.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has opened an investigation with regard to the accusations made in the anonymous letter," said the ministry's press chief, Kersti Luha, to ERR. "We would like to draw attention to the fact that the anonymous letter was revealed in the media."

Lahtein allegedly provided Schengen visas to the letter's author and other women, four of whom are named.

From 2006 to 2008, Lahtein led the Estonian embassy in Georgia where his work was recognized by an award presented by Georgia's president, Mikhail Saakashvili. In the 1990s Lahtein was employed by KaPo, the Estonian Security Police.

Lahtein's departure will not leave a diplomatic vacuum in Belarus since a new diplomat was already scheduled to begin work next week in Minsk.


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