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Estonia military intelligence head sacked on spying allegations

TALLINN, February 26, (RIA Novosti) - Commander of Estonian Defense Forces, General-Major Ants Laaneots relieved on Tuesday the head of the military intelligence branch from his duties following allegations of spying on government officials.

The General Staff of the Defense Forces said Monday that Major Riho Uhtegi has been transferred to cadre reserve "due to service demands," but experts believe his dismissal is directly related to recent reports in the media that the Estonian military intelligence had been involved in "illegal activities."

Estonian newspaper Eesti Ekspress reported last week that military intelligence officers have been spying on defense ministry's staff and made attempts to recruit informers among officers, politicians and journalists.

General Laaneots and Defense Minister Jurgen Ligi have ordered an investigation into the activities of the country's military intelligence, demanding the personal relations between defense ministry officials be examined.

Eesti Ekspress has been published since September 1989 and is the flagship of Estonian investigating journalism. The journalists at Eesti Ekspress have won the investigative journalism award - the Bonnier Award - on numerous occasions.

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