TALLINN, March 5 Estonia denied on Wednesday
that a leaked telephone call showed that its foreign minister
had blamed opponents of Ukraine's deposed president for sniper
killings during last month's unrest - as Russian media have
The Baltic state acknowledged that the audio recording of a
conversation between Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and European
Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was authentic, but
rejected the way some have interpreted it.
The recording, published on YouTube, was picked up by
Russian state television and was the top item on state news
Rossyia-24 state TV dubbed parts into Russian and suggested
the EU now had proof that sniper shootings at police and
protesters had been carried out by the same people.
At least 88 people were killed in gunbattles between police
and anti-government protesters in late February in Ukraine's
worst violence since Soviet times. Each side has blamed the
other for using snipers.
In the leaked audio, Paet, speaking in imperfect English,
says a doctor identified only as Olga had told him on a visit to
Kiev that snipers may have come from the opposition.
"The same Olga told that, well, all the evidence shows that
people who were killed by snipers from both sides among
policemen and then people from the street," Paet says.
"So that there is now stronger and stronger understanding
that behind the snipers it was not Yanukovich, but it was
somebody from the new coalition," he said, referring to the
former opposition to deposed President Viktor Yanukovich.
In a statement, the Estonian government denied Paet viewed
the opposition as being involved in the sniping.
"Foreign Minister Paet was giving an overview of what he had
heard the previous day in Kiev and expressed concern over the
situation on the ground," it said.
"We reject the claim that Paet was giving an assessment of
the opposition's involvement in the violence.
A spokeswoman for Ashton declined to comment on the leaked
The Russian Foreign Ministry has not reacted officially, but
Itar-Tass news agency quoted a source at the ministry on
Wednesday as saying that Moscow was "surprised" that the EU was
not commenting on the intercepted phone chat.
(Reporting by David Mardiste in Tallin; Additional reporting by
Niklas Pollard in Stockholm; Justyna Pawlak in Brussels and
Alexei Anishchuk in Moscow; Writing by Alistair Scrutton;
Editing by Alistair Lyon and Sonya Hepinstall)