Updated: Estonia’s ambassador to France summoned back, criminal investigation launched

Clyde Kull, the Estonian ambassador to France, has been summarily recalled from his duties; the Estonian Prosecutor’s Office said it had launched a criminal investigation against the former ambassador.

The order to call the ambassador back was signed by the Estonian president, Kersti Kaljulaid, on 20 May. In addition to France, Kull was representing Estonia as an ambassador in Monaco, Tunisia and at the Paris-based OECD and UNESCO.

The Estonian foreign ministry confirmed the recall of Kull from his duties in Paris, but declined to give further comments at this stage, citing a criminal investigation by the country’s prosecuting service.

A spokesperson of the Estonian Public Prosecutor’s Office told the Estonian newspaper Eesti Päevaleht that Kull was “suspected of misappropriation” and “violating the requirements for the handling of state secrets and classified information”. “It is a preliminary suspicion that may change during the investigation,” the spokesperson said.

Kull denies all allegations

According to the paper, Kull’s access to the state secrets that requires a special permission, was also revoked.

In a statement sent to Estonian World on behalf of Clyde Kull, his defence attorney, Aivar Pilv, confirmed that procedural steps related to the preliminary suspicions against Clyde Kull had been carried out.

“Clyde Kull continues to fully cooperate with the relevant authorities. Clyde Kull denies the allegations put forward to him. To his knowledge, he has never intentionally committed any of the acts that he has been accused of,” the statement continued.

Clyde Kull (right) presenting his credentials to the French president Emmanuel Macron at the Élysée Palace on 10 December 2019. Photo by Chislain Mariette.

The former Estonian foreign minister and a current MP, Urmas Reinsalu, told the Estonian Public Broadcasting that no problems concerning Clyde Kull had arisen during his term of office. 

“Clyde Kull has been a crucial figure of the foreign ministry, and never once did problems of this type arise,” Reinsalu said. “This is an unpleasant surprise and I hope that in the investigations these things will find some kind of reasonable explanation and the presumption of innocence in the country must apply.” 

Studied in Moscow

Clyde Kull, born in Võru, Estonia, in 1959, studied international relations at the Moscow State University until 1985. In 1987, he obtained his doctorate there. From 1985 to 1991, he worked in the department of international relations of the Soviet All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions.

When Estonia regained independence in 1991, Kull entered his country’s diplomatic service. From 1990 to 1991, he was an advisor to the Estonian delegation in negotiations with the Soviet Union in the field of military and security policy. From 1991 to 1992, he worked in the political department of the Estonian foreign ministry. He was also appointed an Estonian representative to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in Vienna.

Clyde Kull presenting his credentials to UNESCO’s director-general Audrey Azoulay in Paris in 2019. Photo by UNESCO.

A long diplomatic career

From 1992 to 1996, he was the Estonian ambassador to Belgium and Estonia’s permanent representative to NATO. From 1992 to 1997, Kull also represented Estonia in the European Union in Brussels.

Kull was the Estonian ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva from 2000 to 2004; from 2004 to 2008, he served as Estonia’s ambassador to Germany. From 2012 to 2019, he was the deputy permanent representative of Estonia to the European Union.

In 2019, Kull became Estonia’s ambassador to France; he resided in Paris.

Clyde Kull is married to Olga Kull and has two children.

Cover: Clyde Kull in 2012 at an presidential reception in Tallinn, Estonia. Photo by Arno Mikkor.

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