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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Estonia Denies Role In IRA Weapons Sale

Estonian police Tuesday dismissed press reports that the Irish Republican Army twice purchased weapons from Russian arms dealers in Tallinn over the last two years.

The report, which first appeared in the British newspaper The Daily Mail last month, cited British special detectives as saying "arms from the old Soviet bloc countries, especially Russia and East Germany, have been purchased by representatives of the terror group. In one instance it involved meetings between arms dealers in Estonia, and an agreement whereby guns passed through a third country, in this case Hungary."

According to the Estonian weekly Eesti Ekspress, the first meeting took place 18 months ago, and the second meeting was a year ago.

Helle Sagris, a spokeswoman for the Estonian Security Police Board, said Tuesday that since the meetings had taken place so long ago, an investigation would be needed to determine whether arms had been bought. "But it is highly unlikely that any weapons reached the IRA," she said.

The Daily Mail reported that the weapons acquired in Tallinn were part of a "formidable armory" brought to mainland Britain during the 17-month cease-fire that ended recently when the IRA detonated a bomb in London's Docklands area.

The Eesti Ekspress speculated that the alleged sales could be linked with the seizure of 15,000 Makarov pistols by Estonian authorities at Tallinn's port in April 1992. "The boxes were marked as sport pistols, but when they were opened we discovered they contained combat pistols," Sagris said. "These pistols were confiscated and never left Estonia."

The pistols had been purchased by a British firm called Kenford Enterprises, Ltd., closed in 1994 for suspected dealings with the IRA.