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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Estonia Issues Arrest Warrant After Internet Call for Coup

TALLINN, Estonia -- Estonia has issued a European arrest warrant for a Russian citizen accused of calling for the overthrow of the Baltic country's government via the Internet, authorities said Thursday.

A 23-year-old Moscow resident, identified only as Alexei, was charged with "inciting the violent disruption of Estonian independence" in late April, Estonian state prosecution spokeswoman Kristiina Herodes said.

Authorities allege he spread Internet messages on April 28 calling ethnic Russians living in Estonia to join a violent coup -- under the banner of the "Russian Resistance Army" -- and topple Estonia's government.

The appeal took place during the removal of a Soviet war statue from downtown Tallinn, a move that infuriated Russians and led to street riots in the Estonian capital and an organized attack on Estonian web sites.

A joint group of Estonian authorities, including security police and Internet experts, were able to track down the man with the help of IP addresses and his home web page, Herodes said.

Under Estonian law, the charges carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, Herodes said.

She said prosecutors were forced to seek the European arrest warrant, after Russian authorities refused assistance in bringing the suspect to trial in Estonia.

The warrant is valid in the 27-member European Union and other European countries.

"If he enters any of these countries, he will be taken into custody and brought to Tallinn to face a trial," Herodes said.

Ethnic Russians make up one-quarter of Estonia's population of 1.3 million.