Harry Lahtein says the scandalous party photos that provoked his resignation were tampered with. The former Estonian diplomat in Belarus resigned August 24 after anonymous accusations of sexual harassment.
An anonymous letter sent to media contained 16 party photos of Lahtein in the company of young women. One of the photos, featuring the diplomat smoking a cigar with his hand on the breast of a young woman, has been published in the Estonian press.
"As you can see, my arm isn't two meters long, so that it could reach around and between everything. Anyone can take a photo and rip it out of its context," said Lahtein on ETV.
The former diplomat said the local KGB is "clearly" behind the accusations.
"I have no doubts about this. When I came back from summer vacation, then my acquaintances in Belarus contacted me and said that many of them have been called in by the local KGB. They were thoroughly interrogated, some of them for as long as 10 hours," said Lahtein. "[The KGB] also made pushy proposals for collaborating, promising to ruin their lives if they refused. Many were even threatened to be sent to psychiatric hospitals," he said.
Despite the friction between Belarus and Russia, the diplomat asserts that the countries' intelligence agencies still work hand in hand. Therefore, he said it is possible that the scandal was organized by Russia.
"I am very sad that things took this course, causing groundless suffering for my family," said Lahtein.
The scandal has now died down in the Estonian political arena, but media coverage hinted that the diplomat led a secretly indulgent lifestyle.
"It's true that I went out often in the evenings. I interacted with various people, and thanks to that I got a clear picture of the country," said Lahtein.
The former official said diplomats come in two types: some lead a public life and focus on office work; others immerse themselves into local life and make connections in every corner of society.
The letter's author, a 20-year-old from Minsk, said she met Lahtein a year ago and that she was one of several victims of sexual harassment. Lahtein was cleared of allegations that he provided Schengen visas to the letter's author and other women.