A court handed down a suspended jail sentence for bribe-taking to Kristjan Malk, former head of the IT service of the State Chancellery's information systems and organization department. The court gave Malk a conditional sentence of two-and-a-half years with an 18-month probation period. He must also repay the 121,000 kroons (7,700 euros) he accepted as illegal benefit. The company which gave the bribe, Makato Eesti OU, was fined 160,000 kroons. Prosecutor Lauri Aasmann said the investigation had established that Malk used a car leased by the computer selling company Makato Eesti for more than two years and in return had the state agency buy computer hardware from the same company. In 2003, Makato allowed Malk to become the user of a motor vehicle that cost 309,000 kroons.
Marko Mihkelson, vice chairman of the foreign affairs committee, handed in a draft statement by Parliament titled "In Support of Democracy in Belarus," signed by 54 deputies. In the draft, lawmakers expressed their concern over the situation in Belarus ahead of presidential elections on March 19. It says the regime of President Alexander Lukashenko has further curbed democratic freedoms ahead of the polls, as a result of which free media has ceased to exist and several political leaders have been jailed. MP said it is necessary to boost aid for the democratization of Belarus, building up a civil society and ensuring independence of the media.
Last month police searched the premises of the Kohuke food company and the Idea AD advertising firm as part of an investigation into whether a curd snack ad constituted a violation of the ban on political outdoor advertising ahead of elections. Investigators wanted to see the contracts for the K-kohuke curd snack street posters, which the advertising agency previously refused to show Parliament's anti-corruption committee. Security police are trying to establish whether the K-kohuke curd snack ad commissioned by a company belonging to the Center Party's long-time sponsor Oliver Kruuda was linked with the party. The ads for the new product, similar to the Center Party's logo in color and style - an uppercase letter K - appeared on the streets ahead of local polls last October, when political outdoor advertising was prohibited.
A Russian helicopter violated airspace above Lake Peipsi on several occasions on Feb. 18, the Border Guard said. The MI-8 helicopter illegally crossed the control line above the border lake at an altitude of 200 meters. Estonian radar monitoring personnel recorded the first violation of the temporary line of control in a direction from Russia to Estonia at 11:24 a.m. The helicopter flew 300 meters into Estonian territory and turned back to Russia at 11:25. The Russian liaison officer informed the Estonian side that the helicopter belongs to the Russian customs service. Since joining NATO in April 2004 Russia has committed numerous airspace violations, Estonian border guards claim, though Russia Defense Ministry officials deny any wrongdoing.