Eesti in brief - 2004-12-01

  • 2004-12-01
Electricity prices in Estonia will increase by an average of 10 percent starting March 1, 2005, the state-owned power engineering monopoly Eesti Energia announced this week. The company dropped the idea of setting the monthly ampere fee to its clients. The exact size of the price rise will be different for private and corporate consumers.

The Education Ministry has recalled for additional deliberation a bill that would allow pupils of Russian-language primary schools to seek citizenship after passing the civics course taught in their school. Maie Soll, an adviser on non-Estonian language tuition at the ministry, said the amendments to the citizenship law would not be abandoned, and work would continue on them. The bill sought to make successful completion of the civics course equal to passing the citizenship exam, while not changing the mandatory exam's procedure in Estonian.

Athens Olympics silver medal winner Juri Jaanson has been named citizen of the year. Population Affairs Minister Paul-Eerik Rummo, who handed the title to Jaanson, a well-known Estonian rower, pointed out that Jaanson had accomplished his outstanding athletic achievements despite a hearing disorder.

The number of soldiers in Afghanistan may increase from the current 12 to 25 if Parliament approves the government's plan to extend its contribution to the NATO operation. Estonians' mission to Afghanistan is scheduled to wind up in March 2005, but the government wants to prolong it, along with the mission in Kosovo, until the end of 2006. Parliament will cast it vote regarding the plan in December.

Following the change of power in Tallinn, the rating of the Center Party in November has fallen from 16 percent to 13 percent, the Emor pollster announced this week. The Reform Party had the highest rating in November, with 16 percent of the populace's support. The Social Democrats and Pro Patria Union managed to gain points and had 8 percent each. Res Publica had 7 percent support, and the minor coalition partner the People's Union had six.

Staff at Estonia's newest prison in Tartu have prevented yet another attempt to smuggle drugs into the penitentiary by mail parcel this week. The parcel addressed to an inmate contained two toothpaste tubes in which someone had hidden three drinking straws filled with hashish, director of the Tartu prison, Andrus Kore, said. The parcel was addressed to an inmate identified as Aleksei, born in 1978.

Police have detained a 33-year-old male suspected of a unique method of fraud. The suspect reportedly used an original scheme whereby he called a retailer in a shopping center and presented himself as the owner of the nearby shop in need of cash - usually 1,000 kroons (65 euros) - 3,000 kroons - for a short period of time. The perpetrator then went to the shop and, posing as a courier from the neighbor store, collected the money. The police said the scheme worked several times in Rapla, Tallinn and Parnu.