The construction of a new synagogue seating 200 began in downtown Tallinn last week. The temple for Estonia's 3,000-strong Jewish community will replace the one destroyed in 1944. In addition to religious rituals, the new glass and concrete synagogue will also offer kosher food and a museum. The project is partly sponsored by the U.S. Rohr Family Foundation.
The Estonia ferry that sank in September 1994 was not carrying explosives, according to an investigation conducted by the Swedish government. The ship had, however, been used to transport military electronic equipment in preceding weeks. Over 850 people died in the tragedy, which was reportedly caused by the ship's bow ramp failure.
President Arnold Ruutel, along with Ambassador to Poland Aivo Orav and Ambassador to Israel Marina Kaljurand, will attend a ceremony dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the Auschwitz concentration camp's liberation on Jan.27.
The Defense Force cannot accept about 50 percent of young men eligible for military service due to poor health, the Maaleht weekly reported. Only 10 percent of the conscripts can boast perfect health. Psychological problems along with osteoarthroathy (bone and joint diseases) are the main reasons for rejection. In 2001, approximately 30 percent of conscripts were deemed unfit for health reasons.
Registered Tallinn residents will choose where to place the much-discussed Freedom Monument in a public poll this week. The vote has been widely criticized for being nonrepresentative and for its incorrect wording: "Should the monument be put in Vabaduse Square or somewhere else?" The poll will also serve as testing ground for the ID-card based electronic election system to be introduced in the autumn 2005's local elections.
Police arrested three Estonian men aged 30 to 34 in connection with a hidden domestic drug lab in Harju county last week. The lab was reportedly used for the production of GHB, or gamma hydroxybutyrate, a club drug. The police recovered about 10 liters of GHB from the lab. The suspects may face up to 15 years in prison for the mass production and handling of illegal drugs.