Eesti in brief - 2005-03-02

  • 2005-03-02
A Soviet-designed armored vehicle, the BTR-70 (photo), was returned to the Defense League (Kaitseliit) military base on March 1 by a former member of the voluntary military organization after the league asked the police to investigate its disappearance. The 11-ton machine, which is without weapons and communication systems, is used for training only. It was taken home for repair by two Defense League members in 2002. The volunteers, however, failed to explain the whereabouts of the vehicle when league commanders asked for it to be returned at the end of last year and were expelled from the organization. The case raised concerns about discipline in the Defense League, which is part of the Estonian Defense Forces, and the State Audit Office will likely take over control of the organization.

Tallinn Deputy Mayor Kaupo Reede resigned on March 1 after being caught drunk-driving by police this weekend. Mayor Tonis Palts said he would accept Reede's resignation and acknowledged that his deputy had a responsibility to stand down.

The police detained a 32-year-old man in connection with a bomb threat several hours after registering a call that claimed there were bombs planted in the Russian and Swedish embassies located 100 meters away from one another at Pikk Street in Tallinn. No bombs were found on the premises following a police check.

Newly appointed Foreign Affairs Minister Rein Lang made his first serious statement on an Estonian Radio program on March 1 when he said that the country might damage its chances of getting the border treaty with Russia signed if it didn't attend the May 9 Victory Day celebrations in Moscow. Lang said that the state's attitude to the Russian-led celebrations would have an effect on when and how the border treaty would be signed. The minister added that, while both countries need the border treaty, Estonia needs it "very much." Lang said the Moscow celebrations would be the ultimate opportunity for the nation to make its position clear through the international media.

Nine people, including two Estonian citizens, were found guilty of organizing prostitution in Sweden by a Stockholm court this week. Four were sentenced to imprisonment while the other five defendants received fines. The two Estonians were sentenced to over four years each in jail. After their prison term is completed, they will be deported from Sweden with a lifetime reentry ban.

Estonians have donated 3.87 million kroons (250,000 euros) to the Asian tsunami victims' relief via the Estonian Red Cross, UNICEF Estonia and SOS Children's Village. The Red Cross collected almost 3.42 million kroons, UNICEF Estonia 213,000 kroons and SOS Children's Village 241,000 kroons. The money was used to procure toiletry articles, staple consumer goods and medical supplies such as bandages and antibiotics for tsunami victims, Riina Kabi, the secretary-general of the Estonian Red Cross said. In addition, the Estonian government has allocated some 500,000 kroons to the relief effort.