Tallinn City Court on March 15 partially upheld a legal complaint filed by Center Party Chairman Edgar Savisaar against the business daily Aripaev. The court found that the newspaper had published false information in two articles in February 2003 concerning the insurance bill for Savisaar's real estate. The court, however, did find statements alleging that insurance businessman Leonid Apananski paid the Center Party PR campaign bills as false. The court ruled that the daily would have to pay Savisaar's trial expenses of 4,100 euros, but rejected the plaintiff's initial demands of one million kroons in compensation for moral damage.
The so-called rat king, a very rare natural phenomenon of several rats living with their tails entangled, was discovered by a farmer in his barn in the Voru county in southern Estonia in January, regional newspaper Vorumaa Teataja reported. The farmer, unaware of the importance of the find, killed the 16 rats and left their bodies hanging on the barn wall. Tartu University zoology museum took the rats' bodies to study after a scientist discovered the find. Only 58 rat kings have been found in the last 400 years.
Border guards received 12 new snowmobiles to patrol the country's eastern border. It was the first purchase funded by the Schengen Facility program, aimed at building up EU's extended borders. The two-seat vehicles, along with additional equipment, cost a little over 121,000 euros.
The government applied for 19.6 million euros from the EU Solidarity Fund as compensation for severe damage caused by storms and flooding in January this year. The total damage is estimated at 47.8 million euros, while damage to the country's public sector is estimated to be around 19.6 million euros. The government agreed to allocate 7.6 million euros in aid to regions affected.
Russia will organize this year's sea-rescue drill by Estonian, Finnish and Russian border guards. Vladimir Pronichev, head of the Russian Border Guard, said that the joint exercise would take place this June in Russian waters. He added that the exercise would involve mock rescue operations at sea, and help to prevent cross-border crime. The trilateral exercises have regularly taken place since 1995. Estonia will be responsible for organization in 2006.
Israeli President Moshe Katsav may visit the Baltic countries this year, according to Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus. A representative of President Arnold Ruutel said that Katsav could also come to Estonia, adding that it was a matter of negotiations. Prime Minister Juhan Parts met Katsav during his visit to Israel in November. The Israeli president would arrive in the Baltics this fall.
Members of the parliamentary group with ties to China have refrained from offering an opinion about the anti-secession law adopted by China's parliament. The law authorizes the use of force against Taiwan, if the latter should declare independence. Group chairman Peeter Kreitzberg said that events had to be followed with caution. "We are trying to find out more about the decision," Kreitzberg said.