Baltics in Brief

  • 2000-06-08
SUSPECTED BOMB MAN CAUGHT: Police in Tallinn arrested a man at about noon on June 3 accused of making a bomb threat to the Stockmann department store in Tallinn May 31. A police spokesman said the accused faces a civil suit for 200,000 kroons ($12,000). The arrested man is suspected of having made a bomb threat to the Stockmann department store at 7:19 p.m. on May 30, when an Estonian-speaking man called the emergency number and said there was a bomb in the store. A bomb squad dispatched to the store found no bomb and no explosion followed.

PROMISE TO RESTORE CONFIDENCE: The popular Liberal Union which convened an extraordinary congress in Vilnius last weekend pledged to give a new hope to the Lithuanian people. The leader of party, Vilnius Mayor Rolandas Paksas said that liberalism was the unique chance to do away with wading through a dangerous quagmire in an effort to liberate a human being and society, and convert the state into what was called Western culture democracy. The congress of Liberal Union adopted a resolution binding the Union's council to approve party candidates for general elections, amended the party regulations, but refused to change the name of organisation until the elections.

DISCO UP IN SMOKE: A fire consumed the interior of a popular cafe and all-night discoteque in central Tallinn in the early hours of June 5. No one was injured in the accident. The fire service was informed of the fire in the Metropol Cafe in the first floor of an eight-story block in the central Vabaduse Square at 5:30a.m. Tallinn fire service and rescue board spokesman Priit Laos said. The discoteque was crowded when the fire broke out. Security people took everyone to safety and no one was injured. The Metropol's first floor was fully gutted. Also the first floor cafe was damaged by smoke and water, Laos said.

SETTING THE RATES: Finance ministers of the Baltic Sea countries and the Nordic states decided at a roundtable in Tallinn this week to establish closer ties between their ministries to fight against tax evasion. Participants in the meeting, held in the Estonian capital June 1 and June 2, also decided to exchange information to avoid unjust competition among different countries in the area of tax policy. The finance ministers decided to hold the next similar meeting in Denmark in 2001.

THREATENING TO USE TROOPS: Latvia's admission to NATO may prompt the deployment of 300, 000 troops in Belarus near the Latvian border, Russian State Duma defense commitee deputy chairman Alexei Arbatov said. He made his statement Monday, June 5, addressing participants of the conference "Latvia-Russia in Common Europe in the 21st century," held in the Latvian seaside resort Jurmala. Russian representatives stressed that EU membership could be an alternative to Latvia's membership in NATO. Latvia's admission to the EU, although likely to cause economic difficulties for Russia, would not affect security, they noted.

EXPOSED AND HAPPY: Economy Vice-Minister Gediminas Miskinis has told a news conference June 5 that appearance of Lithuania at global exhibition Expo 2000 was a success, and its pavilion enjoyed a wide attention of visitors. Miskinskis said a bright-yellow pavilion of Lithuania attracted the first visitors. On June 1, some 7,500 visitors came to see the pavilion in a few hours, and on June 2, some 29,000 persons. Miskinis said that visitors were not disappointed with the exposition, either. This is the first time Lithuania has joined an exhibition of such scale and the first exposition arranged in an individual pavilion of a country.

OPPOSES VOTING RIGHTS: Latvia should not grant voting rights for noncitizens in local elections, President Vaira Vike-Freiberga said in an interview on Latvian state radio June 5. The president pointed out that Latvia should not "hasten such serious things." The president emphasized no noncitizen is forbidden to undergo naturalization and become Latvian citizens and thereby receive voting rights in any election.

LITHUANIA IN FRONT: In a letter for Foreign Minister Algirdas Saudargas, famous U.S. political analyst and member of a center for strategic and international studies, Zbigniew Brzezinski, singled out Slovenia, Slovakia and Lithuania as front-runners in the NATO membership race and stressed the need for proceeding with enlargement efforts, the press service of foreign ministry reported. The US political analyst stated the western countries must be geared up to admission of all current applicant countries but this process should be based on individual preparedness of a country.