Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and Estonian President Arnold Ruutel enjoyed a lengthy audience together on July 4. The British monarch and Estonian head of state met at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, the queen's official residence in Scotland. The aim of Ruutel's visit was to make preparations for the queen's upcoming visit to the Baltic states. When she tours the region in October, she will become the first British monarch to have visited the Baltics. Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus also enjoyed an audience at Holyroodhouse.
Organizers of Tallinn's annual gay pride parade will hold a festival from Aug. 7 to 13, with the highlight being a pride parade through the city on Aug. 12. But this year, Tallinn Pride will feature a film festival, lectures, a sports day, a young politician's debate and a family picnic. The main event will be a march through Tallinn, the third time such a parade has been held. Organizers hope to raise awareness of the inequalities gay couples face in Estonia. The festival comes after weeks of controversy surrounding gay minorities in the Baltics, especially in Riga where the city is still debating over where participants should be allowed to march.
Estonian MP and former mayor of Tallinn Robert Lepikson died on July 1 from a suspected stroke. During his career, Lepikson served as interior minister and mayor of Tallinn, and was most recently a sitting member of the People's Union party in Parliament. Lepikson, who was in the northern town of Rakvere for a motor rally, complained on June 30 about feeling bad and went to his hotel to rest. He was found dead the next morning. Lepikson was born in Tallinn on June 14, 1952. He graduated in 1980 as an electronics engineer from the then Tallinn Polytechnical Institute. His early career includes jobs at the Tallinn audio cassette factory and the metal export company EMEX. Later on he served as chancellor of the Defense Ministry and mayor of Tallinn. Lepikson held the interior portfolio in the Mart Siimann-led government in 1997-98 and was governor of the southern Voru County. He was elected to parliament in 2003 from the electoral district comprising the Valga, Voru and Polva counties. Lepikson has been a member of the now discontinued Coalition Party, Center Party and lastly the People's Union.
The Sikorsky helicopter manufacturer rejected claims that a rotor fault was to blame for a crash that killed 14 people near Tallinn last year. The U.S.-based company said its tests showed the rotor servo could not have caused the helicopter to spin-out and nose-dive into the ocean on Aug. 10. The company was responding to accusations by the Estonian investigating commission, which has ruled out pilot error or weather conditions as contributing factors. A commission spokesman said further investigations would have to be carried out.