More fractures developed in the Estonian parliamentary roundtable of the five political parties attempting to elect a common president.The Center Party said it would not attend a scheduled roundtable meeting, but instead announced it would continue talks with the People's Union, whose favored candidate is the incumbent Arnold Ruutel. Center Party leader Edgar Savisaar said he was close to signing an agreement with the People's Union to back Ruutel, a move that would effectively decide the upcoming presidential elections in Ruutel's favor. Both the Center Party and the People's Union joined forces to elect Ruutel at the last election. Meanwhile, Ruutel's office said a recent medical check-up showed there were no problems with the ageing president's health.
A university student was reported kidnapped while visiting the Russian province of Dagestan. Estonian authorities were alerted when the father of the woman, 19-year old Aminat Mahmudova, asked for their assistance in trying to help her. Her father, Apandi Mahmudov, told the Foreign Ministry that his daughter was taken from an apartment in the provincial capital Makhachkala by four armed men on Aug. 3. It is believed the young woman, a student of Tallinn University of Technology, was taken away to be married. A spokeswoman from the Foreign Ministry said they had sent a diplomatic cable to Russian authorities requesting immediate assistance. Dagestan, located in south-western Russia on the Caspian Sea, is home to a small community of Estonians.
Buckingham Palace announced the official dates for the much-anticipated royal Baltic tour by Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip. The royal couple will visit Lithuania between Oct. 17 and 18, before heading to Latvia from Oct.18 to 19, then progressing to Estonia from Oct. 19 to 20. The presidents from each of the Baltic countries visited Queen Elizabeth in the U.K. last month to make preparations for the tour. The queen's visit will mark the first time a British monarch has visited the region.
A total of 83 people perished in fires during the first half of 2006, with blazes claiming the most lives during the night. Of the victims, 57 were men and 26 women. Fires caused by careless smoking at home claimed 25 lives and fires caused by out of control grass fires claimed four lives. Last year, 71 people were killed in fires during the January-June period, down from 88 in 2004.