Eesti in brief - 2006-10-04

  • 2006-10-04
The Estonian transport company GO Grupp plans to resume a daily passenger train service between Tallinn and St. Petersburg next March. The service was discontinued in 2004 due to low passenger numbers, but agreement on re-launching the service has been reached with Russia's October Railway. Trains will depart from Tallinn every morning, GO Grupp chief executive Aare Kilp said. Previously, trains departed in the evening, which proved to be an unpopular schedule with passengers who did not enjoy passing border checkpoints at night. A delegation from St. Petersburg visited Tallinn last week, and hailed the resumption of the service between the two cities as instrumental in promoting tourism. Hundreds of St. Petersburg residents, who would like to spend the weekend in Tallinn, said they would find a train trip more comfortable than traveling by bus.

The Union of Estonian Architects (UEA) will boycott a competition to design Tallinn's new city administrative building. The UEA said it would not appoint representatives to the competition jury panel and called on its members not to take part because the union disagreed with the chosen site and the selection process. The selected plot of land, near the Tallinn port, is also under consideration as the potential location of a new opera house. The UEA expressed its protest at the way the contest had been handled so far and called for a professional survey to be conducted first, followed by a broader public discussion. Tallinn's city hall is currently a functional brown brick building on Freedom Square.

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet pushed the idea of a visa-free travel arrangements with the United States during a meeting with visiting U.S. senators on Oct. 1. Meeting with Republican senators Bill Frist and Nel Martinez in Tallinn Paet raised the topic of visa-free travel and said that terrorism was not a problem in Estonia. "As an ally in the fight against terrorism, we are part of the solution, not the problem. Estonia is an ally to the United States in NATO and we are together in Afghanistan and Iraq," Paet said. The foreign minister told the senators that Estonia's job shortage had been replaced by a shortage of labor.

Some 26 Estonian citizens are serving time in Russian prisons, the Estonian daily Eesti Paevaleht reported citing the Russian newspaper Trud. The Estonians were convicted of crimes committed on Russian territory. Nine of the prisoners are serving sentences in the Pskov region, five in Moscow, three in St. Petersburg, and the rest in other regions of Russia, a spokesman for the federal penitentiary service said. Data does not reveal how many of the 26 citizens are ethnic Estonians and how many are Russian-speakers.