Plans to open a NATO cyber defense center of excellence in Tallinn took a step forward on Sept. 17. Estonian defense force commander Maj. Gen. Ants Laaneots presented the proposal to Peter C. W. Flory, NATO assistant secretary general for defense investment, who expressed support for the center, which would operate as an international coordination point for cyber defense issues. Meanwhile the Ministry of Justice has begun drafting amendments to the penal code to make cyber crimes more serious offenses. Hackers could be jailed for a maximum of three years instead of the current one-year maximum, while computer fraudsters and virus distributors could be jailed for up to five years.
The Estonian Lutheran church is suing the state for refusing to return a 15th century painting taken from the St. Nicholas Church in Tallinn during the Soviet period. The painting, "Dance of Death" by Bernt Notke, along with several alters and other works of art, was not returned to the church following a decision of a government commission for the restitution and compensation of unlawfully alienated property on Oct. 25 last year. The commission found that although the church building should be returned, the list of other items was not subject to restitution. They now sit in the Niguliste art museum, run by the Ministry of Culture. In its lawsuit, the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church said the items were an inseparable part of its history.
Estonia's obsession with potatoes appears to be dwindling. Statistics show that potato consumption has fallen in the past year, from an average of 105.5 kg per person to 83 kg. Estonia consumed a total of 177,578 tons of the starchy root between July 1, 2006 and June 30, 2007, Statistics Estonia said. Potato imports increased by 18 percent to 24,700 tons, while exports shrank by 41 percent to 212 tons.