Six people were killed early on Dec. 4 when a fire destroyed a building in Tallinn's Kopli district, local media and officials said. According to the Rescue Department, an emergency call was received at 12:18 a.m. and the flames were put out by 2:30 a.m. Of the eight persons found in the building, six had died and two survived, with one requiring medical help. The crumbling house had been used as a squat by homeless people, neighbors and officials told the press. According to preliminary reports, the victims probably suffocated as thick smoke filled the two-story wooden building.
Estonia opened an embassy in the Internet-based virtual world Second Life on Dec. 4, the third country to do so. "Second Life's popularity as an alternative environment for interaction has grown rapidly, which is why we decided to establish an embassy there," said Foreign Minister Urmas Paet. The virtual embassy has a conference room, exhibition room, reception hall and a technology room, where Estonia's achievements as an e-nation are introduced. Visitors to the embassy will hear current news read by an Estonian hound.
As The Baltic Times was going to press Dec. 5, the opposition Center Party was due to hold a rally of senior citizens in front of the parliament building to protest tax hikes planned by the government, which are seen to substantially worsen the life of older people. The demonstrators are going to demand an extra rise in pensions from the new year, the party said. Ironically reports of the planned rally coincided with news that the Center Party-led government of Tallinn wants to raise its own members' salaries by 16.9 percent in the new year; the pay rise is subject to approval by the city council.
The Security Police have declared the mayor of the northeastern town of Kivioli a formal suspect in a bribery case, BNS reported on Nov. 29. According to the Eesti Paevaleht daily, in May Mayor Voldemar Trumm asked the chair of the Environmental Investment Center's supervisory board for a bribe of 300,000 kroons. Police later mounted a sting operation in which the mayor accepted 100,000 kroons. If convicted, he faces a jail term of up to five years. The 61-year-old mayor has tendered his resignation, citing health reasons.