Eesti in brief - 2008-07-23

  • 2008-07-23
Ardo Kalle, the Estonian sailor who was kidnapped by pirates off the coast of Somalia earlier this year, was safely returned home on July 22. Kalle was met by Lauri Bambus, director general of the Foreign Ministry's consular department. "I feel quite normal and have no major complaints," Kalle said. Somali pirates hijacked the Lehmann Timber, a German ship, on May 28. It has a crew of 15, including the captain, a Russian citizen, the mate, an Estonian, and four Ukrainian citizens. On July 8, the pirates released the seamen against a ransom of 750,000 U.S. dollars, although they initially demanded more than one million dollars.

Officials have announced that the country will soon start keeping track of air passengers flying within Europe in order to catch terrorists and wanted persons. Air security personnel will check the personal data of flight passengers against the wanted criminals list before the planes land. Numerous other EU countries have already instituted similar measures. Discussions over how much personal data can be reviewed are ongoing, but the information will almost certainly include people's names, contact information, flight duration and luggage information. Urmas Kukk, director general of the Data Protection Inspectorate, said he believed that European data protection organizations would be keeping an eye on the passengers' information and third persons would have no access to it.

The Ministry of the Economy is considering privatizing five major state owned companies including 's Eesti Post, Eesti Energia, Eesti Raudtee (Estonian Railway), Tallinna Sadam (Port of Tallinn) and Tallinna Lennujaam (Tallinn Airport). "The objective is not to fill the state treasury but to find out what benefits involving private capital could have for the development of the companies," a ministry representative said. The final proposals for which companies to privatize will probably be submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers in September.

Finnish authorities have arrested six men from Estonia with 26 kilograms of amphetamines, the largest haul that the country has seen in recent memory. Police have arrested four and detained two of the suspects. Some of them have a criminal record and some currently live in Finland. Officers also seized a navigator that contained data about the location of the place the drugs were hidden. The street value of the drugs would be at least a half million euros. 

A 29-year-old woman has been killed after walking into the rotating propeller of an aircraft she was supposed to be boarding. The woman was preparing to go skydiving out of Kuusiku airfield in Estonia's Rapla County before the incident took place. The woman died instantly. She was an experienced skydiver, with 224 jumps on record. The propeller was several meters from the door, and police are still unsure as to the circumstances of the accident. The woman was a member of the Estonian Parachute Club 's this was the first lethal accident the club has seen after more than 10 years of successful jumps.