Eesti in brief - 2009-02-25

  • 2009-02-25
Eurostat, the official statistics agency of the European Union, has released an overview of the regional living standards in EU member countries and found that the living standards in Estonia stand at 65.3 percent of the EU average. In an overview, the gross domestic product per capita is compared on the basis of purchasing power parity. In Estonia the figure was 15,400 euros per capita. In Lithuania the living standard stands at 55.5 percent and in Latvia 52.5 percent of the EU average. 

Two-time Estonian Olympic champion Andrus Veerpalu has won the 15 kilometer classic-style race at the Nordic skiing world championships in Liberec on Feb. 20. The Czech Republic's Lucas Bauer took silver, losing by 6.3 seconds. Veerpalu erased Bauer's nine-second lead over the last half of the race to push the Czech into second position in front of a home crowd. Matti Heikkinen of Finland was third, 16.4 seconds behind. Another Estonian, Jaak Mae, finished in fifth place.

A resident of Tallinn is attempting to restore the ancient tradition of burning the dead on wood pyres and has chosen the western Estonian island of Muhumaa as the place where the rites could be performed, the regional newspaper Oma Saar reported. Erik Arro published an announcement in the paper to find out if there are other people interested in the idea. He claims there is no law in Estonia banning outdoor cremations. "Our Constitution sets out freedom of religion and freedom of thought," he said. The Pallasmaa beach that Arro has chosen as the prospective pyre site is situated not far from an oak grove, traditionally a powerful tree in pagan folklore. There also is a place nearby where plague victims used to be buried centuries ago, he said. Arro added that the cremations as he sees them would be accompanied by music played on traditional folk instruments. "It doesn't have to be a sad event, rather a calm, dignified and optimistic one. A pagan funeral isn't that sad. There's no reason to mourn, one should be glad instead that the person has been ridded of the burden of his body," Arro told the newspaper.

Estonian Interior Minister Juri Pihl has said that Heete Simm, wife of Hermann Simm, who was found guilty of treason last year, posed no threat to Estonia's security. "Heete Simm has no access to state secrets and her work poses not threat to Estonia's security," the minister said. Heete Simm, earlier head of the legal services office of the Police Board, returned to work as an ordinary lawyer. "A suspicion is not a sufficient reason for someone's release. Only a court can convict a person," Pihl said.