Off the wire

  • 2000-09-21
NURSES TO GO ON STRIKE: The Paramedics' Trade Union in Estonia, KMK, decided unanimously at its extraordinary meeting on Sept. 18 to stage a one-hour warning strike in the near future to press their demands for a pay rise. The president of KMK, Inna Rahendi, said at the meeting that pay talks which started in 1996 have failed to produce a result, and that nurses are no longer able to work for their present salaries, which in several places is 11-12 kroons ($0.6) per hour. The union is demanding a minimum wage of 25 kroons per hour.

GREEK TANKER POLLUTES PORT: Tests carried out by the Estonian environmental survey center show that oil polluting the sea at the port of Muuga near Tallinn originated from the Greek tanker Alambra. Samples taken from the ship's cargo tank and a sample from the water between the ship and the quay are identical, Port of Tallinn marketing division director Erik Sakkov said on Sept. 18. There's no way they can claim they had nothing to do with this, Sakkov added. About 20 tons of pollution has been removed, Sakkov said, but it is unclear how much of it was oil.

DISAGREEMENT OVER TAX PUBLICATION: Parties in Estonia's ruling coalition are failing to come to terms over a proposal to start publication of the amount of income tax paid by each MP, although a week ago some of them presented the plan as a common initiative. The chairman of the coalition council, Andres Tarand, on Sept. 18 blamed partners from the Reform Party, saying the party's statements left the impression that there were people in Reforms' ranks who had reason to conceal their income.

NO DATE FOR EU ENLARGEMENT: The European Commission officer has said that setting specific dates for EU enlargement may harm the process itself. The EC has never supported the idea of setting dates and has so far not encouraged debate on the issue, Eneko Landaburu, head of EC general directorate for enlargement, said in Vilnius on Sept. 11. He arrived in Vilnius to take part in a meeting of negotiators from 12 candidate countries engaged in EU membership talks. In a declaration issued at the meeting, EU membership negotiators stressed that EU enlargement should be consistent and predictable.

GANG LEADER'S GRAVE DESECRATED: The grave of a former leader of a criminal gang, Boris Dekanidze, executed in 1995, has been desecrated in a Jewish cemetery near Vilnius. On Sept. 14 in the afternoon, the director of the company looking after the cemetery reported to police that the letters on Dekanidze's gravestone had been removed and plants decorating the grave uprooted. Dekanidze was executed in 1995 for organizing the assassination of Vitas Lingis, a journalist with the daily newspaper Respublika.

FBI TO OPEN OFFICE: The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations might soon open an office in Vilnius, FBI director general Louis J. Freeh told Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius in Vilnius on Sept. 17 at the end of his Baltic tour. Kubilius' spokesman quoted the FBI head as saying that the U.S. Senate's Budget Committee had already allocated funds for the opening of the Vilnius office. Freeh vowed to make every effort to ensure that the office opens as soon as possible.

MORE BABIES IN LATVIA: The birth rate in Latvia has increased by 5 percent in the first seven months this year compared to the same period in 1999. The birth rate in Latvia increased for the first time last year and continues to rise. Between January and July, a total of 12,080 babies were born in Latvia, a year-on-year increase of 986, the Central Statistics Office reported Sept. 14. But despite increases, the birth rate still remains lower than the death rate.

SLOVAKIAN COMPANY TO REMOVE WEAPONS: The Latvian Defense Ministry has received a letter from Katrim Stella, a Slovakian firm which several years ago delivered low-quality weapons to Latvia and so far has failed to remove the faulty products from Latvian army warehouses. Defense Minister Girts Valdis Kristovskis said at a press conference that Katrim Stella had promised to remove the defective arms from Latvia in three months and also to pay the storage costs incurred.

ESTONIAN CONTRACTORS ACCUSED: Latvian Border Guard Chief Gunars Dabolins is not satisfied with the quality of the Terehova border control point facilities built on the eastern Latvian border by an Estonian contractor. Dabolins said that in order to prevent similar problems in future more trust should be placed in Latvian construction companies. It must be understood that Latvia's eastern border is and will be the frontier of EU and border facilities must comply with EU standards, Dabolins said.