Off the wire

  • 2000-10-05
NOT OVER MY HOUSE: Authorities have banned air traffic above the top of the Viimsi peninsula, east of Tallinn, where President Lennart Meri has his home. The ban, effective from Oct. 5, was imposed at the president's request. The new regulation forbids planes and helicopters from flying above the area at an altitude lower than 900 meters. The area became the second place in Estonia beside the Matsalu bird reserve on the western coast where the authorities have imposed an air traffic ban.

BROUGHT BUDDIES: The press conference Sept. 28 by MP Miroslav Mitrofanov of For Human Rights in a United Latvia, was joined by two members from non-governmental organization Victory which openly supports the National Bolsheviks. Both members of Victory carried editions of the National Bolshevik newspaper Limonka.

CHOPPERS GROUNDED: Estonian air traffic company, Lennuliiklusteeninduse AS, will cancel flights as of Oct. 2. The Copterline helicopter service between Tallinn and Helsinki will stop because of debts. Lennuliiklusteeninduse AS managing director, Jaan Tamm, said Copterline has not paid navigation fees since May, and that their debts have grown to nearly 360,000 kroons ($24,500). "As the company has not paid for the services it has received, we are not going to provide them anymore. Withdrawal of our services will make it impossible for the helicopters to land and to take off, as well as to cross the state border," Tamm said.

HUMAN RIGHTS AT STAKE IN COURT: The complaint to the European Court of Human Rights over delays in the legal proceedings filed by ex-banker Alexander Lavent, currently on trial in Latvia for large scale fraud related to the collapse of Banka Baltija, should be regarded as the most serious for Latvia. Latvian Ambassador to the Council of Europe, Georgs Andrejevs, expressed this opinion in an interview with the Latvian daily Diena. In any case, the people who filed it have found that this is the weak spot in our court system. They are wise enough, said Andrejevs. He said he believes they will also hire appropriate, possibly international defense lawyers.

POLICE CHECK DIRTY LAUNDERING: The Estonian central criminal police launched its first criminal proceedings under the money laundering article of the penal code last week. Police started to investigate how a bank's employees allegedly moved millions of kroons to different accounts with no regard to the requirement of checking personal identity. According to preliminary police information, money also moved to bank accounts abroad. According to Estonian law, suspicious money transactions must be reported to the proper authorities before they are granted.

JOINS WTO 2001: Lithuania has successfully concluded negotiations with the World Trade Organization for membership. Algimantas Rimkunas, Lithuanian Foreign Vice-Minister and head of negotiations, said Oct. 2 after negotiations in Geneva were over. The process of negotiations is fully completed, there will be no more rounds of negotiations, he said. Lithuania will have to ratify documents on liabilities in the fields of trade policy and duty, as well as 28 main WTO agreements by May 1, 2001. Then Lithuania will become an official member of WTO.

THREE BANK ROBBERS AT LARGE: Three unidentified men stole 50,000 litas ($12,500) from a branch of the Lithuanian bank Lietuvos Taupomasis Bankas in Vilnius in the evening of Oct. 2. Witnesses say three masked men entered the bank's office through a service entrance at about 7:30 p.m., after the bank was closed. Police believe the robbers made their way into the bank as office-cleaners. The men are still at large, and the money is yet to be recovered.

NO MORE PAINS: Medication supply company, Johnson & Johnson, will donate two million caplets of the pain-killer Tylenol to more than 200 hospitals in the Baltic countries through October. The aim of this donation is to help Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian hospitals to boost their medical remedies stocks in a situation of insufficient supplies. The donation is worth some $67,000 and was handed over Oct. 3.

OUTRUNS JEEP: A member of the Young Lithuania party, MP Stanislovas Buskevicius, runs faster than a jeep but cannot outrun a motorcycle. In full swing of the election campaign, Buskevicius staged a race with wheeled machinery in the country's second biggest city, Kaunas, on Sept. 30. After the start signal was given, Buskevicius took the lead, but a member of the Christian Democratic Party faction, MP Algirdas Patackas, overtook him halfway and eased off for an easy win.