ELDER DEEMED WINNER: Lithuania's Central Electoral Commission has applied an extremely rare method to ascertain the winner of the general election in one district - the older candidate was recognized the victor. The commission re-calculated the outcome of the Oct. 8 polls in the Plunge-Rietavas single-member constituency and ascertained that Visvaldas Nekrasas of the Social Democratic coalition and his main competitor, Audrius Klisonis of the Lithuanian Liberal Union, collected 5,311 or 23.39 percent of the votes each. The law on parliament elections stipulates that the older candidate should be recognized the winner in this case, therefore, the victory was handed to Nekrasas, 42, leaving Klisonis, 36, in the second place.
PM STRONGLY DENIES REPORTS: Outgoing Lithuanian parliamentary chairman, Vytautas Landsbergis, has warned the country's government and the president against possible ultimatums by Russia, following Russian media reports about his alleged mediation in the provision of weapons to Chechen fighters. Several Smolensk newspapers published a few anonymous articles about Landsbergis' involvement in the sale of military uniforms and ammunition from Lithuania's Skalmantas company to Chechnya.
NEW MAYOR IN PARNU: The council of the western Estonian city of Parnu on Oct. 16 elected Einar Kelder from the Reform Party as the new mayor and confirmed the composition of a new city government. The city's deputy mayors are Margus Tammekivi from the Center Party, Taimi Vilgas and Riina Muursepp from the Reform Party and Erni Metsal affiliated of the Coalition Party, a representative of city government said. The mayor and the newly elected city government collected 23 votes in the council.
CALLS FOR PARTICIPATION: The coalition council Oct. 16 ruled that all the Estonian Cabinet members will have to attend budget discussions in Parliament to answer queries concerning the 2001 state budget. In the council's opinion, this will help make the budget process more transparent, an adviser to the council chairman Andres Tarand said. The standing Finance Committee expects to send the next year's draft budget for its first reading in Parliament on Oct. 25.
SLIM CHANCES FOR NEW PARTY: Sociologists, who for years have studied Estonians' political preferences, reckon that the newly-established Democratic Party's chances of becoming a major player on the political scene are slim. The biggest disadvantage of the newcomers is that it is not clear what is original in their political position, what makes them different from the existing parties apart from their not having been in power, Estonian market research institution ES Turu-uuringute's sociologist Juhan Kivirahk said. Promises to do the same things as ruling parties but in a better and more democratic way are not going to win large support, Kivirahk added.
OPENS AIR FORCE CENTER: Latvian Defense Minister Girts Valdis Kristovskis on Oct. 13 officially opened the Latvian Air Force Information Center. The center, summarizing information about Latvia's air space, will be based in the premises of the Latvian Air Traffic company and will operate as a part of BaltNet, a joint radar project involving the three Baltic countries. During the opening ceremony, Kristovskis said Latvia have great security goals leading to Latvia's admission to NATO.
SILENCE DURING CULTURE EVENTS: Latvian mobile telephone company, Latvijas Mobilais Telefons, together with the Culture Ministry and other institutions, will launch an informational campaign Oct. 18 urging people to switch off their mobile phones during culture events, the organizers said. Movie Daile, a popular movie theater in the center of Riga, starting with the next week will show a clip before each film urging the audience to switch off their mobile telephones during the film. The clip will be distributed to movie theaters free of charge, one of the action's organizers Valdis Jalinskis said.
TURNS DOWN CALLING FOR COMPENSATION: The Latvian parliament Oct. 12 voted down the bill proposed by the Fatherland and Freedom faction, concerning claiming compensation from Russia for damages incurred as a result of the occupation by the Soviet Union. The motion was rejected by 14 votes for and 13 votes against with 56 abstentions.