BLAMES OTHERS: Latvian newspapers Vakara Avize and Vakara Zinas featured the appeal of convicted sex offender Andris Meinarts Nov. 17. To the evening newspapers, he's declared that his sentence of 10 years in prison was handed down because of information at his disposal on well-known people who have abused minors sexually. The newspapers are considering the possibility of releasing the full names of the individuals after Independence Day.
FARMERS GIVE MORE TIME: Estonian farmers decided Nov. 17 to postpone protest actions from the earlier deadline of Nov. 24 until December. The rural-life crisis committee decided on the postponement because readiness for the actions will be discussed only on Nov. 22 and the Central Association of Farmers meets on Nov. 24. The actions were also postponed because the government can still modify next year's state budget to meet the demands of farmers.
TERRORISTS IN LITHUANIA: Lithuanian special services have unmasked and expelled two nationals of Lebanon suspected of connections with international terrorism, the local press reported Nov. 21. The Lietuvos Rytas daily said the two brothers, Ali and Mohamed Bechara, were in their ninth and fourth years of studies respectively at the Medical University of Kaunas, Lithuania's second largest city. The Interior Ministry said that the reasons behind the decision to cancel the temporary residence permits of the two men would not be made public.
IMF GIVES BACKING: The International Monetary Fund has welcomed the intentions of Lithuania's new government to keep the fiscal deficit target for 2001 at 1.4 percent, or 628 million litas ($157 million), of the gross domestic product. The new government wants to revise revenues and expenditures for the coming year. It is up to them to do this because the program priorities have changed with the change of ministers, Patricia Alonso-Gamo, head of a visiting IMF mission, said.
NOT FLAMENCO DANCERS: Spanish authorities have detained 17 Lithuanian citizens belonging to the criminal gang Panevezys in the country's eastern province of Alicante. Lithuanian national television news reported Nov. 19 that the Spanish police regarded the gang as the most aggressive among all groups from the former Soviet Union operating in Spain.
MORE CASH: By a decision of the coalition council, the volume of Estonia's budget revenues in 2001 will be increased by 300 million kroons ($16.28 million) mostly because of dividend income. The prognosis of corporate income tax receipts was upped by 70 million kroons and of income from fines, by about 20 million kroons. The rest of the additional income, or 210 million kroons, is to come from a raise in dividend rates of state-owned enterprises.
HACKER CHARGED: Estonian police have filed criminal charges against Tonu Samuel, a computer specialist who two months ago copied more than 61,000 user names from the Estonian telephone company Eesti Telefon's portal hot.ee. Samuel was charged in accordance with the article of the criminal code dealing with repeated illegal use of a computer network. The accused faces up to two years in prison if found guilty.
HITS BOTTOM: An Estonian boat with a cargo of fish sank off the northwestern island of Hiiumaa in the early hours of Nov. 21, but its crew of four escaped unhurt. The crew of four managed to get into a life raft from where they alerted rescuers by mobile telephone. A British cargo vessel, the Finn Reel, took the Estonian seamen aboard after the Estonian maritime surveillance center had sent out a distress signal.
MORE MEDIA MONEY: The three-party ruling coalition which voted down additional money allocations to Estonian Television and Estonian Radio in next year's budget bill is nevertheless about to give each of the two more than 20 million kroons ($1.1 million). Additional money has been promised to ETV and ER by a number of coalition politicians, head of the Parliament's finance committee Kalle Jurgenson, of the Pro Patria Union, said on the party's Web page.