Off the wire

  • 2001-03-08
SENT TO SIBERIA: The Russian authorities intend to grant residence to Russians returning from the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltic states to live in less populated regions, for example in Siberia where there is plenty of work and accommodation available. The Moscow paper Vremya Novosti reported Feb. 27 that according to a plan drawn up in the Federal Affairs Ministry immigrants would receive from Russian missions the addresses of areas like Omsk. "If the settlers do not want to go where they are expected to go, issues of citizenship, let alone accommodation, will become extremely difficult for them," the paper wrote. It added that such attractive places as southern European Russia and Moscow are literally closed to resettlers from the CIS and the Baltic countries.

BLUE VELVET: Czech president Vaclav Havel firmly supports Lithuania's objectives of entering the European Union and NATO. That's what he told Lithuanian foreign minister Antanas Valionis during a meeting March 5 in Prague. Valionis reported that Havel called Lithuania one of the best prepared candidates for membership in the North Atlantic Alliance. Valionis replied that the creation of the new Europe could not happen without Lithuania and the other Baltic states. The two agreed that the process begun by the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, the Singing Revolution in Lithuania and Solidarity in Poland will be fulfilled only when all three countries are EU and NATO members. A summit meeting of NATO leaders is scheduled to meet in Prague this November, out of which Lithuania hopes to be invited to join.

PILLOW BOOKS: One of the world's best cult film directors of recent years, Britain's Peter Greenaway, will be visiting Riga in the first days of August with a modern art performance and exhibition, it was reported on Mar. 1. Greenaway will be coming to Latvia as part of a "European Month of Culture" to be held in Riga this summer. Riga is expected to see the staging of his "100 Objects to Represent the World", to be performed on the stage of the National Opera House and also on video over a huge screen on the location of the planned new National Library building across the Daugava River from the Old Town. Objects appearing in the play will also be on show in the buildings of the current National Library.

SMART RADAR: The Estonian government decided on March 2 to buy a radar that cost nearly 200 million kroons ($12 million) for the Baltic countries' joint air space surveillance project from a leading weaponry systems producer, the U.S. firm Lockheed-Martin. The 3D air surveillance radar will make it possible to discover flying objects at the distance of about 300 kilometers. This is necessary both for the air force and air traffic control in times of peace, according to the Estonian Defense Ministry. Estonia does not have such a primary radar, and some aircraft are able to enter Estonia's airspace freely without being detected.

CLEAN SWEEP: Naval officers from 10 countries came together on Mar. 5 at a planning conference in Tallinn to discuss details of an international mine sweeping operation to be led for the first time by Estonia. The mine clearance operation will be led by the Estonian Navy. All such earlier operations in Estonian waters have taken place under the leadership of foreign countries. The aim of the operation is to clear major shipping routes in the Bay of Tallinn of charges dating back to the First and Second World Wars. In all, 15 to 20 ships from the Baltic states, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Britain, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden are expected to take part in the operation.

LAX LUSTRATION: Lithuanian plans to interrogate those who have confessed to working for the Soviet security system, the KGB, may take several months longer than originally thought, and might now end in May instead of as planned at the end of March, according to the chairman of the Lithuanian Lustration Commission, Vytautas Damulis. The date had to be revised due to illness and other factors hindering the interrogation process. Valstybes Zinios, the official publication of the Lithuanian government, will soon begin publishing the names of those who have failed to confess their relationship with the KGB. A law on the confessions and registration of those who worked for Soviet security bodies went into effect in February 2000. Almost 1,500 Lithuanian citizens came forward and registered with the commission by the August 5 deadline.

LAX LOTTERY: Three biathlon athletes in the Latvian national team have sued the Latloto lottery company over the unauthorized use of their photos on lottery coupons. They are demanding no less than 10,000 lats ($16,000) each in damages from the company, the athletes' representative Ilgvars Imsa said March 3. Latloto put photos of Ilmars Bricis, Oleg Malukhin and Jekabs Nakums on the coupons without asking the athletes' permission first. But Latloto marketing manager Aiga Lazdane insists that the athletes were aware of the project as their photos were being used at the same time as part of a charity action. The three filed their claim last year. The next sitting is scheduled for April.

BIENNALE BARD: The world premiere of "Othello" by the prominent Lithuanian theater director Eimuntas Nekrosius was performed at the Goldoni Theater in Venice on March 2. The event was attended by Lithuanian and Italian officials and representatives of the diplomatic corps, culture and media. William Shakespeare's play was performed before Lithuanian audiences last November in what was described as the Lithuanian premiere, or a "public rehearsal". This most recent production by Nekrosius starring Vladas Bagdonas, who was awarded the Lithuanian National Prize for his role, is being produced by the Venice Biennale. This year, the traditional Biennale, one of the world's oldest and most prestigious international arts events, pays homage to Shakespeare in dance, music, theater, cinema and the visual arts.