Off the wire

  • 2001-03-15
B.A. SCREWS UP: British Airways' High Life in-flight magazine extended its apologies March 10 over an article misinterpreting the symbolic meaning of the Freedom Monument in Riga, one of Latvia's national symbols. British Airways Baltic representative Tom Anderson said that the magazine was also willing to publish in one of its future issues an article about Latvia to promote interest in the Baltic state among tourists. The March edition of High Life included an article containing a gross misinterpretation of this symbol of the country's independence. It claimed that the woman on the monument was Mother Russia and the three stars in her hands represented the three Baltic states. In fact the bronze-cast woman symbolizes the Latvian state, and the three stars she holds above her head stand for three Latvian regions.

TEASING TONES: Estonian Defense Minister Juri Luik, currently on a visit to Washington, said meetings in the U.S. capital convinced him that the tone of the discussions about NATO enlargement had become considerably more auspicious for the Baltic states. "There are several reasons for this. One of them surely is that the year 2002 and the Prague summit, where the process for further expansion will be discussed, no longer lie far ahead," the minister said in an interview with the Postimees daily.

COSTLY ACCIDENT: Lithuanian Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis fired his adviser Egidijus Bickauskas March. 12 for his involvement in a hit-and-run accident, the ministry reported. On Jan. 31, the former parliamentarian's Land Rover hit a parked car on one of the busiest streets in Vilnius and quickly left the scene of the accident, police said. The director of the ministry's Information and Culture Department, Petras Zapolskas, told Baltic News Service that Bickauskas had been discharged from the post because he had "lost political trust."

FINED FOR DISCRIMINATION: The Lithuanian inspector for gender equality, Ausrine Burneikiene, fined the authorized agent of the director of the Da Antonio's restaurant chain in Vilnius and honorable consul for Australia in Lithuania, Salvatore Antonio Meschino, $125 on March 12. The punishment was for breaking Lithuania's law on equal gender opportunity. Last November the Lithuanian daily Lietuvos Rytas printed an employment advertisement for a "gamybos vedeja," or production chief, at the Da Antonio chain. In Lithuanian usage, the female gender excludes consideration of a male candidate, and the usual practice is to use both genders in such advertisements.

PRIME PROMOTION: International cooperation division prosecutor at the Latvian prosecutor general's office Aivars Zakis, was appointed as the new head of the Latvian president's chancellery, it was reported March 13. Zakis was the prosecutor who went to the United States to gather materials about Konrads Kalejs, who is charged with war crimes in a genocide case. Zakis said that he chose to work at the president's office because he thought the offer interesting. "It's no secret that I have met with the president on the Kalejs issue, and maybe these meetings have produced this offer," he said. Zakis has not had any political experience until now, nor is he a member of any political party, but he is sure that there will be no problem with this.

MILITARY MUSCLE: Poland is ready to give Estonia 20 medium T-55 tanks complete with weapons and ammunition, Poland's Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Czeslaw Piatas told reporters after a meeting with a visiting Estonian military commander March 6. Piatas said the decision would have to be approved by the Polish government. Estonia last year rejected a Polish offer of 10 T-55 tanks, saying its defense budget did not allow for the maintenance of these large battle machines.

TRAIN TROUBLE: An opposition motion of no confidence against Estonian Transport and Communications Minister Toivo Jurgenson failed in Parliament March 12. According to opposition deputies, mostly from the Edgar Savisaar's Center Party, the minister is personally responsible for the shoddy privatization of the Estonian railway Eesti Raudtee. Jurgenson responded that the Eesti Raudtee privatization is still in progress and under control.

CHEERS: Lithuanian Interior Minister Vytautas Markevicius accepted March 8 the resignation of his deputy Juozas Galginaitis, a ministry spokeswoman said. In her words, Galginaitis described his step down as a resignation for personal reasons and did not receive compensation. The ministry's spokeswoman did not comment if the resignation was related to recent media reports that Galginaitis had overindulged on alcohol during last week's visit of a Lithuanian delegation to Brussels.

STAR-FISHING: Latvian model Inese Misane, known in the United States and around the world, is the girlfriend of the world famous pop singer Ricky Martin, British entertainment news agency WENN reported March 12. The agency said the superstar had been hiding the model from the world's attention, but finally posed with what WENN richly described as "gorgeous girl" at a restaurant in Monte Carlo the previous day. The pair met at a fashion show in Milan six months ago and managed to keep their relationship under wraps. Ricky has been spotted on the town with her a number of times but always hid her identity. Erroneously, WENN described Misane not as a Latvian but as a "half-Italian, half-Venezuelan beauty." In fact, she has described herself as "a simple girl from Salacgriva," a small town on the Baltic coast where fisheries is the main industry. The couple plan to wed later this year.