• 2001-11-01
TIME TRAVEL: On Oct. 28 Estonian and Lithuanian clocks were set at the same time as those in Latvia and Finland after six months in which those traveling between the four countries were forever jumping back and forth in time. Estonia and Lithuania, which chose not to shift to daylight saving time in spring, once again have the same time as their neighbors. A time difference remains between the Baltic states and Western Russia, including Moscow, but the two hours between Moscow and Estonia and Lithuania have now been reduced to one. Latvia returned to the same time zone as the rest of Europe on Oct. 28. Last year all the three Baltic states chose not to shift to summer time, but the Latvian government decided in January this year to reintroduce the practice.

FILM STAR: Canadian film producers have started work on a documentary about Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, a former citizen of Canada. With financial support from the Canadian government, the producers Prisma Light intend to make a one-hour film. Vike-Freiberga spent many years in Canada after her parents' exile from Latvia in the 1940s. The film will try to give her vision of Latvia's present and future. Vike-Freiberga is well-known in Canadian academic circles, and the producers are certain that the Canadian audience will find the film interesting also because of the unique turn in her life in recent years, becoming one of a select few women presidents in the world. The documentary will use interviews with Vike-Freiberga herself, her friends in Canada and Latvia, and public figures who know her well. Prism Light hopes the film will be shown at film festivals in Berlin and Toronto. Several European and Asian TV companies have inquired about the possibility of running the film.

SPACE AGE: A glove that belonged to Lithuania's only cosmonaut is being sold at a U.S. auction on the Internet. The company University Archives, based in Westport, Connecticut, put the left glove of Rimantas Stankevicius' Sokol spacesuit up for Internet auction at the eBay website on Oct. 8. But no buyer has yet expressed interest in it. The description of the item says the glove is in good condition, with the astronaut's initials RAAS in Russian letters. The starting price is $500. The company is intending to register the glove at the auction site for the third time next week. According to the auction organizers, the right glove of Stankevicius' spacesuit was sold for $2,300 last October. They claim they received both Lithuanian cosmonaut's gloves from "our sources in Russia." University Archives is constantly supplied with items that used to belong to Soviet cosmonauts. Stankevicius, born in 1944, conducted 14 test flights on the Russian Buren spaceship. But he never really flew into space. He died in an accident in Italy in 1990 when demonstrating an Su-29 fighter.

OUT OF THE COLD: The secretary general of the Council of Europe, Walter Schwimmer, has praised Lithuania's readiness to assume the chairmanship of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers, and added that he has hopes the country will facilitate a breakthrough in releasing Belarus from its self-imposed isolation. Schwimmer made the remarks Oct. 29 during a trip to Vilnius. He met with foreign minister, parliamentary chairman and president to discuss the chairmanship. He said he found Lithuania had made excellent preparations and was fully prepared to assume the post. He felt there was a good chance Yugoslavia's bid for membership would be satisfied during Lithuania's term, provided the political status of Montenegro is determined. The Council of Europe will also have to decide what the nature of relations with Belarus should be during the chairmanship. In 1997, the Council suspended Belarus' status as observer in the organization in response to anti-democratic activities by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

LAW TALK: The human rights situation in Estonia is looking good compared to many other European countries, Rait Maruste, an Estonian judge at the European Court of Human Rights, said at a meeting with President Arnold Ruutel on Oct. 29. Maruste said no significant complaints have been submitted to the court concerning alleged human rights violations by Estonia. Maruste and the new president dedicated further time to the topic of ensuring citizens' rights to vote and religious freedom. They also spoke about the independence of the courts and judges, coming to the common conclusion that it was necessary according to the Estonian constitution to ensure both the legal and financial independence of courts of law. Ruutel and Maruste also spoke at length about making changes in the constitution, including the need to establish a constitutional court and amending the constitution in accordance with the country's accession to the European Union.

ON THE LOOSE: Asked to indicate the member state of the European Union they would most like to work in, almost a third of Lithuanians would like to go to Germany, a recent poll published in the Veidas current affairs weekly says. Some 32 percent of respondents pointed to Germany, compared with 17 percent choosing England, six percent Sweden, five percent Denmark, three percent each for France and Spain, two percent Italy and the Netherlands and one percent Austria. According to the poll, carried out by the Vilmorus public opinion and market research company, 51 percent of those polled showed no interest in seeking employment in an EU country after Lithuania joins the organization, 39 percent were undecided and 10 percent said they would look for a job in an EU member state. Meanwhile, 36 percent of respondents said they would like to work abroad for up to 12 months, 15 percent would work for more than a year, and 13 percent would prefer to work abroad permanently. Working in a foreign country was most popular among younger respondents, with 28 percent of young people wanting a job abroad compared to 15 percent who are not interested in the idea. Over 200,000 people have emigrated from Lithuania over the past decade.