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OFF THE WIRE

  • 2001-11-29
BIG DEFENDER: A hi-tech, long-range, three-dimensional radar worth 8 million lats ($12.6 million) and meeting all NATO standards will be set up in the county of Audrini in Latvia's eastern district of Rezekne. The location was approved at a government meeting on Nov. 27. The government also looked into the confidential issue of payment schedules for the U.S. company Lockheed Martin so it can start building the radar, reported Latvian Defense Minister Girts Kristovskis. Latvia has to pay up 10 percent of the deal by the end of the year and most of the amount - 70 percent - next year. Another 15 percent of the 8 million lats will be paid after the radar is assembled and set up, while the remaining 5 percent will be paid up after its three-year guarantee runs out. Kristovskis said that the radar could be put up in 20 months, which would be sometime in the second half of 2003. Latvia and Estonia have both finalized a deal for buying a radar each from Lockheed Martin, thus getting themselves a discount. The 3D radars will be used for airspace defense, able to locate objects unwilling to be identified. They are also expected to be linked to NATO systems.

MONEY MARCH: On Dec. 1, Vilnius will join the first ever global rally "Walk For Capitalism," which is to take in over 100 major cities around the world including New York, London, Moscow and Hong Kong. The coordinator of the rally in Lithuania, Maksimas Reznikovas, said Vilnius is the only city in the three Baltic countries participating in the event, which promotes the idea of a free market, the rule of law, human rights and liberty. "Capitalism is the only system based on the recognition that each individual owns his life. It is the only social system in which individuals are free to pursue their rational self-interest, to own property, and to profit from their actions," maintain the organizers in a "Bernstein Declaration" on the principles and possibilities of capitalism. The global rally is a response to recent anti-globalisation protests and an invitation to discuss the values of the modern world. During the march in Vilnius, participants will walk down Gediminas Avenue and stop to mark objects indicting the success of private initiative with a blue ribbon. A capitalism award will also be given out. The winner will be chosen by a special commission of representatives from the Lithuanian Free Market Institute, the Confederation of Industrialists, the American Chamber of Commerce, the British Chamber of Commerce and a few businesspeople.

BEAUTY QUEEN: Sixteen-year-old Kaunas student Asta Buziliauskaite has been named "Ford Supermodel of the World 2002" after winning a beauty contest in Miami, Florida. Buziliauskaite won the contest, organized by the Ford Models modeling agency, a firm that holds beauty contests and model searches in 50 countries around the world annually, after finalists from these global competitions assembled for a "super-supermodel" competition fought it out for the title of most fair. Buziliauskaite will now be asked to sign a three-year employment contract with Ford to work at its agency in New York. The contract will reportedly net the young lass $250,000 over the 3-year period. Buziliauskaite won the Ford Supermodel of Lithuania 2001 beauty contest last summer.

UNHAPPY CHILDREN: A quarter of Estonian children would like to live in another country, and only 3 percent believe life there will change for the better when the country joins the EU, a study by the world children's fund UNICEF shows. The UN fund carried out the survey among the children of Europe to determine their satisfaction with school, their families and society. It appears from the Estonian study that children worry about their economic situation - almost half of those interviewed yearned for a higher standard of living, and only a very small percentage had faith in life improving on entry into the EU. Presenting the conclusions of the survey, UNICEF's Estonia representative Toomas Palu told reporters that 18 percent of children are worried about their economic situation. "Believe it or not, only 3 percent reckon life will improve with the EU's help," Palu observed. More than half of the children said that local authorities disregard children's opinions, while half wanted the government to do more to promote culture and sports and provide leisure activities.

SQUANDERING: The auditing committee of Tallinn City Council found that the municipality's Security and Integration Department has violated the public procurement law. The distribution of funds for aid and programs of crime prevention and integration by the department was not in keeping with its intended purpose, said the head of the council's auditing committee, Jana Padrik. The department failed to announce public procurement tenders for the financing of some programs, she said. Investigation of the department, run by Deputy Mayor Leivi Sher, who has since tendered his resignation, began on Nov. 9. The department's director, Galina Panchenko, is also under suspicion. Sher has suspended his membership in the Russian-dominated Estonian United People's Party and will leave office on Dec. 1, while Panchenko has been sacked.

CUTTING BACK: The construction inspectorate of Jurmala Town Council has sent warning notices to some 50 property owners in the Latvian beach resort saying that fences or support walls built along the Lielupe River obstructing the cordage zone alongside the public waters should be removed. These zones stretch along public river banks and lakes with a width of 10 or more meters to ensure access to the water for rescue and other services as well as anglers and the general public. Early in the summer, the inspectorate found 15 places in Jurmala where access to the Lielupe was restricted by barriers. Ten owners had punishments imposed on them, among them the former Latvian Privatization Agency chief Janis Naglis. Some paid hefty fines, while others went to court to contest the decision. It was not ruled out that the illegal fences and walls would be removed and the removal costs later recovered from the property owners.