Off the wire

  • 2002-11-14

The Estonian government endorsed on Nov. 12 amendments to the citizenship law which allow people who were not eligible for citizenship and Estonian passports, but who were granted them due to officials' mistakes about a decade ago, to keep them. The number of such people is estimated at 1,500.

The government discussed the proposed amendments earlier at its Oct. 22 meeting and ruled then to rush the amendments and approve them at a meeting soon. According to the amendments, people who received passports in good faith will be considered citizens from the moment they received their first passport unless they knowingly submitted false information about their origin when applying for the document. (Baltic News Service)


The sinking of the passenger liner Estonia is being turned into a movie. Shooting of "Baltic Storm" began this week, with German journalist and documentarist Jutta Rabe working as one of the producers and German actor Jurgen Prochnow and English actress Greta Scacchi starring in leading roles.

The first scenes are being shot on locations in Babelsberg, outside Berlin, though later the set will move to the Baltic shores of Germany, Denmark, Estonia and Sweden. The budget for the film, which is expected to be released in August, is reported at $5.5 million.

Producer Jutta Rabe has previously made documentaries about Estonia, which sank shortly after midnight on Sep. 28, 1994, taking 850 with it. She believes the ferry sank due to a planned explosion. (The Baltic Times)


On Nov. 12 Lithuania's Seimas (parliament) adopted a long-term strategy for the country's development which envisages the creation of a "model welfare state" based on the priorities of a knowledge-based society, safe community and competitive economy. It is the first document of its kind adopted by the Lithuanian Parliament.

The strategy says that Lithuania "has gone through the most difficult period of transition into the market economy" and that, taking into account current economic development, the country will be able to reach the level of EU countries in 30 years.

In the energy industry the plan provides for the opportunity to build a new nuclear reactor and make use of the structure of the Ignalina nuclear plant. The strategy also says that more attention should be paid not on military threats, but rather on issues of international crime, uncontrolled migration, energy dependence, loss of cultural identity and the poor status of the Lithuanian language. (BNS)


The deputy head of the Latvian Security Police, Didzis Smitins, has filed a suit in court against Einars Repse, Latvia's newly appointed prime minister, who had accused Smitins of link to contraband during the pre-election period.

It has been reported that Smitins will demand 20,000 lats (33,100 euros) in moral compensation for what the police officer claimed were "dishonorable, shameful and consciously false claims" that Smitins helped cover up alcohol, meat and cigarette contraband operations.

Repse's assistant said that he was surprised Smitins had turned to court so late, adding that Smitins is doing this only because he is afraid of losing his post. He added that there is a high probability that Smitins will have to resign. (BNS)


Coming on the heels of his visit to Latvia, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov congratulated Mayor of Tallinn Edgar Savisaar on his re-election and invited him to visit Moscow in the first half of the year.

Savisaar's visit, the date for which has not yet been set, has been penciled in to Luzhkov's first-quarter 2003 working plan.

The original plan was for Savisaar to visit the Russian capital in August or September, but the trip was put off because of October local elections in Estonia. (BNS)


Clocks in all three Baltic states will be showing the same time throughout the year as a result of Lithuania's decision on Nov. 6 to start changing to summer time beginning in spring 2003.

The Lithuanian government passed a resolution proposing to introduce summer time on the last Sunday of March at 2 a.m. by turning clocks forward by one hour, and recall summer time at 3 a.m. on the last Sunday of October by turning the clocks back by one hour.

Previously the government had decided not to change to daylight saving time in 2002. In 1999 the governments of the three countries agreed not to adopt daylight saving time and live by one time throughout the year, however Latvia, in March 2001, and then Estonia one year later, defaulted on the agreement. (BNS)