Estonia in brief

  • 2004-01-08
If it were to develop a proper democracy, Russia could someday join the EU, former President Lennart Meri said. In an interview to the Austrian newspaper Die Presse published Dec. 31, Meri said that if America had managed to develop in 200 years from a colony into the world's leading democratic power, then Russia could do the same. He said he believes that a democratic Russia is not only a matter of will but of time. He added however that President Vladimir Putin's attitude regarding democracy would not bring Russia any closer to the West.

The government spent about 447,000 euros in 2003 on aid to other countries and international organizations, according to the Foreign Affairs Ministry. More than a half of that went to the U.N. and related organizations. Estonia donated about 100,000 euros for Iraq reconstruction and humanitarian aid, while the rest of the money went to various projects in former Soviet republics.

Despite the much-discussed sugar price increase, most Estonians have not been rushing to horde sugar, according to a survey by Emor. About 76 percent of the population did not buy more sugar than usual in December, the survey found, and only 5 percent admitted they bought several times more sugar than usual. Emor analysts believe the sugar boom may emerge closer to the May 1 accession threshold. Currently the retail sugar price in Estonia stands at some 0.35 euros per kilogram, whereas in the EU it is about three times higher.

An unidentified man robbed a Hansabank office in Parnu on Dec. 30. The masked robber threatened the bank clerk with a gunlike object and then left the office after receiving the cash box that contained about 9,000 euros. Police said evidence that could lead to the perpetrator was discovered at the crime scene. It was the second bank robbery in Estonia in the last three weeks of December.

A representative of the Estonian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate suggested this week that the Orthodox Christmas could be a national holiday in Estonia due to the high number of Orthodox believers in the country. According to Father Leonty Morozkin, the Moscow-controlled branch of the Estonian Orthodox Church has 31 temples and about 150,000 believers in Estonia, a group almost as large as the dominating Lutheran Church.