Estonia in brief

  • 2004-01-22
Aavo Viiol, former head of the Estonian Culture Foundation, will be released from the Tartu prison next week in accordance with the ruling of Tartu County Court announced Jan. 20. Viiol, 45, embezzled nearly 8.5 million kroons (543,000 euros) from the foundation's bank accounts and reportedly spent it in Estonian casinos from 1999 to 2002. The money was never recovered. Viiol admitted to wrongdoing and was sentenced to nearly three years in jail and full compensation of the funds embezzled. He has so far paid approximately 400 euros. While in prison Viiol, who holds a master's degree in economics, lectured on macroeconomics to fellow inmates, for which he received a salary.

Estonia might introduce an online voting system for local elections by 2005, as the ruling coalition promised earlier this year. The national electoral committee has established an expert group that will develop an online voting system based on the ID chip card. Cryptography experts will try to hack the voting system that will be tested during a poll to be carried out among Tallinn residents in autumn 2004.

The crime rate in Tallinn decreased by nearly 2 percent last year compared with 2002, the city administration announced. A total of 24,712 crimes were registered in the capital last year. In all, there were 33 percent fewer burglaries, 36 percent fewer public thefts and robberies, 14 percent fewer auto thefts. Shoplifting, however, grew by 78 percent.

Compensation to victims of the occupation regimes will take some 639,000 euros from the state budget in 2003. According to recently approved legislation, people who were repressed, deported or had otherwise suffered during the German and the Soviet occupation can apply for compensation of medical treatment expenses including dental and rehabilitation care. The compensation can also be used for public transportation expenses from next year on. There are about 25,000 people in Estonia who could apply for the compensation, according to the Social Affairs Ministry.

The 12th volume of the Estonian Encyclopedia and J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" were the most popular books in the country last year, according to the Estonian Publishers' Union. There were 15,853 copies of the encyclopedia volume and 12,799 copies of Rowling's latest novel sold in Estonia. Third place went to Martti Turtola's book "President Konstantin Pats" which sold 12,000 copies.