Estonian yacht goes full circle
The Estonian yacht Lennuk was met by President Lennart Meri, and other leaders, as she returned to an artillery salute in Tallinn from her 18-month round-the-world sail late on 18 March.
The Lennuk left Tallinn on 16 October 1999, visiting 25 countries and stopping in 39 ports. The yacht covered about 35,000 miles during its voyage to promote Estonia and the revival of Estonian yachting.
Wiesenthal Center accuses Estonian
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, an organization that hunts Nazi war criminals, on 20 March sent a letter to the head of the Estonian government calling for an investigation into the activities of Venezuela-based businessman Harry Männil during the Second World War. Männil, 81, an Estonian citizen, has repeatedly denied the allegations made by the organization that he committed crimes against Jews.
Harry Männil was the only Estonian on the list of 18 alleged Baltic Nazi collaborators. The Wiesenthal Center sent the list on 20 March to the Venezuelan government, asking for assistance in determining the whereabouts of 14 Lithuanians, three Latvians and one Estonian.
The Wiesenthal Center claims Männil served in the local police for four months in Estonia during the Nazi occupation and that he played a role in the death of at least 100 Jews.
Männil admits he worked for the security police, but said he was mainly doing paperwork, never actively taking part in operations. He said the security police were mainly targeting collaborators and agents of the Soviet NKVD, predecessor of the KGB. "I have great respect for the Wiesenthal Center, but I'm frustrated that so respected an organization is accusing me," said Männil, who was in Tallinn for an art awards ceremony.
Estonian national security police have twice declared in past years that they have found no evidence of Männil's involvement in war crimes, or crimes against humanity, perpetrated in Estonia during the Second World War.
Estonian Migration Fund loses EEK 1.8 million
Interior Minister Tarmo Loodus has turned to the national security police to look into reports that the Estonian Migration Fund has illegally lent EEK (Estonian kroon) 1.8 million (USD 103,000) to a private company that is now unable to return the money because of financial hardships.
The company, Regionaalkapital Maa & Vara (Regional Capital Land & Estate), has admitted to being unable to repay the loan, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said.
Loodus, an official and founder of the Migration Fund, turned to security police after receiving a letter from members of the supervisory council of the Migration Fund informing him of the borrower's default on repayment. The letter said that then Board Chairman of the fund Andres Kollist signed an EEK 1.8 million loan agreement with Regionaalkapital Maa & Vara on 4 December 1998.
The agreement was extended automatically, but on 22 February this year the council of the Migration Fund decided to call in the loan as of 9 March, with the cash transfer due on 14 March.
"Everything that is possible must be done to return EEK 1.8 million of the people's money to the Migration Fund to be used for performance of the tasks laid out in the fund's statutes. Of course, all circumstances of this dubious deal have to be cleared out too," Loodus said.
The Migration Fund was set up by the government in 1992 to help people who wish to return to their homeland, but lack the necessary money.
Failed Rail Estonia's ringleader arrested
In Tallinn, on 20 March, Estonian police detained Giovanni Sposato, a businessman of Sicilian origin who promised to finance Rail Estonia's bid for Eesti Raudtee (Estonian Railway).
Sposato was seized in connection with a criminal case the police opened at the start of this year. "Details of the criminal case cannot be made public right now as not to prejudice the pre-trial investigation," a police spokesman said.
Sposato came into the public eye after an interview on public television station ETV, in which he promised to back Rail Estonia's bid for privatizing Estonian Railway and have the purchase price delivered to the government in cash, if need be.
Tallinn mayor weathers another vote
Mayor of Tallinn Jüri Mõis, on 22 March, predictably survived a no-confidence vote in the city council, the fourth such motion against the Pro Patria mayor in just a few months, with the opposition filing a fresh censure bill even before the ballots were cast.
The motion against Mõis, accusing him of threatening opposition and coalition MPs with violence, was supported by 24 out of 64 council members. Coalition deputies left the chamber during the vote.
Opposition Center Party leader Edgar Savisaar promised, on 20 March, that the municipal opposition would continue to bring motions against Mõis as long as he gave them reason to do so.
And in other news...
- The International Council for Information Technology in State Administration (ICA) decided to hold its 37th annual conference in 2003 in Estonia, thus recognizing Estonia's achievements in the application of information technology in the public sector.
- Three weeks ago, the police department in Narva launched a successful campaign to collect weapons, ammunition and explosive materials, paying EEK 50 (USD 3) per kilo. In order to avoid accidents, police have asked people not to bring in weapons and ammunition themselves but to inform police about the location of such items. The campaign has brought in all kinds of handguns, grenades and drum magazines for submachine guns, even mines from the era of the Second World War. The police department is not planning to give any of these items to museums and will destroy everything in the proper manner.
- Estonian President Lennart Meri received a letter from Joachin Milberg, board chairman of the BMW group, stating that the Muuga Port area was "unfortunately unsuitable" for BMW's new motor works.
Kristin Marmei, 23 March 2001
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