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ERR News - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has once again blasted Estonian and Latvian citizenship and language policies, this time mentioning them in a lengthy article that mostly hit out against the US and NATO. Putin's piece, "Russia and the Changing World," which appeared in Moskovskie Novosti on February 27, is the latest a series of pre-election articles he has released in the run-up to the country's March 4 presidential elections. Though most of the 6,000-word position statement lambasted Western military strategy and foreign policy, painting it as overly-agressive and irrationally anti-Russian, Estonia and Latvia were not spared Russia's traditional rap on minority rights issues.


Angry birds get that way when you forget to feed them in desperate times. At least Estonian tihased (chickadees), those spirited, curious characters who make no bones about tapping on your window pane. They don't look angry when they tap, just uudishimulikud (inquisitive). But the ones on the packages of päeva/lille/seemned (sunflower seeds) are really good at guilt-tripping. On the wrapper they ask ette/heitvalt reproachfully: "Endale ostsid küll süüa... AGA MULLE?" "You bought yourself something to eat... BUT (WHAT ABOUT) ME?" The catch phrase "Kas sina tihaseid oled toitnud?" (Have you fed the chickadees (yet)?) is well-known. If memory serves me correctly, there was a poster posing the question that made the rounds during the Soviet era. 


Washington, DC --- The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation announced on February 17,  that it will be presenting its first 2012 Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom to the first head of state of Belarus Stanislau Shushkevich. Dr. Shushkevich is renowned for his role in helping to dissolve the USSR, and for withdrawing nuclear weapons from the territory of Belarus. The Medal of Freedom is awarded each year by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation to those individuals and institutions that have demonstrated a commitment to freedom and democracy and opposition to communism and all other forms of tyranny.


In the midst of a severe winter storm when heavy snow, high winds, and ice storms caused havoc and a quarter of million households went without power, there appeared a bright star at the Beneroya Seattle Symphony Hall, Saturday night.  The Seattle audience who dared travel to downtown Seattle were treated to an elegant performance of composer Peteris Vasks’ 1998 concerto, “Distant Light”, conducted by Olari Elts, a broadly admired and talented Estonian symphony orchestra conductor.  The Seattle Times in their Monday, 23 January edition had this to say about Olari Elts: “Saturday’s performance was led by Estonian Olari Elts, 40, another of the new crop of talented up-and-coming conductors we are seeing more of these days.  


The intensive Estonian Summer Institute will again be held at the University of Pittsburgh from June 4 through July 13, 2012.  Beginning and Intermediate Estonian will be offered.  This course is open to students of any age, including juniors and seniors in high school, undergraduate and graduate students, as well as to persons of any age not currently enrolled in a college or university. Partial and full scholarship aid is available. Apply by March 16 for scholarship consideration.


Amid all the chaos, including loss of life that the extreme freeze in Europe has brought, there is nevertheless a very bright and slick, shiny side to the unseasonably cold weather. Decent jää – ice. Ukraine, which has seen the largest number of casualties, over 100 since the beginning of February, is also home to masses of ice-fishing enthusiasts, who are out in droves on frozen rivers. Postimees recently published a fairy-tale photo of skaters on the canal leading up to München's Nyphenburg Palace. Similarly dreamy, yet infrequently occuring scenarios were playing out on natural ice throughout areas with more moderate climates.


A banner seen in front of a Neste gas station in Tallinn this week features a reindeer and the smaller print reads: Soome talvediisel, Finnish winter diesel. Parim kuni -32° C juures. The best up to -32° C. And on the bottom left: Sõidame soodsalt, Let's drive profitably, i.e. for less. (Soodne = advantageous, favorable, profitable. Soodne hind is a good price. ) Diesel vehicle drivers are living on the edge here, since -32° is precisely the forecast low for most nights in Eesti for the first week of February.  Next door at the Estonian-owned Alexela gas station (Neste Oil is a Finnish company), a similar banner had been hung above the snowbanks. Instead of a põhja/põder (reindeer), its product promoter is a jää/karu (polar bear). 




January 18, 2012 --- The Estonian American National Council, Inc, (EANC) has named Linda Rink as its new Executive Director.  L. Rink will assist the Board of Directors with developing and implementing programs and strategies, and will be responsible for EANC’s day-to-day operations, including bookkeeping, marketing, and communications. Before joining EANC, Rink was President of Rink Consulting, a marketing services agency in Philadelphia.  Her industry background includes marketing positions at Hunt Corporation, Amtrak, Seagram and Quaker Oats.  She holds a B.A. degree from Harvard University and an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.


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