✔︎ Setumaa: While driving on a quiet gravel road in southern Eesti my journalist friend and I caught sight of the black and white posts marking the border with Russia. We parked the car and hiked a half-kilometer to one of the Estonian posts standing in the quiet field to take photos (one photo is above - notice also the red Russian border post). At that point we were approximately 33 air-miles (54.18 km) from the major Russian military force located in and around Pskov, Russia. As we were walking back to the car a green Estonian Border Patrol SUV (Piirivalve) with two uniformed men, armed and wearing kevlar vests, drove up. After a polite check of our Estonian ID cards (and seeing we were not smugglers nor little green men) we were sent on our way. Interesting encounter.
- Enamiku ebaseaduslike piiriületuste taga on hooletus
"Poolaastaga avastasid piirivalvurid üle poolesaja ebaseadusliku piiriületuse, millest suurem osa juhtus hooletult Peipsil navigeerinud paadijuhtide või piiriäärset ala külastanud turistidega."
- Related: Lithuania's fence on Kaliningrad border
(Deutsche Welle video)
✔︎ Metsavendade lugu varjati liiga kaua
"Rootsi endine välisminister Carl Bildt ütles, et Nõukogude okupantidega võidelnud Leedu ja teiste Baltimaade metsavendade lugu on mujal Euroopas liiga kaua maha vaikitud."
✔︎ Special Listing: Poland on the Path to Dictatorship?
"As Poland's ruling party moves to take control of the country's high court, protesters are taking to the streets and European Union officials are warning of the possibility of sanctions."
✔︎ 'Off-Topic’: U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher
"Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and his staff have long been hospitable to Russians agitating to revoke or modify the Magnitsky Act, the 2012 statute imposing sanctions against Russia …"
Friday 21. July
- Eesti uus haldusjaotus
[Interactive map showing the new administrative divisions of Eesti.]
- Esimesed kuus valda pöördusid sundliitmise vastu riigikohtusse
- Vaid viiendik uuendas ID-kaardi sertifikaate
"Juuni lõpuks pidi ligi 500 000 inimest uuendama oma ID-kaardi sertifikaate, riigi infosüsteemi ameti (RIA) andmetel tegi seda vaid viiendik."
- Eesti Pank eelistab investeerida kulla asemel võlakirjadesse
"Eesti riigi kullavarud on ühed väiksemad maailmas, jäädes kümneid kordi alla ka naabrite Läti ja Leedu omadele. Eesti Pank eelistab kulla asemel hoida oma reserve pigem arenenud riikide võlakirjades, sest kulda hinnatakse liiga kõikuvaks."
- Arvamus: Väike-Vene riik 2.0. Miks nüüd?
"Väike-Vene riigi väljakuulutamine oli mõeldud suitsukattena Ida-Ukraina kohal alla lastud Malaysian Airlinesi lennuga MH17 seotud halbadele uudistele, kirjutab oma blogis Tallinna Ülikooli semiootikaprofessor Mihhail Lotman."
- Zapad 2017: The dangerous tool of Russian military exercises
(CEPA - 9 May 2017)
“Today, Georgia. Tomorrow, Ukraine. The day after, the Baltic states, and later perhaps the time will come for my country, Poland!”
"Those words were uttered 5 August 2008 by Poland’s late president, Lech Kaczyński, in the presence of five European heads of state who had come to Tbilisi in a gesture of solidarity with the just-invaded Georgia. Almost 10 years later, this statement anticipates Europe’s current security dilemma. These days, pundits are increasingly speculating on what Russia’s next large-scale military exercise, code-named Zapad-2017, may bring."
Thursday 20. July
- Metsavendade lugu varjati liiga kaua - Rootsi eksvälisminister
"Rootsi endine välisminister Carl Bildt ütles, et Nõukogude okupantidega võidelnud Leedu ja teiste Baltimaade metsavendade lugu on mujal Euroopas liiga kaua maha vaikitud."
- Vene diplomaati ärritas Balti riikide metsavendi kaitsev avaldus
- Swedish statesman moves in on 'forest brothers’ debate
- Eesti loobub senisest kõrgussüsteemist ja hakkab kõrgusi arvutama Amsterdami nulli järgi
"Uuele süsteemile üleminekul muutuvad praegused kõrgusväärtused seepärast, et enne arvutati kõrgused Kroonlinna merevaatlusjaamas mõõdetud keskmise veetaseme järgi (aastatel 1825–1840), nüüd aga Amsterdami merevaatlusjaama mõõtmiste järgi (aastatel 1683–1684)."
- Estonia gets taller after changing measurement system
(Atlas Obscura | BBC | Calvert Journal)
“Parts of estonia will soon be between six and nine-and-a-half inches taller after the country said this week that they will stop using a Russian standard for sea level and change to the system used across Western Europe.”
- Arvamus: USA peaks lõpetama kahepoolsed militaarsuhted Eestiga
"Oma kirjutises "Ameerika alistamine meie oma mängus: Kuidas Venemaa saab kasutada demokraatiat, et mõjutada Eestit ja õõnestada NATO liitlassuhteid" leiab Zilhaver oma õpitu ja kogetu põhjal, et Eesti on liitunud NATO-ga liialt kiiresti pärast NSVL-i lagunemist ning siinne vene elanikkond on äärmiselt kergesti Moskva infovälja poolt mõjutatav."
- Opinion: How Russia Can Use Democracy to Influence Estonia and Undermine the NATO Alliance
(Small Wars Journal)
- USA Euroopa maavägede ülem: vale aeg on olla ilma suursaadikuteta
- Setud külastasid Siberis elavaid setusid
"Esimest korda külastasid Eestimaa setud Venemaal Krasnojarski krais elavaid setusid: käesoleval kuul käidi Haidaki ja Bulatnovka külas ja Krasnojarski linnas."
- Arstid diagnoosisid USA senaatoril John McCainil ajuvähi
(ERR | Washington Post)
"Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, his office said Wednesday, throwing into doubt when and if he will return to Washington to resume his duties in the Senate."
Wednesday 19. July
- World’s Most High-Tech Voting System to Get New Hacking Defenses
By Ott Ummelas
“Estonia … is taking steps to fend off potential hacking attacks … A software overhaul for the system, introduced in 2005, is ready for testing before local elections in October, according to Tarvi Martens, the National Electoral Committee’s head of e-voting. The upgrade includes anti-tampering features known as end-to-end verifiability that addresses security concerns from groups such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, he said."
“End-to-end verifiability is the ‘Holy Grail’ for electronic voting,” Martens said this month in a phone interview. “When we talk about international criticism, the new software now addresses it.”
- Estonia’s system is very different from that of the U.S.
"The attacks on America included incursions into voter databases and software systems. … The problems in the U.S. aren’t about internet voting - they’re about voting machines,” Martens said. “There are a lot of machines and no one is able to oversee the software that goes into each one. With internet voting, there’s a single piece of software that can be controlled.”
- Online Voting Isn’t as Flawed as You Think - Just Ask Estonia
(IEEE - October 2016)
"Why does the Estonian system work so well? One key reason stems from the government’s decision to begin issuing in 2002 electronic identification cards, which are credit-card-size ID cards embedded with a chip and protected by multiple pass codes. More recently, it has also started to hand out SIM-based mobile IDs linked to citizens’ smartphones. These electronic and mobile IDs are currently carried by 1.2 million Estonians (or 94 percent of the country’s population) and help Estonians file their tax returns and apply for jobs."
- Paper: Verifiable Internet Voting in Estonia
- Paper: Security Analysis of the Estonian Internet Voting System
- ECFR paigutab Eesti kõige Lääne-meelsemate riikide hulka Euroopas
- ECFR ranks Estonia among most pro-Western countries in Europe
- Russia, anti-Westernism, and Europe’s political parties
- Estonian Cinamon theatre chain expands into Finland
"Finnish cinemas will get a new competitor in autumn 2018 when the Estonian Cinamon chain is set to open its first movie complex on Finnish soil, in Helsinki. The new movie house will be built in the coming Redi shopping centre in Kalasatama."
- Hungary: NATO allies are worried about expanding Russian intelligence operations
Tuesday 18. July
- Estonians in the UK: Britain looking to reach an agreement on EU citizens’ rights
- EU citizens in the UK
- The rights of EU citizens in Britain, and British citizens in the EU, are suddenly up for negotiation
- Many Poles feel unwanted in the UK
- Eesti tahab liitlastelt võimsat õhutõrjesüsteemi
"Kaitseminister Jüri Luik märkis väljaandele Bloomberg antud intervjuus, et Eesti peab läbirääkimisi saamaks siia piirkonda liitlaste õhutõrjesüsteeme, mis püsiksid siin pikka aega.”
- Russia's NATO Neighbor in Talks Over Anti-Aircraft Weapons
"While air-defense systems have been stationed in the Baltic nation temporarily during military exercises, the government is holding “working-level” talks for a longer-term presence since it can’t afford to purchase them itself, according to Defense Minister Juri Luik. Estonia is also expecting more NATO troops to arrive as Russia and Belarus hold drills in September that have in the past simulated an attack on the Baltic region."
- Lithuanian president calls for permanent Patriot deployment
“… permanent placement of the Patriot surface-to-air missile system in the Baltic states would be “appropriate”.
- Kui hästi sa tead Vabadussõjaga seonduvat?
- Merepäevad lõppesid vaatemängulise mereparaadiga
(ERR | Delfi)
"Esmakordselt pealinna ajaloos tõid merepäevad Tallinna lahele suurejoonelise The Tall Ships Races purjelaevastiku, kuhu kuulub enam kui 50 purjelaeva.”
- A poisonous tale of disinformation in Tallinn
[Discusses a report in Kremlin-friendly ‘Baltnews' regarding Edgar Savisaar.]
- Finnish grave hunter brings over 100 war dead home from Russia for burial
“(80 year old) Savonlinna resident Ismo Mikkonen has been combing the area for decades in search of the remains of Finnish soldiers. By Mikkonen's count, the forest still conceals the remains of at least 15 servicemen. … Mikkonen scans the ground, especially focusing on birch trees. "Birch often grows on ground that contains human remains," he explained, referencing his experiences in Aunus or Olonets, a district in Russian Karelia. … After Finland's Winter and Continuation Wars with Russia, some 12,000 fallen soldiers remained unburied on the battlefield. Finns have been able to go in search of their war dead since 1992, when Finland and Russia struck a bilateral agreement on the matter."
- Little Russia: Ukraine separatists proclaim new state
(Deutsche Welle | Christian Science Monitor)
"Rebel forces in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday announced that they plan to hold a referendum calling for the creation of a new state known as Malorossiya, which translates as "Little Russia."
- Isehakanud Donetski "rahvavabariik" kuulutas välja Väike-Vene riigi
Monday 17. July
- NATO, Russian Troops Rattle Swords Along Hundreds of Miles of Borderland
"The Kremlin claims about 12,700 troops will be active in Belarus and Russia for Zapad. But experts and NATO officials say Moscow is more likely to conduct a series of engagements that will swell those ranks by tens of thousands."
- Chinese warships en route to Baltic Sea
"Russia and China are scheduled to hold their next joint naval drill, dubbed "Joint Sea," in the European inner sea from July 24 to 27. According to the Russian defense ministry, China's naval fleet will to arrive in the Baltic Sea port of Baltiysk in the Russian province of Kaliningrad."
- USA toob Balti riikidesse Vene suurõppuse Zapad 2017 ajaks 600 sõdurit
“… kindralleitnant Ben Hodges ütles et USA on mures võimaliku Vene pealetungi pärast NATO idatiival Balti riikides septembris toimuva Venemaa suurõppuse Zapad 2017 ajal …”
"Õppus on vahetult seotud Suwalki käiguga Leedust Poola ja tal on kõige pikem piir Valgevene ja Venemaaga ehk nende riikidega, kes õppused läbi viivad," selgitas Erukindral Ants Laaneots. "See on signaal Moskvale, et oleme siin ja kui midagi juhtub, siis sekkume. Valgevene pole huvitatud konfliktidest ja provokatsioonidest."
- U.S. concerned about Baltic incidents in forthcoming Russian war games
(Reuters | ERR)
"When (Russia) went into Crimea, that was against the backdrop of an exercise. When they went into Georgia - that was an exercise", Lieutenant General Ben Hodges told Reuters. "Their history is full of examples where they don't live up to any treaties ... They routinely violate those things."
- It's time for a comprehensive response to hybrid threats
"Two things in particular are missing in our research and analysis. One is a comprehensive response. Our adversaries attack every part of our society, moving seamlessly and flexibly between different tactics and techniques. Hampered by habits, rules and other obstacles, we too often lack a “joined-up” response to this threat. The second problem is that hybrid threats do not respect national boundaries, whereas our responses—such as they are—tend to be at the national-government level. We urgently need to increase and improve cross-border cooperation."
- Rongiliiklus Tallinna ja Pärnu vahel peatatakse
"Tänasel väljasõiduistungil, mis keskendus Eesti raudteetaristu hetkeolukorrale ja tulevikule, otsustas valitsus 2019. aastast sulgeda raudteeliikluse Lelle-Pärnu lõigul, mis tähendab, et kuni Rail Balticu valmimiseni enam otse rongiga Tallinnast Pärnusse ei saa."
- Pärnu spaajuht: raudtee on praegu nii kehvas seisus, et turistid suvepealinna rongiga praktiliselt ei sõitnudki
- Estonian Government to Close Pärnu Railway in 2019
"The last train will leave from Lelle to Pärnu and back on December 31, 2018; rail traffic to Pärnu will be discontinued from January 1 until the completion of Rail Baltic, the government decided at its July 17 session, which discussed the future of railways in Estonia."
- The tunnel network of Helsinki
Jos vihollinen hyökkäisi, piilee Helsingin alla valtava etu
(Ilta-Sanomat - in Finnish)
[Ilta-Sanomat features a piece on domestic security, following an article in the Wall Street Journal about the 200-odd kilometres of underground tunnels crisscrossing beneath Helsinki. The passages offer an important tactical advantage, should the city ever be attacked. - Yle]
- Finland builds massive underground city to prepare for invasion
- Estonia Denies Politics Behind Taking Russian Girl Into Care
- Poland -
- Poland on the Path to Dictatorship
"Imagine a government deciding one day that the country’s supreme court is corrupt and needs to be purged completely. A bill is introduced that will force all of the court’s judges to retire and be replaced—and it is pushed through with lightning speed and without regard for procedures. Unthinkable? Yet this is exactly what is happening here in Poland, until recently considered one of the biggest success stories of democratic transition in Eastern Europe.”
"This month the government’s most authoritarian tendencies were encouraged by the July 6 visit of the U.S. President, and now a different sort of transition is underway—to what some call a “hybrid dictatorship.”
- Poola senat hääletab kohtureformi üle
- The US President praised Poland. But their democracy is unraveling.
(Vox | Carnegie Europe | PRI | BNE)
"On Thursday, lawmakers in the lower house of the Polish parliament voted in favor of a controversial bill that would give the government complete control over the Supreme Court. The bill would essentially grant the ruling party the power to appoint new Supreme Court judges and calls for the immediate dismissal of the court’s current judges, except those who had been chosen by President Andrzej Duda."
- Poola parlament kiitis heaks vastuolulise kohtureformi
"Poola seadusandjad kiitsid täna heaks ülemkohtu vastuolulise reformi, seda hoolimata päevi kestnud tänavameeleavaldustest, opositsiooni murest kohtute sõltumatuse pärast ja Euroopa Liidu sanktsioonideähvardusest."
- Thousands protest in Poland after controversial Supreme Court bill passed
- Effort To Take Control Of The Courts Inspires Protests
- Protests Against Judicial Reforms Continue In Warsaw
- Opinion: Poland’s authoritarian drift
"The EU should use its leverage to lean on Warsaw."
- Poland calls Brussels warning over court reforms ‘premature'
- EU may not stop democratic slide in Poland but Warsaw risks consequences
(Reuters | Politico | others)
- Russia and Poland Lock Horns Over Warsaw's Monuments Law: 'Appalling Provocation’
"Under the legislation, dates, names and mentions of events that are deemed to glorify events that produced victims of totalitarian regimes will be removed from some public monuments."
- Russia and Poland Feud Over Demolition of Soviet War Monuments
"On June 22, Polish President Andrzej Duda approved amendments to an anti-propaganda law that would lead to the tearing down of Soviet-era monuments, which the Polish side has described as “symbols of a totalitarian regime.” In an official statement released Tuesday, Russia's Foreign Ministry described the move as an "outrageous provocation.” … “The Polish authorities, undoubtedly, are well aware of how insulting their actions are to the Russian people.”
- Russia -
“Trust No One"
- Putin Determined To Have Magnitsky Act Repealed
"U.S.-born British investor Bill Browder was one of the driving forces behind the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 U.S. law that authorizes sanctions against human rights abusers in Russia."
- When the Kremlin Says ‘Adoptions,’ It Means ‘Sanctions’
(New York Times)
"Understanding the connections between adoptions and sanctions offers a lens into the worldview and foreign policy goals of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, and into how even a meeting that really did focus primarily on adoption would also have been about much more.”
"It might not seem obvious what sanctions have to do with American parents’ adoptions of Russian children … The context is the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 American law that freezes the assets held in the United States by Russian officials responsible for human rights abuses."
✔︎ Books that try to explain Putin and his Russia
(The Washington Post)
- Putin’s own 2000 campaign autobiography “First Person”
- David Remnick’s 1994 book on the Soviet collapse “Lenin’s Tomb”
- “The Oligarchs” by David Hoffman depicted the looting of the state (2002)
- Strobe Talbott's “The Russia Hand” (2003)
- “Iron Curtain” by Anne Applebaum (2012)
- Timothy Snyder’s 2010 book “Bloodlands”
- Edward Lucas' “The New Cold War” (2008)
- Masha Gessen’s “The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia” (coming fall 2017)
- A Guide to Russia’s Diplomatic Properties in Washington D.C.
"The Russian Embassy still has buildings spread throughout the nation’s capital, but that wasn’t by grand design. … there was no plan to buy buildings in different parts of the city. … during the Cold War, the Soviet government bought what it could when it could — at market price and with the U.S. government’s approval."
- 5 Big Issues With the Putin Meetings
by Ian Bremmer
- Miks on Putini ja U.S. Presidenti salakohtumine problemaatiline?
"Kahe riigipea vahelist vestlust tõlkis ainult üks Vene tõlk. Jutu sisu kohta pole midagi teada ja sarnaselt ametliku kohtumisega pole ka selle kohta mingit protokolli."
- The U.S. President's embrace of Russia making top advisers wary
“The President’s persistent overtures toward Russia are placing him increasingly at odds with his national security and foreign policy advisers, who have long urged a more cautious approach to dealing with the foreign adversary."
"The uneasy dynamic between the president and top aides has been exacerbated by the revelation this week of an extended dinner conversation between the president and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the recent summit in Germany. The previously undisclosed conversation, which occurred a few hours after their official bilateral meeting, raised red flags with advisers already concerned by the president’s tendency to shun protocol and press ahead with outreach toward Russia, according to two U.S. officials and three top foreign officials.”
- No one ever truly retires from Russian intelligence
(New York Post)
"Moscow’s security services are like the mob: Once you’re in, you’re in for life. Whether the “former” spy or hit man is doing billion-dollar deals through Cypriot banks or running a tanning parlor in Murmansk, when the capo di capo calls, the game’s back on."
- Russia Ranked Among Worst Countries to Be a Pensioner
"The Natixis Global Retirement Index ranks Russia 40th out of 43 countries …"
- Budget Cuts Seriously Constraining Modernization, Expansion of Russian Sub Fleet
(Window on Eurasia)
"At present, there are “formally” 26 multi-purpose submarines in the Russian navy, but “half of them” are either being refitted or scheduled to be refitted. And those on service ... only about half are fully capable of performing in the absence of upgrading."
- How Has Supporting the U.S. President Worked Out for Russia?
(New York Magazine)
- Off Topic:
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher
“… most vociferous defender of
Russian interests in Congress.”
- ‘Putin’s Favorite Congressman’
(New York Magazine | McClatchy | Politico)
"Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and his staff have long been hospitable to Russians agitating to revoke or modify the Magnitsky Act, the 2012 statute imposing sanctions against Russia as punishment for the murder of a corruption whistleblower of that name. And accounts of Rohrabacher’s pro-Russia activities are dotted with references to the former Russian military counterintelligence agent (and now naturalized U.S. citizen) Rinat Akhmetshin, one of the key figures who attended the famous meeting with Junior, and a global opposition research specialist with a taste for information obtained by hacking."
"Rohrabacher visited Russia last year and met with close Putin associates, some of whom were very focused (as is Putin) on overturning sanctions the Magnistky Act created. When he returned home, Rohrabacher helped anti-Magnitsky lobbyists — including Akhmetshin — make contacts. The Orange County Republican wanted to make another trip to Russia this year in his capacity as chairman of the Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats, but full House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce put the kibosh on that."
- Russian Anti-Sanctions Campaign Turned to California Congressman
"U.S. diplomats were concerned about Russian outreach to House Republican Dana Rohrabacher while on a trip to Moscow last year.”
- Rep. Rohrabacher was lobbied by the former Soviet military intelligence officer who attended Trump Jr. meeting
(Los Angeles Times)
- GOP Lawmaker Got Direction From Moscow, Took It Back to D.C.
(The Daily Beast)
"After being given a secret document by officials in Moscow, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher sought to alter sanctions legislation and tried to set up a virtual show trial on Capitol Hill."
- Putin-friendly U.S. congressman gets boost from House majority leader
"Rep. Dana Rohrabacher who is perhaps the staunchest defender of Russia in Congress, is under fire from his Democratic opponents for his friendliness toward Putin and assortment of connections to various Russian figures."
- Top Rohrabacher Aide Is Ousted After Russia Revelations
"Behrends accompanied Rohrabacher on a 2016 trip to Moscow in which Rohrabacher said he received anti-Magnitsky Act materials from prosecutors."
- GOP Aide, Paul Behrends, Ousted After Russia Links Exposed
- Rohrabacher Staffer at the Center of the Russia Intrigue
"Meet Paul Behrends, an aide to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher whose friendliness toward Moscow is raising hackles on Capitol Hill."
- Dana Rohrabacher dismisses new report on request he got from Russia as a 'nothing burger’