20 October, 2017

✔︎ President Kaljulaidi toetus on suur | President Kaljulaid has a 72.5% approval rating

✔︎ Pooled pagulased Eestist lahkunud: asekantsler tunnistab kava läbikukkumist

✔︎ Ksenia Sobchak, the daughter of the late Anatoly Sobchak (the St. Petersburg mayor who worked closely with Putin) announced her candidacy for the Russian Presidency. "Maybe she’s serious, but mainly she’s a distraction, and Putin will benefit  Anna Nemtsova
(See Sobchak listing for more stories)

✔︎ Tartu ülikool jõudis Ida-Euroopa ülikoolide hulgas 3. kohale
- Looduskalender foto:


Friday 20. 

- Neighbors and Principles: Estonia and Russia
by Marina Kaljurand
(The Moscow Times)
"When I was ambassador to Russia, for some time Estonia was Russia’s enemy number one. That was not true then and is not true today. It is regrettable that so many Russians believe false information and propaganda. But we will continue telling our story and hope that Russian people will see for themselves the benefits of democracy."

✔︎ Pooled pagulased Eestist lahkunud: asekantsler tunnistab kava läbikukkumist
"Pagulaste ümberjaotuskava alusel kahe aasta jooksul Eestisse saabunud 161 pagulasest on siit teistesse riikidesse lahkunud juba 85 ehk üle poole. Seejuures kohustus Eesti vastu võtma 550 pagulast, ent jäi endale võetud kohustusele alla enam kui kolmekordselt. Sotsiaalministeeriumi asekantsler tunnistab, et pagulaste suunamine väikelinnadesse oli viga.”

"Peresid on pannud Eesti väikelinnadest lahkuma igatsus oma kogukonna järele, samuti ei taha nad olla väikelinnas ainsad pearäti kandjad. Põlvast ei saa nad osta ka oma traditsioonidele vastavat toidu ega käia mošees, nagu nõuavad usukombed. Pagulaslaagrites olid nad oma rahvaga koos, Eestis aga tunnevad end juurtetult."

✔︎ Kaljulaidi toetus on suur
"Rahulolu aasta ametis olnud presidendiga uuris Kantar Emor tänavu oktoobris ligi 1200 15–74-aastaselt inimeselt. Koguni 72,5 protsenti leidis, et Kaljulaid on oma ametis hästi või väga hästi hakkama saanud."

Survey: 72.5% of Estonians are happy with President Kaljulaid

Editorial: Estonia needs to stop ignoring its gender pay gap
(Estonian World)
"For many years, Estonia has had the largest gender pay gap in the European Union. On average, women in Estonia earn just 73 per cent of what men make working in the same position. And despite the fact that this issue is brought up again and again, very little has been done to alleviate it."
"Finding a solution to this problem is in the hands of the national government and society at large – it’s not alright to discriminate women and measures need to be taken to deal with the issue."

PaperGender Wage Gaps in Estonia and Latvia
(European Commission)

- Europe’s glass ceiling


"Not a single country in the Council of Europe that agreed to fill at least 40 percent of top jobs in public life with women has met that goal in the 14 years since, according to a report released Tuesday. … At every level, the more senior the position, the worse the gender imbalance.”

- Telliskivi Creative City
(Atlas Obscura)
"Telliskivi allowed Tallinn’s artists and free spirits to reclaim a neglected part of their city. The Telliskivi Creative City breathed new life into a drab former factory complex that originally popped up around the old Baltic Railway tracks."

Meedia: "Aktuaalse kaamera" töötajad pole rahul uue juhtimisstiiliga

(Postimees | Delfi | Õhtuleht)

“Probleemne olukord on ERRis valitsenud juba aastaid ...”
"ERR töötaja: Meile ei selgitata ega põhjendata midagi, lihtsalt öeldi, et saame endale head juhid.”
Media: Staff in an Uproar Over Changes at ERR | ETV
“… the sudden layoff of long-time news anchor Kadri Hinrikus … released a storm of indignation that had been brewing in the editorial (staff) of “Aktuaalne kaamera” for some time … the new head of ERR TV news Liisu Lass had to survive a loud verbal attack from other anchors, which she countered with an emotional tirade of her own. … the program’s editorial staff were left anxious and depressed as a result."


Thursday 19. 

- Moscow Faces Enormous Obstacles in Restoring Kaliningrad as a Military Outpost
by Paul Goble
(Window on Eurasia)
“… to restore what Russia itself for decades has destroyed will require enormous efforts, possibly more than Moscow can currently afford … “aviation regiments will be restored only on paper. In reality, they will be hollow.” 

- Putin Accuses U.S. Of Military Buildup In Baltics, But Says 'It Doesn't Worry Us’


"It doesn't worry us. Let them train there. Everything is under control."

- Putin: me ei muretse NATO kohaloleku suurenemise pärast meie piiridel
"Meile see muret ei tekita. Las harjutavad. Kõik on kontrolli all."

- Uued piirid, aga vana tava jätkub: maapiirkondades võimutsesid valimisliidu
"2017. aasta kohalike valimiste tulemustest selgub, et maapiirkondade inimesed eelistasid traditsiooniliselt valimisliite."

- University of Tartu is #3 in QS EECA University Rankings

- Tartu ülikool jõudis Ida-Euroopa ülikoolide hulgas 3. kohale

- Narva: Caught between two worlds?
(Open Democracy)
“In Ida-Virumaa, a border region with Narva at its centre, a place where more than 80% of residents are ethnic Russians, Estonia’s Center Party retained its majority in the local council, winning 23 out of 31 seats. There was nothing unexpected in either its victory or the traditionally low (46.7%) local voter turnout."
[As mentioned in the above article, a 65-year-old Russian citizen indeed unsuccessfully attempted to set himself on fire. The police are familiar with this individual - his motive for doing so was not clear.]  As per ERR:

Could Estonia be the first 'digital' country?

- Why Europe isn’t worried by Austria’s right tilt (but should be)
(Politico-Europe | CNN)
"Sebastian Kurz, the 31-year-old leader of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), is set to lead a right-leaning coalition that includes the far-right Freedom Party. The last time Austria’s populists won more than a quarter of the vote and played kingmaker, in 1999, the other EU members isolated Vienna through bilateral sanctions. But what shocked EU leaders then is barely causing a stir now.”

- The Meteoric Rise of Sebastian Kurz
(Spiegel | ABCNews)
"Spending time with the 31-year-old Kurz - whether in Vienna, at a European Union summit in Tallinn, or on the main stage in New York, between Donald Trump and Henry Kissinger - reveals a political professional who hides his hunger for power behind meticulous manners and his tough core beneath his soft features. Kurz thinks several steps ahead, like a chess player, including the resonance he hopes to get in the media."


Wednesday 18. 

✔︎ Kuidas Torm Ophelia Eestisse tumepunase taeva tõi
(Postimees | ERR)
"Eile üle Eesti meeldejäävaid vaateid ja ebatavalist punakat keskpäevast hämarust pakkunud ilma taga oli teatavasti orkaan Ophelia."
"Facebooki aiandushuvilisi koondavas grupis Aiaelu jagab üks kasutaja fotosid kummalisest vahust, mis tema kodu vihmaveerennidesse kogunenud on."

- Why return of expats is false hope for Latvia’s labor problems
"At least 9,500 people should return to Latvia from abroad every year in order to compensate the expected shortage of labor. Currently, the number of returned expats is half of that and an exodus continues."

- Lithuania Set To Publish KGB Agent Reports
“... handwritten reports by Soviet era agents will 'allow the public to get a more precise view of the activities of KGB agents.' The reports were signed using aliases to maintain the secrecy of the agent’s identity. A rather significant number of such documents exist in the Lithuanian Special Archive.”

- Russian journalists publish massive investigation into St. Petersburg troll factory's U.S. operations
"The Internet Research Agency, Russia’s infamous “troll farm,” reportedly devoted up to a third of its entire staff to meddling in U.S. politics during the 2016 presidential election. At the peak of the campaign, as many as 90 people were working for the IRA’s U.S. desk, sources told RBC, revealing that the entire agency employs upwards of 250 people.”
"Formally, the Internet Research Agency ceased to exist roughly two years ago, rebranding itself under different names, but sources say the organization continues to operate as before."


Tuesday 17. 

✔︎ Torm Ophelia kandis koos Sahara tolmuga Eestisse pimeduse
(Postimees | ERR)
"Täna lõuna paiku vallutasid Tallinna taeva ronkmustad pilved ning kohati oli ka äikest. Satelliidipiltide andmetel jõudis Eestisse Portugali tulekahjude suitsu ja tahma ning osaliselt ka Sahara tolmu."

- Viking Line closes high-speed ferry season early
"One of the engines of Viking FSTR, a catamaran ferry originally expected to operate on the Tallinn-Helsinki route until Oct. 22, is damaged and forced the company to cancel its crossings …"

- Responding to Russia’s Resurgence
(Foreign Affairs)
"The first signs of this shift came, unexpectedly, in a speech Putin delivered at the Munich Security Conference in 2007. He railed against NATO expansion and accused the United States of running roughshod over the sovereignty of other countries in its pursuit of a unipolar world. … That same year, Russia exploited internal disagreements between ethnic Russians and Estonians to launch a cyberattack against Estonia’s government, media outlets, and banking system."

Commentary: Farewell, Russian World
by Brian Whitmore
“… the so-called Russian World is largely a fiction manufactured by Kremlin spin doctors. … We've seen it in Russophone cities in Ukraine like Odesa, Kharkiv, Dnipro, and Mariupol. … And we're also seeing it with the thousands of Russian citizens who have emigrated to the Baltic states and Ukraine, who have worked hard to become constructive members of those societies, and who have made it clear that they are not interested in being part of Vladimir Putin's Russian World."


Monday 16. 

- Estonia's ruling Center Party wins municipal election
"Prime Minister Juri Ratas on Monday declared victory for his centrist party that took 27.3 percent of all votes cast in 79 local councils across the nation, beating independent candidates and coalitions that came second with 26.8 percent of votes. The center-right Reform Party came third with 19.5 percent of votes."

Analysis: Ratas holding keys to Center Party, Savisaar history
"Former long-time Center Party chairman and mayor of Tallinn Edgar Savisaar is now history and has freed the party from the pressure of his political past …"

- Ratas: Center Party may stop paying salary to Savisaar
"While in the past Savisaar regularly got tens of thousands of votes, this time around he only got 3,621."

- Children of Baltic Refugees to Britain are Rediscovering Their Roots
by Emily Gilbert
(Deep Baltic)

- "Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians in Britain

Commentary: Russia's tactics will evolve
by Edward Lucas
"Disruptive “DDoS” cyber-attacks worked against Estonia in 2007 and Georgia in 2008. Since then, Russia has adopted much more sophisticated forms of cyber attack, such as those on the Ukrainian power grid in 2015 and 2016."
"Russia has also moved away from the crude hacking-and-leaking attacks that worked so well in the United States last year. They failed in the French presidential election, and were not even tried in Germany last month. Similarly, it is still possible that that the Kremlin will stoke and exploit an insurrection in some ethnically Russian part of Estonia or Latvia. But I think that is highly unlikely. I also think Russia is increasingly unlikely to ever launch a military offensive of the kind it rehearsed during this year’s Zapad exercise."
"We should continue to try to reduce still further the risks of such attacks. But much greater attention should go into identifying and countering the next generation of Russian tactics."

- Documentary about the Baltic nations’ path to independence premiered in London
(Estonian World)


Ksenia Sobchak
For President!
(But Putin wins anyway ...)

Ksenia Sobchak, Russian Socialite, Enters Race to 'Challenge' Putin
(New York Times | AP | others)
"The journalist, Ksenia A. Sobchak, 35, announced her presidential run in a video online on YouTube and also published a letter in Vedomosti, Russia’s main business daily.”

"She is the daughter of the late Anatoly Sobchak, the St. Petersburg mayor, who worked closely with Vladimir Putin in the 1990s and whom many consider to be the Russian president's mentor." [Some media reports claim that Putin is Ms. Sobchak's godfather.]

- Is the Russian Opposition’s ‘Paris Hilton’ Really the Kremlin’s ‘Kim Kardashian’?

by Anna Nemtsova

"Maybe she’s serious, but mainly she’s a distraction, and Putin will benefit.”

- Prominent Russians react to Ksenia Sobchak's presidential campaign

- Sobtšak on ka varasemalt Putini režiimile olulisi teeneid osutanud

"Russian opposition figures say Ksenia Sobchak’s presidential bid is a Kremlin-organized sham."

- Who's Paying for Sobchak's $17M Presidential Campaign?

- What’s Behind Ksenia Sobchak’s 'Against All' Bid for the Presidency?

“… Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, denied that the Kremlin has encouraged Ksenia Sobchak to run."

- Navalnõi: Sobtšaki kandidatuuri taga on Kreml
(Postimees | BBC)
"Neil on Putinile vaja karikatuuri liberaalsest kandidaadist, eriti kui mul ei lasta kandideerida. Nad tõenäoliselt, mõtlevad, et: «Me ei luba Navalnõil kandideerida, sest ta on kriminaalist äärmuslane, aga näe, siin on Ksenia Sobtšak. Ta räägib kõike, mida opositsioon kuulda tahab."
"Alexei Navalny … dismissed Ksenia Sobchak as a Kremlin stooge, a "liberal laughing stock" and an opposition "caricature", brought in to lend legitimacy to a sham vote. He scorned her as a showbiz celebrity, only seeking social media "likes" and followers."

2012 Article: "Ksenia Sobchak, the Stiletto in Putin’s Side"

(New York Times - 2012)

“I’m not a politician. At least not yet.”



Trust No One"


- Global Warming Threatens Moscow’s Arctic Development Plans and the Lives of People There
by Paul Goble
(Window on Eurasia)
"According to experts ... 'everything that has been built' up to now or may be built in Russia’s North may collapse as the result either of unexpected subsidence as the permafrost melts or explosions from methane gas released as part of that process. … the first gas bubbles that threaten to explode were identified three years ago. Now, some 7,000 of these dangerous places have been identified ..."

Washington Post

- 7,000 underground methane gas bubbles poised to 'explode' in Arctic
(Siberian Times | Washington Post | Forbes)
"The Ural branch of Russian Academy of Science says that thawing permafrost is a suspected reason for the cause of underground gas bubble formation."

- How a Russian Firm Might Have Siphoned Tools from the NSA
(The Intercept)
“Kaspersky Lab has come under intense scrutiny after its antivirus software was linked to the breach of an NSA employee’s home computer in 2015 by Russian government hackers; U.S. government sources, quoted in news reports, suggested the Moscow-based company colluded with the hackers to steal classified documents or tools from the worker’s machine, or at least turned a blind eye to this activity."
"Initial reports suggested the Russian hackers siphoned the files by hijacking Kaspersky software installed on the NSA employee’s machine - without the antivirus firm’s knowledge. But subsequent stories in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal include assertions or suggestions that the company was complicit."

- Women in banned jobs
(Calvert Journal)
"Nadya and Yulia are a couple of avowed feminists living together with their three children in Moscow. Their profession is illegal, and not only because they receive commissions through VK, or because the company they run isn’t registered. It’s illegal because they are women.”
"Like many other women in Russia, Nadya and Yulia were vaguely aware of the Labor Code’s infamous Article 253, but never thought it would actually concern them. Though Article 3 of the same code officially protects women from being discriminated against in the workplace, a couple of hundred paragraphs later, a discordant article, a vestige of Soviet times, effectively bars them from no less than 456 professions. The law has been left mostly unchanged from a time when sparing women from hazardous jobs indicated social progress, but also an ominous state interest in their reproductive functions; today it comes across as absurd and obsolete." 

- Moscow gets a much needed facelift. But is it worth the cost?
(Christian Science Monitor)

- Russians Don’t Understand Why Anyone Is Upset With ‘Girl Crazy’ Weinstein
(Foreign Policy)
"In Putin’s Russia, discussion of sexual harassment and domestic violence are largely taboo.”

- Why Russian Women Don't Want to Talk About Harvey Weinstein
(The Moscow Times)
"Harassment is also widespread in Russia. But Russians would rather not frame it that way."

- How the Russians pretended to be Texans - and Texans believed them
(Washington Post)
[How Russians on Facebook Took Texas Secessionists For a Ride.]
(The “Heart of Texas” Facebook page) ... was no joke. At one point the page’s organizers even managed to stir up its followers into staging an armed, anti-Islamic protest in Houston. As gradually became clear, this was part of a broader strategy. The sponsors of the page were keen to exacerbate America’s own internal divisions. At certain moments they lent support to Black Lives Matter, while in others they would play to the latent (or obvious) racism of Donald Trump’s base.”
"Though the site’s authors understood their audience well, there was something off about their writing. The page’s “About” section proclaimed that “Texas’s the land protected by Lord [sic].” Grammatical and spelling glitches were everywhere ..."

- Ukraine Struggles to Retain Presence in Azov Sea

(Jamestown Org.)

"By finalizing the construction of the Kerch Bridge, Russia is completing its geopolitical project of fully cutting the Crimean Peninsula off from mainland Ukraine.”

“Moscow’s de facto control of both sides of the Kerch Strait, combined with its activities that limit freedom of navigation for Ukrainian vessels there, essentially turn the Azov Sea into a “Russian lake.” As such, Russia is progressively pushing to deprive Ukraine of its economic and political sovereignty in and around the Azov Sea."

- Is Putin about to Build an Expensive Bridge to a Nowhere He’s Creating?
(Window on Eurasia)

- Putin Treads Where Stalin Failed With Plan for Mega-Project
"Speaking in September in the Pacific port city of Vladivostok, Putin touted the bridge plan for Sakhalin as one of several new transport links proposed for the region that “would combine to produce a project on a planetary scale.”
"Such mega-projects have become a signature plank of Putin’s economic policy as he approaches what may be his final term in the Kremlin."

- Opinion: Russian Money Talks. America Was All Ears.
by Leonid Bershidsky
"The biggest Russian threat to Western institutions doesn't come from disinformation or the clever use of social networks but from a certain kind of money that, by its very nature, corrupts everything it touches."

- A Successful Failure: Russia After Crimea
(Intersection Magazine)
“The aim of this book is to provide an analysis of these trends providing a road map for anyone seeking to understand the workings of “post-Crimean” Russia. It includes studies of Russia–West relations, the role of sanctions, Western policy towards Ukraine, anti-Americanism, Russia’s military doctrine, the fate of its army’s modernization plans, migration, the increasing “weaponization” of history, and the government’s attempts to build a new “Crimean consensus” with Russian society, a reworked social contract emphasizing traditional values and a vastly different understanding of human rights to that in the West."