The Tallinn commuter train service is just great. I live well outside the capital and do not visit it too often. It makes sense to buy a single ticket rather than having a monthly card.
I do not need to have cash with me on board. There is a card I can upload either money or travel time to. Debet card payments are not accepted on board but other than that, I am happy.
Last time I uploaded balance to my rail card, it did not work with Firefox. Chrome was the only of my options to work. Of course I complained in Twitter.
Uploading yesterday, I detected suddenly that there was no problem with Firefox. The Elektriraudtee have a Twitter account of their own and it seems they follow feedback as well. Not to mention their real time updates whenever something extraordinary happens.
There is also a wifi network on trains, allowing me to spend the 70-75 minute journey doing something useful on line. When the rails and trains get modernised there will not be very much to hope for.
I am a happy commuter.
Just as in Tallinn (image), a snow storm left Helsinki covered with more snow than we have had during all of this exceptionally mild winter. There has not been a winter to talk about as the temperature has never stayed below freezing point long enough so that any snow would have stayed. And now that the spring is supposed to be around the corner we get the lot of it during 24 hours.
In early February, which normally would have been the peak of the winter, the ground was bare, the temperature went up to + 10 °C and some early flowers made a premature attempt to blossom. As everybody thought that this would be one of those rare winters that never came, spring season preparations were being made as can be seen in the picture above. This late winter is particularly bad for the business of bars and pubs, thanks to anti smoking laws both in Estonia and Finland. Who would want to have a pint and a fag at an outdoor table under such weather conditions?
While kids and cross country skiing enthusiasts certainly say better late than not at all, I hope this misplaced winter would go away rather soon than late. Be it cold or warm, some sort of stability and predictability in weather conditions would be appreciated.
I am in the middle of Gulf of Finland sailing for Tallinn where I am going to participate in a conference discussing the Estonian government’s program for fellow countrymen abroad. The current program is effective for the period 2004-2008 and the conference, organized by the Ministry of Education, will discuss the frameworks of the next program period. I am one of the three delegates representing the Association of Estonians in Finland.
I am planning to cover the conference on line in real time primarily in the association’s blog. There is also a Facebook event for the conference. I hope to get as much feedback from people both in Estonia and abroad in order to present suggestions received from readers to the conference.
While most of my coverage is naturally in Estonian, I am going to try to make a few summarizing posts in English as well. So if you want to learn about the issues discussed, keep an eye on this space and the Facebook event. The conference will open tomorrow morning and close on Tuesday afternoon.
By the way, I already received some good suggestions in comments added to my Estonian blog. Those will be discussed as soon as I meet my fellow delegates and we are going to present the ideas either in the floor or in committees.
I am about to take off to Tallinn for the day. It is just a regular shopping tour to fill in my supplies. I’ll be back ast home in the evening.
A delegation of the Russian State Duma is visiting Tallinn and is hosted by the Estonian Parliament. The delegation met today among others with representatives of the Parliament’s Foreign and Defense Committees. While the title of this blog has “shameless remarks” in it, I would never publish anything as arrogant as the statement of Mr. Nikolai Kovaljov, the leader of the Russian delegation.
Mr. Kovaljov called for nothing less than the resignation of the Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip! It is one thing that I find some of Mr. Ansip’s policies questionable. While he and his cabinet have generally managed the current crisis well, there may be one or two details to deserve criticism.
That said, Mr Kovaljov seems to have forgotten something very elementary, sitting on his high horses as he is. Estonia is an independent country, not a Russian province. The Estonian government is subject to confidence of the Estonian Parliament, not the Russian Duma! Members of Parliament demanding the government or the Prime Minister of another country to resign should ask themselves what they are doing in politics in the first place.
As for the Bronze Soldier, it has been erected in the military cemetery of Tallinn today and is accessible by the general public and indeed the delegation lead by Mr Kovaljov. The official opening ceremony of the monument is going to take place on May 8th and representatives of the allied countries fighting against the nazis (i.e. Russia, Great Britain, USA and France) have been invited. Part of the remains of Soviet soldiers buried in the former down town location of the monument have been recovered. They will be re-buried with due ceremonies once the bodies have been identified in accordance to international treaties.
I have wanted to write a background article about the recent riots in Tallinn but due to a busy weekend I have not had a chance to do it. I was planning to write the article tonight or tomorrow. I now detect that my friend Jaanus has written a well balanced and thorough article on the subject. As I agree on every word he wrote, I feel that there is no reason to duplicate his writing. I sincerely recommend everybody to read what Jaanus wrote, that is if you really want to learn the Estonian view of the historical truth.
I might add that the post stalinistic Russian government is acting utterly hypocritically in this particular issue. Similar monuments have been removed in several Russian cities with less respect than is being shown by the Estonian government. So the real issue is not the monument but their wish to attack Estonia which Russia still regards as its own back yard. Hence, the Russian media does not publish the truth about the events and their background. Unfortunately, many Russians living in Estonia mainly receive news and information through the Russian media.
The Russian police have generally no problem stopping peaceful oppositional demonstrations against their own government in Moscow and elsewhere in Russia. I do not therefore believe that they would be unable to stop the vandalizing of the Estonian embassy in Moscow which has been taking place these last days. According to latest news, about 600 persons are surrounding the embassy building and throwing stones at it. Nobody is able to enter or exit the building.
This comment added to my earlier post demonstrates how people may be thinking who have not access to proper and truthful information. Just as if looting and vandalizing would be a normal thing to do when you disagree with something. May I also point out that the Bronze Soldier is intact and is likely to be erected in the military cemetery in Tallinn as early as today?
The EU should support Estonia and urge Russia to immediately stop provoking any violent actions. Recognizing historical facts could be a first step but I guess the Russian government is less than interested in plain truth.
According to Estonian Radio, the Bronze Soldier monument which has been used as an excuse for the recent riots in Tallinn is going to be re-erected in the military cemetery in Tallinn possibly as early as today. The archeologic burials after the remains of Soviet soldiers assumed to be buried at Tõnismägi in down town Tallinn were started during the weekend. If remains are found and they are going to be recognized as bodies of Soviet soldiers, they are later going to be re-buried at the proper burial place with due ceremonies.
I shall try to return to the background of the events later today or tomorrow.
I was in Turku all day on Saturday, chairing the annual conference of the Association of Estonians in Finland. While most of the debate was about organizational and social matters, the hot topic of the unrest in Tallinn in connection with removal of the Soviet monument Bronze Soldier was briefly discussed. It was the unanimous opinion of the conference that Russia is deliberately provoking national hatred against Estonia.
Meanwhile in Tallinn, the night has been calm. The police are actively interfering if large crowds try to gather. The number of persons detained during the riots of the last couple of days is 800, according to the police.
Sales of alcoholic beverages between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. have temporarily been banned allover Estonia. Pubs and bars are allowed to serve customers. The restriction is scheduled to be lifted on 3rd may at 8 a.m.
Edit: The web site of the Estonian government is currently not accessible from abroad as it was on several occasions attacked yesterday. Crackers placed Russian language messages against the government on the site.
Six members of police force and about 50 hooligans are reported to be injured during the second night of riots in central Tallinn. 300 persons are in custody. The Russian mob caused serious property damage by demolishing anything they saw and looting shops. Minor riots also took place in the north eastern Estonian towns of Jõhvi and Kohtla Järve where the majority of citizens are Russians.
According to the police, the situation in Tallinn is calm since 2 a.m. Things went out of control shortly after 10 p.m. yesterday evening. According to film director Ilmar Raag who observed the events together with Estonian TV’s camera team, the number of riot police is too small to promptly establish control.
Hundreds of Russian youngsters (although less than last night) have gathered to locations in central Tallinn. Many of them are reportedly drunken and obviously seek a conflict with the police. No major riots have taken place so far.
About 200 persons actively behaving disorderly have so far been detained last night and today. 30 of them have appeared in court and 7 have been arrested by court order. The police is attempting to prevent large crowds to gather at one single spot.
The present situation can as best be described as calm before another storm. I am going to post about the developments briefly tomorrow morning. I am going to travel to Turku tomorrow and return on line in the evening. I’ll post all essential developments and hope to be able to write a background article either during the weekend or May 1st holiday.
Edit at 23.07 local time (2007 GMT): Unfortunately I was proven right. Estonian radio news reports that the mindless mob is moving about in central Tallinn and demolishing whatever comes in their way. Shop windows are being broken and traffic signs and lights vandalized. Police estimates there are about 500 persons in the mob.
Estonian officials last night removed the Soviet monument Bronx Soldier from central Tallinn and transported it
into a military cemetery into an unspecified location to be later placed in a military cemetery. The monument is under police protection. Archeologists started were supposed to start burials after remains of Soviet soldiers that are assumed to be buried where the monument was raised in 1947.
Hundreds of drunken Russian youths rioted in central Tallinn last night. According to eye witness report by Christian in Tallinn, shop windows were broken within a large area and loads of alcoholic beverages stolen by the mob.
The city government has temporarily banned sales of alcoholic beverages after 2 p.m. The National Library is temporarily closed due to damages caused by the Russian mob. Additional police forces from elsewhere in Estonia have been called to support maintaining public order in Tallinn.
President Thomas Hendrik Ilves is to appear in Estonian TV in approximately 15 minutes.
Edit: President Ilves called everybody regardless of nationality to remain rational and calm. He said he was convinced that those who performed violent acts last night will be caught and prosecuted. He urged the people to refrain from provocative acts and statements.
The situation in Tallinn is calm since early morning. However, further demonstrations are expected during the weekend.