The week started off with the news that Russian planes had been particularly active over the past weekend and NATO fighter jets had to scramble a multiples times to escort them over the Baltic Sea.
Russian jets remained a hot topic throughout the week. Estonian Defense Forces announced on Wednesday that a Russian IL-20 reconnaissance plane had violated Estonia's airspace the day before. The intrusion happened near Osmussaare islet, northwest Estonia, and lasted for less than a minute.
The concerns over the "invisible" Russian military planes bustling in on civil aviation were realized on Friday, when Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter reported that a Scandinavian Airlines' passenger plane was on collision course with a foreign military aircraft that had its transponder, which is used to identify the position of the aircraft, turned off.
This may be of some concern to people who plan to fly to Estonia to get their e-residency cards. Although, as it turns out, one may be eligible for a special delivery from none other then the Prime Minister himself. Taavi Rõivas, who was visiting the US with a group of business leaders last week, handed out e-residency cards to venture capitalists Steve Jurvetson and Tim Draper, the first two non-European e-residents.
Rõivas also met with US Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the United States House of Representatives John Boehner, and gave a speech at the Atlantic Council think tank.
On Monday, the 24 teams who qualified to the FIBA European Basketball Championships, were drawn to groups. Lithuania ended up in the same group as the already seeded Latvia and Estonia. The group D games will be played in Riga, Latvia; groups A, B and C will play simultaneously at France, Croatia and Germany. Estonia will play its opener against the Czech Republic on September 5. The Eurobasket tickets went on sale on Friday afternoon and by the end of Sunday, three quarters of the 17,500 Estonian fan-zone seats had been picked up.
On Wednesday, the Parliament gave its final approval to 2015 state budget, with the total expenditure of 8.54 billion euros. The budget quickly received both praise and criticism. The supporters highlighted the rise of public sector wages, pensions and child support benefits, while the opposition found fault with income tax reduction and state funding for parliamentary parties, as well as the continued existence of the so-called "roof-fund", money that MPs can personally allocate to projects of their choosing. Free Party leader Andres Herkel likened the MPs to Russian boyars or the Santa Claus, "who walks around with a bag full of gifts."
Other than that, the focus on Wednesday was on military and militarization. The Global Militarization Index, where Estonia ranked a high 21st, was published on the same day that Estonia completed its largest ever military procurement - 44 CV-90 infantry combat vehicles worth 138 million euros, currently used by Netherlands. The vehicles will be delivered between 2016-2018, along with toolkits for maintenance, spare parts and ammunition.
On Thursday, it was made public that the Estonian-Georgian film "Tangerines" is among the nominees for this years Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film. The winners will be announced on January 11. The nominees for the Oscars, for which "Tangerines" is also in the running, will be revealed a few days later.
On Friday, Estonia was preparing for a storm that swept across the country on Saturday. Emergency services and electricity companies were on high alert. Although the strength of the storm was lower than first feared, the storm cut power lines to around 60,000 households.
Editor: M. Oll S. Tambur