Week in Pictures: May 11-17
Mobilization exercise Siil/Steadfast Javelin drew to a close last week with a massive lineup of troops and machinery at Tapa old airfield. A total of 13,000 men and women, from Estonia and abroad, took part of what was the country's largest military drill yet.
At the same time, computer know-how was exchanged during numerous conferences, workshops and other special events, all part of Estonian ICT Week. The eventful week brought together hundreds of ICT specialists, students and entrepreneurs from around the globe.
In other tech related news, Estonia finally launched its e-Residency application portal at e-resident.gov.ee, enabling anyone in the world to participate in the public beta of the world's first government-backed transnational digital identity program. The e-residency initiative was launched on December 1, but until April, applicants had to travel to Estonia to collect their cards.
Another international project, Arvo Pärt and Robert Wilson's musical theatre production "Adam's Passion", premiered in Tallinn on Tuesday. The production, which received mostly praise from the critics, will be made available to audiences worldwide as a concert recording, along with a documentary about the two creators, later this year.
The pressure on the less than two months old government shows no sign of relenting. Quite the opposite, in fact, with Jevgeni Ossinovski, who is challenging current Social Democrats leader Sven Mikser for the party's top position, announcing that he aims for a new coalition agreement, one that does not compromise the party's inherent values. Ossinovski had previously said that he does not see the coalition lasting four years, but expects it to continue as long as it is capable of cooperation.
The latest popularity polls show that the controversial coalition agreement has not only caused a rift among the Social Democrats, but the society as a whole. In an unprecedented move, the support to opposition parties has passed that of the coalition. Exact numbers, of course, differ, but the general view is the same: were the elections to take place tomorrow, the Reform party would only take 18-19 percent of the vote - compared to the 27.7 percent it took to win March elections. The Center Party has grown its following from 24.8 to 26-31 percent, depending again on the poll. IRL has been by far the biggest loser, with a support rate of only 8 percent, and new opposition force Free Party the biggest winner, now commanding an enviable 18 percent of the vote, making it the third most popular party in Estonia as it stands. You can compare the exact results of the two polls, commissioned by Postimees and ERR respectively, here. For more on coalition woes, read our summary of week 20.
Saturday was again a dark day on Estonia's roads, with a total of 27 people injured, 14 of them in an alleged drunk-driver incident in Tallinn city center. Thirteen victims were taken to various hospitals from the scene, among them five pedestrians, including two children, who were mowed down by one of the cars in the accident. Traffic turmoil on Estonian roads continued on Sunday, with police catching 37 motorists who were over the permitted 0.2 percent limit of blood alcohol content, as well as three steering under the influence of drugs.
The trend is worrying to say the least, especially in the light of latest OECD report, according to which, Estonia, with 12.3 liters of pure alcohol consumed per adult in 2012, has the biggest drinking problem of all the organization's 34 members states. There is even more cause for concern as, according to OECD's statistics, 21.4 of all deaths in Estonia have something to do with alcohol. And as Saturday's incident shows, it is not only the perpetrators who suffer as a result.
To end in a more positive note, many people chose a cultured night at the museums instead of a drink this weekend. It was the seventh annual Night of Museums on Saturday, with this year's events finding inspiration in the theme "Music in the Night." Estonian Art Museum reported that their exhibitions alone, in five different locations, were visited by nearly 11,000 people. The total number of visits to the 165 participating museums is yet to be released, but considering that Estonians are the most museum-friendly of all Europeans, it might easily top last year's 75,000.