What the papers say: Will US missile strike greenlight fuel price hikes?

Estonian daily newspapers (picture is illustrative).
Estonian daily newspapers (picture is illustrative). Source: ERR

The aftermath of the American missile strike in Iraq, which took out a high ranking Iranian general, differences of opinion between liberals and conservatives which can nonetheless still reach the same end point, and just who has right of way at a traffic lights filter lane were among the topics in Estonia's news portals and daily newspapers on Friday, January 3. All links in Estonian unless otherwise noted.

Fuel company: Impact on prices of U.S. Iraq strike depends on how soon tension cools

Whether price aftershocks from the U.S. missile strike in Iraq, which killed General Qasem Soleimani of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and commander of its Quds Force, will reach the Estonian fuel market will depend on how long the crisis goes on for, according to board member at Estonian energy company Alexela, Alan Vahti, talking to daily Postimees.

Vahti said that if tensions do not cool down, price increase could be seen as early as next week, but at the same time he said that they will likely fall over the weekend, only to pick up again on Monday, though even then no likely to exceed this week's peak, €1.429 per liter, which happened on Thursday, prior to the strike which killed Soleimani.

Vahti added that sellers till have not met biofuel additive requirements, where additives should make up 10 percent of total fuel output (not 10 per cent of each liter) or no less than 6.4 percent.

This was tempered by the fact that the government is set to make amends to the Liquid Fuel Act which would make the application of the law more flexible, Vahti said.

Liberals and conservatives: Sometimes different means to reach the same end

Daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL), noting how Estonia seems to be torn asunder by the "liberal versus conservative" divide, with Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) supporters taking a very different view on, say, immigration or LGBT+ issues than those who might vote for the Social Democratic Party (SDE), has been running a series along those lines since autumn.

However, this time, their "head liberal" Krister Paris, and "head conservative" Peep Pahv, the "head liberal", this time reached agreement on two issues – though using very diffent arguments to come to the same conclusion.

The first question was whether the early release of convicted traitor Herman Simm, released on probation in December having served a little under 11 years of a 12-and-a-half-year sentence, was correct or not, with both men arguing that it was; Krister, the conservative, said that since the offense was a crime like any other, Simm's early release on the grounds of good behavior should apply as in all other cases, adding that he was pleased that justice minister Urmas Reinsalu had not been able to interfere with the judiciary's work (an independent judiciary and prosecutor's office has been a shibboleth for EKRE and its supporters-ed.).

Meanwhile, Peep the liberal agreed that the crime was serious and extraordinary, but with Simm having served most of his sentence, and given his advanced age and reported ill health, keeping him inside at taxpayer's expense and with a remote likelihood of reoffending, plus the fact that he was likely still to be held in disdain by much of the public, was also reason to release him early.

The second question, about limiting pubs and clubs' opening times, saw Krister saying that people's behavior when drinking was their own responsibility, not a pub landlord's, while Peep noted that if it's the quiet life you're after, move to the country and don't live in the tourist hotspot that is Tallinn's Old Town.

A green arrow at a traffic lights filter lane does not a priority make

According to news portal Geenius, drivers who think they have right of way when the green arrow is showing on filter lanes at traffic lights (see picture) should think again.

Citing information from the Traffic Safety Center (Liiklusjärelevalvekeskus), the piece notes that what is key is what the main lights are showing – if these are red, you do not have right of way on a green arrow and must yield to traffic coming from any other direction.

Only when the main traffic lights are green do drivers in filter lanes have priority.

Drivers only have right of way on filter lane green arrow traffic lights when the main light is green too. Source: Liiklusjärelevalvekeskus

Russia's new scorched earth policy

Not a particularly recent piece (link in English) but of use nonetheless, Defence League (Kaitseliit) volunteer-staffed anti-misinformation site propastop noted in December how scorched earth tactics are now being used in online information war.

Readers may recall that classic scorched earth policies on the battlefield – laying waste to areas being abandoned before they fall into the hands of an enemy – through fire or other means, were used, for instance, during in Moscow in 1812, when over two-thirds of that city's buildings were burned to the ground by the Russians themselves, ahead of a possible occupation by Napoleon's armies.

While it is not only Russia by any stretch which has used the tactic throughout history – Union Army Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's march to the sea, through Georgia, during the 1861-1865 American Civil War, is another well-known example – nowadays the Kremlin propaganda machine is using a cyber version which involves painting a wholly negative picture of an imagined opponent in online media outlets, with the intention of depicting the "enemy" in the worst possible light and piling on as many absurd statements as possible.

This has been used perhaps more than anywhere else in the Kremlin's portrayal of the "west" - as a morally despicable place on a downward spiral which epitomizes everything that stands against basic, traditional Russian values, with plenty of conspiracy theories, narratives and more used in back up.

Speed skater opens up about love life

Finally, sports fans may be delighted, or devastated, depending on their perspective, to learn that speed skater Saskia Alusalu is an item, with entrepreneur Mark Luts.

The normally circumspect, at least about her private life, Alusalu is happy with Mark, according to daily Õhtuleht, and it seems the pairing is no passing fancy either – she says she first noticed the 44-year-old over a decade ago, perhaps because he is the scion of a well-known sporting family – father Raimond Luts is a noted athletics trainer who was world championship silver medal-winning javelin thrower Magnus Kirt's first coach.

Alusalu came fourth in the women's mass speed skating final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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