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'Penguins' Draw Icy, Venomous Comments

A natural outlet for populist frustration, acerbic wit and sour grapes from non-invitees, this year's presidential receiving line - the "penguins' parade" - rallied the poison pens. 

The traditional Independence Day event was an occasion for the Estonian online media, which some claim is becoming more yellow as it moves to smaller screens and shorter attention spans, to really embrace the tabloid zeitgeist and ask the hard-hitting questions - such as discussing the age limit for displaying cleavage and why there were so many red dresses this year.   

"Who was that man who forgot to shake First Lady Evelin Ilves's hand?" asked a Postimees entertainment section headline over picture of a young man with facial hair and a highly political T-shirt which he wore to the reception. The answer: Meelis Kaldalu, a student leader.

"Did Yana Toom look like a packaged frankfurter?" asked another headline, in what may possibly have qualified as a loaded question.

The First Couple was not immune: an article in the same daily's elu24 entertainment site claimed President Toomas Hendrik Ilves was chewing gum, while First Lady Evelin Ilves received backhanded compliments on her Xenia Joost designed dress. Due no doubt to great minds thinking alike, a recent Dior dress also had the same idea of decorating the inside of the fabric so as to simulate a tapestry.

Siim Kallas appeared twice in the receiving line - once in person and a second time on student leader Kaldalu's T-shirt, where the face of the father of the Reform Party appeared stylized as a joker in a playing card.

Andrus Kivirähk, one of the top writers and columnists in the country, tapped into popular scorn for dirty politicians (he did not name names), devoting his column in Eesti Päevaleht to mocking the whole idea of the presidential reception - with his usual wit but also with an undertone of something resembling anger.

"Nothing insults a person who counts his pennies more than a nouveau riche lighting his cigar with paper money," he wrote. "But that is precisely the principle that the president's reception violates each year, its trademark has become that of mannequins showing off dresses and suits fresh from the tailor's who stride the red carpet to the strains of harp music, so beatific you would think they were heading to paradise, not toward the hors d'oeuvres."

The ERR video of the reception - without the ironic and deprecating commentary - can be watched above.

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