What the Papers Say: Tänak and Helme's travels and Estonian societal change

Estonian newspapers (photo is illustrative).
Estonian newspapers (photo is illustrative). Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

Estonian society, the way it views itself, how it has changed in recent years and the role of men were among the topics looked at by news portals and newspapers on Wednesday, Oct. 30, as were the comings and goings of finance minister Martin Helme, where next for Ott Tänak and, as ever, the continued scourge of phone scammers. All links in Estonian unless otherwise noted.

Estonia getting more touchy-feely

According to daily Eesti Päevaleht, the proportion of people in Estonia who are more interested in the environment and their relationships is growing over time, compared with the proportion who are more materialist, which is shrinking.

A study in conjunction with the University of Tartu found the shift had taken place over time, and took into account the technological bent in the country as well as differences between different generations.

The article did however say that attitudes in respect of sexual minorities did not seem to have made such progress over the same period, and that there had still arisen deep divisions in society, as evidenced by the current political situation.

The article also touched as a whole upon the perennial image of Estonians as being maudlin and unable to have fun; the country is down there with Britain and others, the piece said, compared with neighboring Finland, where society has become more and more 'hedonistic' over the past 15 years.

Nonetheless, the piece said, the more caring-sharing emphasis compared with the money grabbing 1990s was worth noting.

Tänak Hyundai deal may have been done long ago

The likelihood of freshly-crowned WRC champ Ott Tänak moving to Hyundai seems to grow by the day, as demonstrated by a piece in daily Õhtuleht.

U.K. motorsports weekly Autosport had already said that the deal was practically a fait accompli – otherwise they would not have published the claims – and Hyundai's top current driver, Belgian Thierry Neuville, has been making (positive) noises along the lines of being the Estonian's teammate for 2020.

Tänak won the 2019 drivers' title in style at the Catalunynan rally on Sunday, with one race left to go in the season, in the Toyota Yaris, having led since the second race, but the Hyundai spot may have been hammered out several races ago, and in time for rally Finland, the Õhtuleht piece said.

Finance minister drops by in London for pow wow organized by conservative, or far-right, depending on who you're speaking to, group

Daily Postimees' English portal (link in English) noted Tuesday that finance minister Martin Helme (EKRE) had attended a conference which brought together many leading lights in the conservative/national conservative/far-right/nationalist spectrum, in London, at the weekend.

Organized by a conservative or right-leaning body called the Traditional Britain Group, the conference presented Helme as a living, breathing example of how, in its view, conservatism should look.

Helme stopped off at the conference, where he rubbed shoulders with Polish, Swedish, British and other politicians, many of whom had been forced to leave more mainstream parties due to their views, only to form their own political parties in some cases, en route back to Estonia from the U.S.

Helme said he was aware who many of the speakers were at the event, which in the past has hosted Richard Spencer, noted for what many call a neo-nazi stance, again depending on perspective.*

Common ground between attendees at the Traditional Britain event and other EKRE politicians, including MP Ruuben Kaalep and MEP Jaak Madison, is ample as well, according to the piece.

Phone scams well and truly a thing

News portal Geenius returned to its frequently covered topic of phone scams, saying that a vertiable avalanche of these has been experienced in Estonia recently.

The typical call goes like this: victim receives a call from a number, often with a foreign dialling code including the U.K. or many other countries, but when answering is met with a barrage of Russian.

Since many Estonians speak Russian, victims sometimes switch to this language and if they do not, the scammer may give up, though not before an automatic redial can often send many, many subsequent calls from a plethora of different numbers.

Following up on the scammers demands usually leads to the downloading of software which can then be used to access the victim's computer remotely, often then followed by an accessing of PIN numbers and other sensitive data, and an emptying of the bank account.

The Geenius piece has both a whole host of advice and a 'blacklist' of known dodgy numbers – a bit of a bottomless pit of course – though the scammers have fairly esconced themselves in a network of shell companies, offshore companies, smaller telecoms operators including one in Estonia which can do nothing about the fact that scammers use tis services; the trail leads ultimately to some pretty unsavory figures, including major Russian banking fraudsters.

What men want

Finally, online magazine Estonian World features a link (in English) to one of its Estonishing Evenings events, this time an all-male panel discussing the realities of living in Estonia as a man, be it Estonian or ex-pat.

These events are usually hosted on Mondays, at the Erinevate Tubade Klubi ("Club of Many Rooms") in the Telliskivi Loomelinnak (Tellisikivi Creative City) and feature a fairly open-ended format including audience questions and answers; former ERR Managing Editor Dario Cavegn recently featured at a previous event.

Monday's edition brought together two Estonian experts and two ex-pats, though the bar was set a lot higher than the stereotypical beer-bellied, comb-over losers that many may have in mind when they think of foreign males in the country, featuring as it did two of the sexiest examples from among the ranks of same: Comedy Estonia founder Louis Zezeran, and writer and author of the 'My Estonia' triology of travel books Justin Petrone.

Zezeran and Petrone were joined by Jorgen Matsi, a psychologist-in-residence at startup success story Pipedrive in Tallinn, and Margus Vaher, a writer and comic, whose own one-man show, "Mida mehed tahavad" ("what men want") has also met with plenty of acclaim.

Moderated by Reelika Virunurm, the panel covered topics like similarities and differences with their home countries (in the case of the two ex-pats), gender roles and the continuance of traditional gender behaviors, sex and dating and more, and is viewable here.

*Please note an earlier version of this piece stated that Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch had attended TBG conferences. In fact it was Richard Spencer referred to in the original Postimees piece. ERR News apologizes for any confusion or distress caused.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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