Feature

Feature: Lohusuu School defines itself not by language, but by small size

17.11.19 ... While the majority of public schools in Estonia provide Estonian-language education, Russian remains the primary language of instruction at a substantial number of schools, particularly in cities and regions with significant Russian-speaking populations. As educators, experts and lawmakers continue to debate whether and how to transition to a fully Estonian-language model, one tiny school in a rural borough on the northern coast of Lake Peipus continues to operate bilingually — as it has for more than a century already.

Interview: Finnish Prosecutor General Raija Toiviainen in Tallinn

09.11.19 ... Who Estonia's next prosecutor general will be is still up in the air at the time of writing, as current incumbent Lavly Perling comes to the end of her first five-year term. In Finland, the appointment has no such shelf-life.

Feature: Foreigners face challenges buying real estate in Estonia

04.11.19 ... As 2020 approaches, there are few major bureaucratic processes left in Estonia that even now cannot be done online. Getting married is one — closing on a home is another. Despite this, thousands of non-locals are buying real estate in Estonia, among them Finns, Russians, and even diaspora Estonians. ERR News spoke with representatives from banks, real estate agencies, the Ministry of the Interior and a few buyers themselves about what the process of finding home, sweet home in Estonia looks like.

Operation Tractable introduces British Army personnel to the sauna

03.11.19 ... Operation Tractable, the large-scale, Europe-wide NATO exercise running from late October to early November, has brought hundreds of NATO personnel to Estonia, including paras from the 16th Air Assault Brigade, who took part in the largest ever military parachute drop in Estonia on Friday.

Feature: Remembering Estonian political prisoner Kalju Mätik

28.10.19 ... Former political prisoner Kalju Mätik passed away this month and is to be laid to rest in Tartu on Monday. Journalist and consultant Jüri Estam looks at the siginficance of Mätik's life and actions, and hopes that future generations will honor those who gave up practically everything to keep the spark of Estonian independence alive during the decades of Soviet occupation.

Feature: Feminist forum to shine a light on sustainable social movements

27.10.19 ... Next weekend, on Nov. 2, web magazine Feministeerium is to host its first Feminist Forum, TALFF. The event will offer a space for people to gather, listen to debates, and meet like-minded people. ERR News caught up with two of the web magazine's founders Aet Kuusik and Nele Laos, to discuss Feministeerium, feminism in Estonia, and equality.

A closer look: Supreme Court decision in teenager cancer treatment case

06.10.19 ... Late last month, the Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court of Estonia established Estonian precedent with its rejection of an appeal in which the plaintiffs, a 15-year-old girl diagnosed with cancer and her mother, sought for courts to be able, upon the request of a patient or their next of kin, to compel healthcare providers to opt for certain, specific methods of treatment. ERR News took a closer look at the details and context of the ruling.

Rene Kokk: We need to talk about both the nuclear plant and pulp mill

25.09.19 ... Minister of the Environment Rene Kokk (EKRE) believes climate warming is partially anthropogenic but does not think highly of electric cars, is skeptical of Rail Baltic, vows to reduce the size of clearcut areas, is against a green tax on airline tickets but in favor of bio-additives in motor fuel, wants nesting peace for birds in conservation areas and is not planning to replace the ministry's secretary general.

Interview: Jaak Juske on politics and the history of Pelgulinn

24.09.19 ... Jaak Juske occupies an unusual place in Estonia in being both an active, sitting MP for the Social Democratic Party (SDE), and an avid local historian, with published books and a popular social media page, mostly focussing on the Pelgulinn district of Tallinn, though other areas and other aspects of history are also very much in the picture for him. He kindly agreed to taking time out for a written interview with ERR News, which follows.

Interview: Toidupank ('Food Bank') founder on initiative's first decade

22.09.19 ... Poverty in Estonia seems to be a topic that never goes away. In spite of the huge material leaps forward made since independence and particularly since EU accession, there are those who have been left behind, under a social security system which, it would be fair to say, is underfunded.

Gallery: Kai Art Center opens in former submarine factory

21.09.19 ... Kai Art Center opened in a former submarine factory in Tallinn's Noblessneri sadam (Port Noblessner) on Friday. The new center will be the first permanent home for Estonian contemporary art.

Estonian Language House to offer language training, guidance, home in Narva

15.09.19 ... Nine months after officially relocating from the capital to Estonia's northeasternmost city, the Integration Foundation and its second subsidiary Estonian Language House will be opening its doors at its new, permanent location in Narva. The custom-planned environment and static address are hoped to provide much longed-for stability for its employees, clients, language students and other city residents alike.

What happens to UK citizens in Estonia post-Brexit? Essential FAQs answered

20.12.18 ... Given the level of concern amongst UK citizens living, working and studying in Estonia on the possible effects of Brexit, we thought it useful to put together some FAQs on what will and won't change, from the perspective of the relevant government ministries and other authorities. Please note this is an updated piece which first appeared on 20 Dec. 2018.

Looking back: ESTO 2019 program brings together youth from 25 countries

06.08.19 ... From June 27 through July 3, Estonians from across the world came together to celebrate their Estonian culture and identity at the 12th ESTO festival. ESTO 2019, dedicated to the theme "Our Future," took place immediately prior to the XXVII Song and XX Dance Festival, beginning in Helsinki and moving through Tartu before concluding in Tallinn. Toronto Estonian Juku Gold takes a look back at the festival through the eyes of a youth delegate.

Gallery: NATO Battlegroup members lend hand relocating Narva cat shelter

09.06.19 ... Whether moving across town or across the country, moving day is dreaded by many. Moving 200 shelter cats and a handful of dogs across Narva in 30-degree heat? Surely a feat like that would take an army. On Thursday, the many volunteers of the nonprofit Narva Kassituba MTÜ (Narva Cat Room) got an extra hand from just that — six members of the British Army currently serving in NATO Battlegroup Estonia.

Toomas Hendrik Ilves: The blue, black and white flag, then and now

04.06.19 ... Today, on June 4, the Estonian flag turns 135 years old. This is a speech that I gave 15 years ago, at a conference held at the EÜS House in Tartu dedicated to the 120th anniversary of the Estonian flag, and unfortunately it is more relevant now than it was then, writes former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves.

Couple to flee Russia still seeking to build life, contribute in Estonia

02.06.19 ... Exactly half a century after the Stonewall Uprising in New York, many communities worldwide are celebrating LGBT Pride in June, whether with a day, a weekend, a week or a month of events. Baltic Pride, which is hosted in the capitals of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on a rotating basis, is taking place in Vilnius this year. A writer and an artist in one Northeastern Estonian town, however, are keeping busy as always just trying to eke out a living — and to live in peace together.

Interview: Lord Mayor of London on links with Tallinn, both old and new

28.05.19 ... The Lord Mayor of London, Peter Estlin, was in Tallinn at the beginning of the week, and very kindly met us, providing a snapshot of what he was doing here, his role, and how he sees future relations between both the City of London and Tallinn, and more broadly, the United Kingdom and Estonia.

Feature: Europe's moment for a new solution

17.05.19 ... The European Union is not perfect, but it is the most successful experiment in managing relations between nation states, writes former prime minister and foreign minister of Finland, Alexander Stubb.

Feature: Beware the underworld merchant-adventurer

16.05.19 ... While the Russian gangs of the 1990s concerned themselves with a simpler brand of crime, since the 2000s they have adopted a new approach: one of suppliers, investors—and, on occasion, helpers of the Russian mobilization state. Analyst and expert on the Russian underworld, Mark Galeotti, describes how the thugs of post-Soviet Eastern Europe returned as outright merchant-adventurers in the new millennium.

Gallery: ERR settling into its new Narva studio

12.05.19 ... Next weekend will mark two months already since Estonian Public Broadcasting's Narva studio relocated from its longtime location on the arterial Puškini Street to a new space on the smaller Linda Street, in what can be described at Narva's own up-and-coming Telliskivi Creative City (Tallinn) or Widget Factory (Tartu). Earlier this week, ERR's Russian-language radio news editor Jüri Nikolajev took some time to show his English-language colleagues around.

Day in the Life: Natalya the British Army corporal

11.05.19 ... When you hear fighter jets fly overhead or see tanks roll through your small village as you are picking up your child from kindergarten, you might remember that a military exercise is going on in the area today, but your young child or elderly neighbor might be startled or confused. This is where I come in, and not just to explain about us, but also ask you about local life too. My name is Natalya, and I am a corporal in the British Army on a six-month deployment to Estonia.

Estonian Pastor-cum-Rabbi enjoys huge following in Ghana

24.04.19 ... ETV current affairs show Pealtnägija has featured a 66-year-old Estonian self-styled prophet and pastor, who has allegedly worked miracles both in the West African nation of Ghana, and at home in Estonia, concocting his own messianic Judaism-style faith along the way.

The XIV Riigikogu: Why those seated were not always those elected

15.04.19 ... On 3 March, Estonian citizens elected 101 new members to the XIV Riigikogu in the 2019 general election, 13 of whom received a personal mandate. Just over a month later, on 4 April, only 92 of those elected were present to give their oath of office as MPs on the day of the first sitting. Where were the rest? And who had taken their seats?

Day in the Life: Tatjana the cucumber grower

07.04.19 ... Springlike weather has finally arrived in Estonia, but for me, it is 23.5C every day. My charges at work grow three times my height in as many months, and provide fresh vegetables — which are technically actually fruits — for families across Estonia all year long. My name is Tatjana Maftulyak, and I am a cucumber grower at Grüne Fee Eesti in Lohkva.

How does the formation of a coalition government in Estonia work?

05.04.19 ... The recent coalition talks between the Centre Party, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa, which lasted around three weeks, have led many to believe that this is a fait accompli, and the lineup will take office. In fact, this is not the case. Properly speaking, the official coalition talks are only starting from today.

Feature: What direct democracy could look like in Estonia

01.04.19 ... While EKRE chairman Mart Helme thinks that throwing out the Registered Partnership Act will be easy once the right to a popular referendum is in place, things aren't quite as easy as that. In fact, at this point, there has been no talk at all about the formidable legal project that direct democracy really is. Here is an idea what it could look like in practice in Estonia.

The Long Road to Laulu- ja Tantsupidu, Part 2: Europe and beyond

01.04.19 ... For many diaspora Estonians in North America, making it to the Laulu- ja Tantsupidu in Tallinn is a nearly religious pilgrimage — a must at least once in their lifetimes, whether singing, dancing, or simply spectating. For significant numbers of more recent Estonian emigrants, however, the Estonian Song and Dance Festival is still eagerly anticipated, despite the homeland being a relatively short plane-, train- or ferry-ride away. Ahead of the double-jubilee event, nearly three dozen choirs and folk dance troupes from Europe but also Turkey and even Australia are hoping to earn coveted spots in the festivals.

Day in the Life: Lena the festival organiser

31.03.19 ... While I am currently studying at a vocational school, that is the least of who I am, or what I do. Officially, I don't have a job. But in reality, I am a singer, a songwriter, a musician, and a performer. And since 1993, I have been responsible for organising a singer-songwriter and poetry event known as "Narvski Pri4al." My name is Lena Sabinina and I am a festival organiser in Narva.

Gallery: Lennart Meri at 90

29.03.19 ... Lennart Meri, first president of Estonia following the restoration of independence, 1992-2001, would have turned 90 on Friday.

Interview: NATO commander on challenges of role in Estonia

17.03.19 ... Having already interviewed some of the personnel from the 1 YORKS battle group, the third such battle group to form, together with its NATO allies, the core of the alliance's Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP), it made sense to catch up with the commander of the eFP, Col Giles Harris, formerly of the Welsh Guards. I was very privileged to be able to do just that, at the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) HQ in Tallinn, providing a great opportunity to colour-in further the picture of what the British-led eFP does here, its aspirations and its day-to-day activities.

Day in the Life: Raivo the blacksmith

16.03.19 ... After decades of working for someone else, being your own boss, while it demands discipline, is very rewarding, especially when you can use it as a means of promoting your people, your language, your history and your culture. My name is Raivo Jänesmägi, and I am a Seto blacksmith.

Interview: British soldiers with NATO Battle Group reflect on job well done

12.03.19 ... Estonia has been a NATO member since 2004, but only in recent years has any of that become more visible to most people. With US troops first arriving in 2014, the impetus grew after the 2016 Warsaw Summit's decision to strengthen NATO's eastern presence in the Baltic States and Poland. Within a space of time which might make Brexit negotiators, on both sides, hang their heads in shame, the Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) and its principal base at Tapa became reality in 2017.

Day in the Life: Roland the young chef

24.02.19 ... My daily reality does not actually involve serving the President of Estonia and her thousand guests and dignitaries hors d'oeuvres, although this year marks the second time I've done just that on Independence Day. On a typical week, I'm actually kept busy juggling my studies at the Tallinn School of Service and my job working in my dad's kitchen at a hotel restaurant in Pärnu. My name is Roland Visnapuu, and I am a young chef.

The Long Road to Laulu- ja Tantsupidu, Part 1: North America

24.02.19 ... Over 6,000km and the Atlantic Ocean stand between North America and the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds, but until 1990, it was the Iron Curtain that rendered the Estonian Song and Dance Festival completely unreachable to diaspora singers and dancers. This year, more than a dozen diaspora Estonian choirs and folk dance troupes from the US and Canada alone are trying out for a chance to perform in the double-jubilee festival, and even those who don't speak the language know at least three words: Laulu- ja Tantsupidu.

Opinion: There is nothing patriotic about fake news

13.02.19 ... It turns out that it was all made up. The two Estonian men attacking a foreign woman in Tallinn, throwing rocks at her and her dog, shouting "Go home, foreigner", in English. Founder and CEO of Jobbatical Karoli Hindriks, once she heard the story from someone she refers to as a friend, took the chance to write a lengthy post reporting the case and addressing how "Estonia has become angry", an unfriendly place towards foreigners who come here to work, contribute to our economy, and pay taxes.

Day in the Life: Tarmo the administrative manager

16.02.19 ... There are some jobs where your job title just doesn't sum up what you actually do on a day-to-day basis. What would you call someone whose workday could easily include repairing medieval props on one floor of a nine-storey tower, typing away at a keyboard in a tiny, off-limits office on another, and setting up to DJ an evening event in the Glass Gallery off a third? My name is Tarmo Põldroo, and I am the administrative manager at the Time Centre Wittenstein in Paide.

Liisa Past: Online voting fits into lively Estonian digital ecosystem

13.02.19 ... While its implementation seems to remain a farfetched idea in other countries despite increased digitalisation in other areas, online voting, also known as e-voting or i-voting, dates back to 2005 already in Estonia, where it is right at home in a society where banking, prescriptions and other services have long since largely gone digital as well.

Representatives of seven Estonian parties take part in Toronto town hall

13.02.19 ... On Sunday, 10 February, representatives of seven Estonian political parties participated in a town hall discussion at the Toronto Estonian House in the run-up to the 3 March Riigikogu elections. The discussion focussed on how the Estonian government might better engage with Estonians and their communities across the globe, and how to maintain and strengthen their connections to Estonia and their Estonian identity.

More than Russian or Estonian: Narva through the eyes of its own people

04.02.19 ... From government meetings and foreign media to Facebook groups filled with diaspora Estonians, Narva and its famously majority Russian-speaking population are popular hot topics that are typically magnets for strong feelings. Often, however, certain centrally important voices are conspicuously absent from these discussions: those of Narva residents themselves. ERR News' Aili Vahtla took two days last week to travel to Narva and speak to some of its people directly — about themselves, their lives, and their city.

Day in the Life: Tanel the history teacher

03.02.19 ... While I spend my summer holidays running a 17th Century pharmacy at a castle located right on the northeastern border of both NATO and the EU, during the rest of the year I'm more likely to be found teaching about that same century to children of a linguistic minority in Estonia's largest majority Russian-speaking city. My name is Tanel Mazur, and I am a history teacher at Narva Estonian Upper Secondary School (NEG).

Day in the Life: The Muradyan family, the cafe owners

26.01.19 ... The days are often long, and things can get very busy, especially during the lunch rush, but nothing is more satisfying than plates all but licked clean coming back to the kitchen, and our wonderful and supportive customers. And, of course, working together as a team. We are the Muradyan family, and we are the owners and sole employees of Cafe Smile in Tartu.

The strange case of Andres Anvelt

25.01.19 ... Former interior minister Andres Anvelt's links to businessman Anton Ger as highlighted again in the media, a man who around a decade ago faced charges of large-scale money laundering, may not have resulted in any wrong-doing. However, the timing of his leaving the role, not to mention the cause, has resulted in plenty of speculation, not least in a piece in weekly Eesti Ekspress dated 23 January.

ERR election broadcasting regulations overview

23.01.19 ... Public broadcaster ERR is on its general elections regime between now and polling day on 3 March, and its coverage will be in line with these regulations, explains ERR ombudsman Tarmu Tammerk.

Day in the Life: Heiki the senior border guard officer

19.01.19 ... The Border Guard was re-established in Estonia even before the country's independence was formally restored, and I was there in uniform from day one. Even after the 2010 merger establishing the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), I, like many of the other veteran members, have remained first and foremost an officer in green at heart. My name is Heiki Suomalainen, and I am a senior border guard officer at the Mustvee Border Guard Station.

Day in the Life: Tiit the sport facilities manager

13.01.19 ... One might think that, in terms of ski conditions, the more snow in the forecast, the better. The night before a major cross-country event, however, it's sometimes better to cross your fingers that the trails you and your team spent days prepping and grooming to standard don't see another centimetre. My name is Tiit Tammemäe, and I am the manager of sport facilities at Tehvandi Sports Center.

B1 Estonian exam, Part 3: Certificate and conclusion

03.01.19 ... I recently took the B1 Estonian language exam, primarily because it was simply there and doesn't cost any money, but also to investigate how practical setting that level as the citizenship benchmark is.

Opinion: Estonia 200 leader means well, but could actions benefit EKRE?

02.01.19 ... Kristina Kallas, chair of fledgling political party Estonia 200, which will be contesting its first ever general election a couple of months from now, raised some interesting points in a recent opinion piece where she set out Estonia 200's in opposition to the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE).

Christmas interview with Archbishop Urmas Viilma

23.12.18 ... Archbishop Urmas Viilma has been head of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK) for four years, ample experience to draw on his reflections on the church, the largest denomination in the country by attendance.

Day in the Life: Risto the sausage cutter operator

22.12.18 ... When Estonian families sit down to their Christmas dinners next week, many of their tables will include traditional staples like liver pâté and the popular holiday favourite blood sausage. While some still make their own, I make sure that their store-bought versions taste just right. My name is Risto Veinglas, and I am a sausage cutter operator at Nõo Lihatööstus Meat Processing Plant.
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