Latvian–Baltic MailerVolume XI Nr. 3February 10, 2017


Sveiki, all!

Tensions continue to run high in the Baltics as additional NATO forces and weapons are stationed there in response to Russia escalating its war in Ukraine.

In this issue's links, we wish a photographer a speedy recovery after being wounded in Ukraine, feature music by the late Estonian choral composer Veljo Tormis, and a report by the Estonian intelligence service on the nation's security.

Our news focuses mostly on Baltic security, but also including congratulations to Estonia on its ranking in education. In sports, Belarus and Latvia may co-host the 2021 world hockey championship.

Our picture is from another winter in Rīga.

In this issue:

Ar visu labu,

Silvija  Peters

Baltic Link(s)

Some argue that journalism must be apolitical, must not pass judgement on the actions and events it reports. But we cannot let pass our leading news story this week, the Soviet-style militarization of this year's Estonian Independence Day celebration. We thank those documenting Russia's deadly aggression against its neighbors, such as photographer Christopher Nunn. We hope for his full recovery after being wounded
in Ukraine.

We feature a link to a gallery of Nunn's images:

Chris Nunn immerses himself in the turbulent regions of Ukraine

Beloved Estonian choral composer Veljo Tormis passed away in January. We came across a discussion of his works including insights from the composer himself. Following is the music included in the article.

Lauliku Lapsepoli
(“The Songster’s Childhood”)

Rota Dziesma
(“Spring Song”)

Raua Needmine
(“Curse Upon Iron”)

Remembering Estonian Choral Composer Veljo Tormis

The Estonian intelligence service has released its 2017 annual report on international security. It is mentioned in the news below ("Estonian Intelligence Accuses Russia of Waging Information War on EU, NATO").

International Security and Estonia, 2017


U.S. Abrams tank to participate in Estonia’s Independence Day parade

With the centenary of Baltic independence only a year away, one would have hoped that independence day this year would be celebrated with a parade of singers and dancers in folk costume, with children—the next generation—leading the way, perhaps strewing the road with rose petals.

Instead, in a sign of the times, Estonia will mark that hallowed day this year with a parade of defiance against Russian aggression, complete with a U.S. Abrams tank. Baltic News reports: "Participating in this year's parade will be more than 1,000 personnel and 100 units of equipment, a total of 41 flags, five companies, four batteries, 22 platoons and three orchestras. In addition to the orchestras of the Estonian defense forces and the Police and Border Guard Board, a band of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe will take part in the parade." Nor will the NATO tank be alone. The parade will bristle with infantry fighting vehicles and armoured personnel carriers of the Estonian military, and a U.S. M2 Bradley.

You can read the full story at the link, above.

Fence stretching 23-km already up on Latvia-Russia border

Latvia is building its own border fence with Russia, with the first 23 kilometer stretch completed in Ludza. Fencing will eventually stretch along 193 of the 276 km border.

You can read the full story at the link, above.

Latvia Factory Output Rises

Good news, manufacturing in Latvia is up by 5%, the largest growth since 2012.

You can read the full story at the link, above.

Estonian Intelligence Accuses Russia of Waging Information War on EU, NATO

“'To amplify tensions, Russia, both on its own and through allies, spreads disinformation – a mix of truth and lies intended to mislead the target. The Kremlin makes extensive use of Russian-language and foreign-language media outlets, as well as countless fake social media accounts,' the International Security and Estonia 2017 report reads."

Russian state media reports on the annual security assessment published by Estonia's intelligence service. Their factual recounting is followed by the usual Russian denials. Our "links" section features a link to the report.

You can read the full story at the link, above.

TASS website blacklisted in Estonia for alleged anti-Estonian propaganda

TASS complains about its own blacklisting as anti-Estonian propaganda web site by project "Propastor", linked with Estonia's Defense Ministry. Fellow blacklistees mentioned include RT, Channel One, NTV, Ren TV, RBC, and Earlier television channels blacklisted include Channel One, Rossiya-1, Rossiya-24, NTV, and Zvezda.

You can read the full story at the link, above.

The recipe for success in the Estonian basic education system

A long, worthwhile, richly-illustrated read examining what makes the Estonian education system—as measured by the PISA tests the best in Europe—work for its students.

Estonia ranks as highest European nation

Credited for high scores are "motivated students, hard-working and professional teachers and supporting homes." There is also strong emphasis on equal access, the test results for Estonia vary less by student background than in most other countries. While students have a strong sense of duty to succeed, this also leads to a certain lack of joy. Strategies for improving student joy are explored.

You can read the full story at the link, above.

Radio Free Europe, Voice of America launch new Russian-language TV channel

After concerns that the Trump regime would gut Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE) and Voice of America (VoA), putting a couple of twenty-something blogger-supporters in charge at VoA
, RFE/VoA launched a 24-hour Russian-language channel, "Current Time," providing an alternative to government-run media. In trial operation, Current Time, or Настоящее Время (Nastoyashchee Vremya) in Russian, garnered 160 million views on social media last year. RFE is leading the effort out of its headquarters in Prague. The change in the U.S. administration is not expected to impact operations.

You can read the full story at the link, above.


Chances of Belarus and Latvia co-hosting 2021 IIHF World Championship seen as high

Hockey fans take note! Belarus and Latvia have a strong chance to host the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) 2021 world championship. In support of co-hosting, the countries would work to, per the news report, "secure a cross-border corridor for fans, participants and officials."

You can read the full story at the link, above.

Picture Album

A Rīga winter picture from ten years past.

Arriving home on a cold December day.

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