Estonia: Deportations, Artificial Hills, Gray Passports, and Layoffs

Below is a selection of some recent posts from the Estonian blogosphere.

Itching for Eestimaa writes about Estonian women who survived the deportations of the 1940s, but whose tragic stories never found a reflection in the Soviet-time Estonian women's magazine, Nõukogude Naine:

[…] These women are no different than the young women of today, except life dealt them unfortunate circumstances that they ultimately had to digest and live with.

Why did they get the booty end of the stick? Why did they, of all people, have to travel to Siberia via cattle car, their families broken, their property confiscated, their health imperiled, only to come home to a fresh issue of Nõukogude Naine that made no mention of their very immediate history? […]

In another post, Itching for Eestimaa writes about the town of Kohtla-Järve:

[…] In the Estonian psyche, […] Kohtla-Järve is one of these Soviet labyrinths of apartment blocks, poverty, and Russophones, where if you ask for milk in the store in Estonian, you might get carbonated water or eggs. Since there are no water parks or medieval buildings, it is undeserving of a visit, and so nobody goes. […]

Blue, Black and White Alert examines whether it's possible to turn artificial hills that are “the byproduct of oil shale mining” into ski resorts:

[…] Of course, if you consider that oil shale mining has been going on for more than 50 years, and then you consider how the ash is currently deposited — scattered in a number of 100m hills, including one “mountain range” — and that in turn that ash has ceased to be deposited at the top of the hill but only at the base — it seems inexcusable, doesn't it? If we had focused on one hill, Estonia could already have a ski resort, not to a mention a landmark. One more bone to pick with the Russians at the reparations summit.

BabelTallinn writes about Estonia's ethnic Russians, many of whom hold “gray” passports of the stateless persons and seem happy about it:

[…] At Molly Malone’s pub in Tallinn’s old town, Ruslana doesn’t want her picture taken. ‘I still have a grey passport because it’s comfortable,’ begins the 24-year-old Russian flamenco dancer, who has a white complexion and pink-varnished nails. 116,000 people currently have a ‘grey’ passport, meaning they are stateless. They cannot receive a ‘blue’ passport unless they pass a language exam and another testing their knowledge on the constitution. ‘The Schengen zone has been open to stateless people for a year, so I can travel to EU countries and Russia without a visa,’ says Ruslana. With neither bank nor life insurance troubles, she feels ‘good with grey. I’ve spent my whole my life in Estonia, and speak Estonian when I have to.’ […]

In another post, BabelTallinn writes about Estonian Air's plans to lay off 63 of its 467 employees.

AnTyx reports that “[a]fter months of infighting and mutual accusations, the parliament has finally passed the new labour bill”:

[…] The upshot is that companies will have an easier time getting rid of unproductive or unnecessary workers, while employees will generally have more financial stability after getting canned.


Unlike the controversial French laws, this one isn't so much intended to give companies the confidence to hire new staff, as allow them to restructure and increase the efficiency of their process. This has been the principal complaint about the Estonian workforce – that its salary expectations had been growing out of sync with rises in productivity. The other problem was the sheer lack of manpower in key areas; so in the context of the financial crisis, this legislation does at least seem like a step in the right direction. It places additional demands on the budget, but it actually gives both employers and employees more confidence in the areas that count, while encouraging people to improve their skills and efficiency. […]

1 comment

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