Posts Tagged ‘Estonia’

Too much to fit into one update. The leads could be

Communisms’ legacy

  • in the Baltic states
  • in East Berlin
  • in demographies
  • its relation to other genocides like the holocaust
  • a prison
  • how do the people live today
  • Ignalina and its replacement
  • (Peripherally a subject matter, the western powers’ somewhat interesting views on Finnish-Soviet wars and relations and their potential wagings of war against the reds – project Pike forum summary and the book here)

Russian forest fires

  • Beriev’s share price (A Be-200 appears on the video 15 seconds in, hat tip to Secret Projects)
  • organization of society and its ability to handle crises
  • the smoke in Helsinki because of that
  • should they care

Hot weather

  • Here, after the coldest ever winter comes the hottest ever summer
  • Is it largely just winds from the southeast’s continental hotness – when usually they blow from the more marine southwest?

Climategate blahblah

  • BBC has apologized and some NYT reporter has said the NYT should apologize on some small back page article.
  • Follow Michael Tobis for climate related news

Read Full Post »

I’m back. And what a trip it was! I’ll only comment the end till now:

Today, thursday, 16. of July, I took the perhaps 1000 people carrying Eckerö Line Nordlandia ferry from Tallinn to Finland, crossing the 80 km wide Gulf of Finland. It left at 17:00 and estimated time of arrival was 20:30.

Medical Emergency

There was a medical emergency on board. A coast guard helicopter was called and it arrived much later when the ship was already visibly close to Helsinki. Perhaps an hour away? I can always check the date of the photos and videos later (tomorrow). There was a long time between the announcement and the helicopter actually being visible. I think one person was winched down from the heli, as well as some equipment. Much earlier, not much after leaving Tallinn, I (and many others) had seen a fainted woman being transported on a wheel chair in the main ballroom, and many speculated it was her who was the medical emergency person. I do not know yet.

I will upload video of the helicopter hovering tomorrow. It was quite close to some of the deck structure. I think it was a pretty small one, Bell Sky Ranger or related model. Definitely not super Puma or any modern enclosed rear rotor one.


Later, when approaching the Ruoholahti western harbour, the ship experienced some electrical problems. I was already on the car deck and most of the lights went off. Many lights on ships have inbuilt batteries that keep them on for some time even when the power goes off so it didn’t get dark really. I just thought it wasn’t anything big. If I remember correctly, the lights came back on, went back off, then came to stay back on.

Then I remember hearing distinct strong rattling sounds. I thought it was the sideways propellers for maneuvering, but it turned out later that they probably were the anchor chains being dropped. The ship didn’t shake at any point so I don’t think there was any contact with anything. (I’ve been on a ship (much smaller though) that hit underwater rocks, and it jumped up strongly, and also sounded a lot different.)

Since I still was waiting for my friend who was the car owner and had the keys, I was getting impatient and went back up a few floors (one pneumatic door didn’t work but the adjacent did, I don’t know if this was caused by the blackout or not) and phoned him (it’s impossible to find anyone on such a ship). He said he was at the stern and we weren’t going to land anytime soon. So I went there. And finally there were announcement on the speakers on all the languages (Finnish, Swedish, Estonian, English) that they are experiencing electrical problems, are anchored in front of the pier and are waiting for tugs to come help and it’s just an inconvenience.

We could literally see the pier about 200 m in front of us from the rear of the ship while waiting for the tugs to tend our disabled ship in. It had already turned around to back into its slot behind the faster green Tallink ship (that would have cost doubly for us, but would have left later and arrived earlier!), when the blackout apparently hit. A dangerous situation.

Eventually two tugs, Hektor and Protector (or some such) arrived and ropes were thrown and we were put safely to the intended spot on the pier and could go to land.

Conclusion, Speculation

It could have been much more dangerous though. I’m not clear what maneuvering capability remained during and after the blackout.

If it had happened for example when crossing paths with some tanker or other ferry in the very busy gulf of Finland, a large accident could have happened in a very short time frame. I also don’t know what would have happened if it had hit the pier with a swinging motion. It is always very potentially dangerous when a vessel becomes unable to maneuver.

I think this is a serious incident and should be investigated thoroughly. It’s good that there are mandated safety systems on ships like lights with batteries, anchors etc. They were definitely helpful in this case.

Read Full Post »

Documenting the Crimes of the Soviet Union

Three Estonian / Finnish authors / researchers recently organized a short seminar / book publishing publicity event, the topic being the cruelties and crimes that the Soviet Union did to Estonians during their occupation after the second world war. Helsingin Sanomat has a short writeup in English.

A few Russians from the “Nashi” or “Putin Youth” organization traveled to Helsinki to protest the “fascism in Estonia” because of this event.

Estonia is a small flat country residing in a strategic place. It has been historically overrun by Germans, Swedes and Russians. Like Finland, they were part of imperial Russia in the 1800:s and managed to get independent in the early 1900:s  when Russia changed to Soviet Union (the Estonians fought German forces too to fight off a “Germanification”). I’ve heard that the standard of living was comparable in the early independent Finland and Estonia.

In the second world war, Finland fought, but Estonia surrendered and was occupied by the Soviet Union. In the middle of the war, Germany occupied Estonia for a while, but had to retreat later. Then followed fifty years of Soviet rule, people were killed, moved to Siberia etc., lots of people from Russia were transferred to Estonia. It finally gained back the independence in the start of the nineties from the crumbling Soviet Union. So as a result there are two independence days, the original from 24. of February 1918 and the independence regaining day 20. of August 1991. Estonia is currently poorer than Finland, and lacks much industry. It is however improving, and has been perhaps the most successful ex Soviet occupied / controlled country.

It seems that some Russians don’t have good knowledge of the history. It is a fact that the Soviet Union has occupied Estonia and killed many of its citizens. Documenting this can not be called fascism. The Soviets were not wanted in Estonia, and they did a lot of bad things. It is already evident by just having a quick look comparing the present state of Finland and Estonia. (And was even more evident in the nineties.)

Relation to Finland

There is another, peripheral issue going on: a lot of people are saying that the Estonians are talking about their past painful experiences more openly than Finns. And that us Finns should talk about how much we acted so sheepishly after the war and let the Soviet Union meddle with us. There were also communists (“Taistolaiset”) in Finland in the seventies who entered a sort of self suggested counterfactual state where everything was great and beautiful in the Soviet Union, even when vast evidence pointed out that it was a miserable unhappy totalitarian state. They even went so far as to blame the Finnish war veterans for fighting to keep independence. Mostly, on the other hand, they were an aberration. The lead in Finnish politics tried to steer the nation so that we could just live in peace and not have to worry too much. Finland also had good trade relations with the Soviet Union (in addition to the west), which helped the Finnish economy.

In reality, what options did Finland have at the time? What can small countries do as a total anyway? Sweden had an easy time, sitting safely behind Finland and the Gulf of Bothnia and ridiculing how the Finns were bowing to the east. Could Finland have counted on the support of western nations in case the SU did something? It’s doubtful. It hadn’t happened in the Winter War either. And if there was support, and a massive war erupted, that would have just turned Finland into a battleground of the superpowers. Or if there were massive foreign military forces in Finland threatening Leningrad, that would have just given the SU more reasons to attack. Perhaps the politics that were done were the best possible. The Soviet Union saw Finland as a neutral, harmless and nice neighbor, and Finland kept its freedom and avoided significant threats. However, there are still ugly unearthed facts. How many people spied for Soviet union? How many prevented the publication of Soviet-critical stories in the media? Many former informers might be in the politics nowadays. CIA probably knows this from archives it has obtained. It could use this information to effect politics in Finland. There was a court case where Alpo Rusi, an adviser of Nobel laureate and former president Martti Ahtisaari, sued the state police who insinuated he had been a spy (apparently due to gross incompetence). He won.

Post-Soviet World

This is relevant to the post-soviet politics as well. Upon regaining independence, Estonia joined NATO as soon as possible and has sent troops around the world as part of the “coalition of the willing”. Many Finns feel Estonia is now just bowing to USA. Maybe this is just realism from Estonia – this is the only way for them to stay reasonably free and independent. Many Russians at the moment seem to be unable to cope with their own history and just assume any negative facts about them are controversy machinations by the USA.

Sweden is the biggest and most securely geographically placed nation of the three. It harped on Finland that had to do minor compromises with the Soviets during the cold war.  But Estonia is even more vulnerable than Finland – and now Finland is barking at Estonia for joining so easily with NATO and being forced to traveling around bombing third world countries with USA. It seems different political realities that justify different actions must be assumed. People don’t seem to be able to understand each others’ situations.

The last hundred years of Sweden are boring. Actually, the last two hundred. After the imperial Russia invaded the eastern part of Sweden (that is nowadays called Finland) in 1809, they haven’t really had any wars – as they are just surrounded by small buffering peaceful nations all around and are big enough to defend themselves reasonably independently.

The Future

Well, some depends on Russia. Finland is mulling whether to join NATO or not. Some depends on unpredictable things, like a global recession. Sweden has been driving down their army. Warfare is getting more technological rapidly – and getting more expensive too.

If history repeats itself, very ugly things will happen. In contrast to that, even just staying in status quo would be a wonderful world.

Russia has never been a real democracy. At the moment it’s at least relatively stable and the people have some means of income and some freedom – it’s doing better than ever in many regards. Low oil prices do hurt them. And the oil will run out in reasonable time – the reserves are not great compared to the speed it is pumped at.

Read Full Post »