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It’s clear that the leadership and day-to-day management of VEKSA was entrusted to veteran KGB officers, some with foreign intelligence experience. How specific were the directions developed by the Communist Party/KBG in establishing VEKSA’s pursuits? KGB officer Paul (Pavel) Toom, head of the 1st chief directorate of the Estonian KGB (foreign intelligence) compiled a top secret analysis of needs and operational priorities, which were widely distributed among other KGB branches in the USSR. This document was drawn up after the famous 27th party congress in 1986 had been held, where Mihkail Gorbachev had made radical proposals with regards to liberalization, perestroika and glasnost. 

 

The sun sparkled as we drove south from Võru and up a gentle slope to Suur Munamägi (Big Egg Mountain), the highest point in Estonia and, well, like a subdued hill. From the top of the tower we looked upon a rolling landscape of forest with patches of farmland, typical of the southeast.  At our next stop, the Võru Museum, we were the only visitors, a reminder of how peaceful the tourist path is away from Tallinn. Overall, the museum was grim, mostly about wars, with photos of tanks, soldiers and mass graves. I was drawn to a display of a bunker where the Metsavennad (Forest Brothers) lived while they fought guerrilla warfare against the Russians following World War II.

 

The Estonian Students Fund in the USA (ESF) provides scholarships and grants to students of Estonian descent.  The Fund has adapted to changing needs since its inception in 1961.  In the early years scholarships were given to recent émigré students. Although the focus remains on supporting 2nd and 3rd generation Esto-nian-Americans, the ESF now supports students of Estonian descent worldwide.  Five years ago, the Fund created a special scholarship category for Estonian-American students who wish to study in Tartu or Tallinn. 

 

We left Tallinn in our rental car and headed southwest toward Pärnu, the start of our counter-clockwise trip around Estonia. With little idea of what to see en route we decided to wander from one historic spot to another using the guidebook, Estonian Museums, and following the ubiquitous brown signs pointing to historic/cultural sites. Occupying a strategic location, Eesti has long been coveted and fought over and, thus, has an enormous number of castles, fortifications and other ruins. As we soon discovered, history abounds.

Although I’d never been to the homeland, I’ve always felt like an Estonian. Growing up in Canada, my family spoke Estonian at home and my brothers and I were involved in the Estonian community in and around Toronto. At university my involvement with the Estonian community continued although at a decreased level, and it diminished almost completely when I departed to Australia for graduate work. Marrying a non-Estonian lady moved me even further from my Estonian roots. But I never forgot.

 

 

ERR News - The head of Enterprise Estonia, Ülari Alamets, who refused to resign upon the suggestion of the agency's supervisory board last week, has reconsidered and decided to step down. The supervisory board was due to meet on Tuesday to discuss whether Alamets should be let go due to an agency mistake that may force 61 companies to repay a total of 10.5 million euros in EU aid.

 

The Estonian American National Council is pleased to announce that Maia Linask was elected to its Board of Directors at its annual meeting on September 29, 2012.  She has been an EANC member since 2010.  Ms. Linask is Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Richmond’s Robins School of Business. She earned her doctorate and two masters degrees at Johns Hopkins University; her undergraduate degree is from Harvard University. Maia resides in Richmond, Virginia. The EANC Executive Board is comprised of twelve directors.  They are: Krista Altok-Tassa, Ülle Ederma (Secretary), Arne Kalm, Gilda Karu, Maia Linask, Arved Plaks, Erik Puskar (Treasurer), Marju Rink-Abel (President), Eric Suuberg (Vice President), Airi Vaga, Ilmar Vanderer, and Viiu Vanderer.  

 

ERR News - Enefit has taken steps to produce the first batch of American-sourced shale oil and measurement results are expected soon. The Estonian company - the international arm of the state power company Eesti Energia  – has to prove the shale quality is acceptable in order to launch oil production in the US. American oil shale is different from the Estonian natural resource and its suitability for oil production has to be tested. The process is taking place in Germany, where 600 tonnes of Utah oil shale were transported for testing.

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