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Estonian report Estonian report
by Euro Reporter
2012-01-11 07:14:04
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Estonian Wikipedia makes case for tax exemption

Estonian Wikipedia is suing the government because of changed rules that deny Wikipedia tax exemption status as a non-governmental, philanthropic organization. "A few years ago, the Tax Board changed its way of selecting charities for the tax exemption list," said Raul Veede, a board member of Wikimedia Eesti, a Wikipedia-related NGO. "The text [of the law] remains the same, but the interpretation of it changed."

Veede explains that the new interpretation of what counts as a charity eligible for tax-exemption status now rests on two conditions: first, the charity must distribute material goods; and, second, it must serve people who are disadvantaged as compared to the rest of society. However, the Estonian-language website of Wikipedia, with its mission of content creation and information dissemination, does not meet these criteria.

"There has to be rich and accessible information, and that's why we need knowledge disseminated free of charge to everyone," said Veede. "Fortunately, the information is there, so that it can be distributed endlessly. Both city millionaires and village poor have equal access." Raul Veede hastens to add that this nascent legal case is not just a matter of Wikipedia, but also how Estonia defines the concept of non-profit civil society.


Estonian Pres must apologize for offending Russians – minority groups

The Assembly of the Ethnic Minorities of Estonia has renewed its insistence that President Toomas Hendrik Ilves must offer personal apologies for his offensive remarks about the country’s ethnic Russians.

It said in a statement on Monday that the explanation offered by the President’s chief of staff was not enough, could be easily construed as a hate message and would certainly damage the international image of Estonia.

In an interview published by a Swiss newspaper in December, President Ilves accused Estonia’s ethnic Russians of feeling nostalgic for a time when they were …a master race.


Government keeps Russian translation of laws a law priority

The Justice Ministry's 2012 directive will not require government offices to translate Estonian laws into Russian, thereby perpetuating the current situation, in which one-fourth of the nation is not guaranteed the right to read the law in their mother tongue. If Russian-speaking citizens or residents want a law translated into Russian, they'll have to pay a private company.

The 2012 directive formalized a status quo of the past few years, as hardly any laws have been officially translated into Russian since 2006, due in part to budgetary constraints. Before 2006, Estonian laws were regularly translated into Russian by the official gazette, Riigi Teataja.

But, since then, the laws have been translated into English - a reflection of English's status as a principal language of international business and policy. "Translating laws into English follows the government operational program goal to create a legal framework in Estonia that is consistently in contemporary English," said Priit Talv, a Justice Ministry spokesman.

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