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Estonian report Estonian report
by Euro Reporter
2012-04-13 07:29:43
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Central bank plans to raise reserves to cut ECB risks

Estonia’s central bank said it must boost reserves by 3 1/2 times in the long term to reduce the risks of participating in European Central Bank measures to tackle the region’s debt crisis. Eesti Pank plans to increase its equity capital to 1.31 billion Euros ($1.72 billion) from 370 million Euros, raising its equity relative to the total for euro-area central banks to 0.26 percent, the same as its relative ECB contribution, its board said today in an e-mailed statement from Tallinn, the capital.

“The volume of Eesti Pank’s risk assets has significantly increased due to the financial crisis in the euro zone,” the board said. “The central bank’s risks have increased and the bank’s reserves must match those risks.”

The ECB’s decision to issue three-year loans to commercial banks has heightened risks to regional central banks’ balance sheets, Deputy Governor Ulo Kaasik said March 28. Estonia adopted the euro last year. The bank won’t contribute more than a quarter of its annual profit to the state budget until its reserve goal has been reached, the board said. Income was 22.7 million Euros last year, of which 5.7 million Euros will be allocated to government reserves, it added.


Opposition party loses four lawmakers as eight defects

Eight members of Estonia’s opposition Center Party, including four lawmakers, left the party citing its lack of democracy and disagreements with the leadership over “isolationist” policies. The eight, including European Parliament members Siiri Oviir and Vilja Savisaar-Toomast, said they would continue to stand for “a strong middle class,” according to a statement e- mailed today.

The move reduced the party’s seats in the 101-member Riigikogu to 21, following the defection of another lawmaker last month over dissent with Chairman and Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar. Tumult within the party will help the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, which saw its support in opinion polls slide last month to the lowest level since elections were held a year ago, said Rein Toomla, a political science lecturer at Tartu University.

The Center party and opposition Social Democrats back higher social spending and scrapping Estonia’s zero-level corporate income tax on reinvested profits. Center was the Baltic nation’s only party opposing parliamentary ratification of Europe’s temporary rescue fund last September and of the second bailout package for Greece in February, saying Estonia’s lower living standards didn’t justify help for wealthier European countries. Political infighting has cut Center’s public backing since January, according to an opinion poll by TNS Emor published on March 26. Even so, the combined support for Center and opposition Social Democrats rose to a record 53 percent last month following the country’s biggest strikes since independence in 1991.


Politicians show support for Pussy Riot

Video containing scenes from Pussy Riot's controversial Feb. 21 performance inside Christ the Savior Cathedral. Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves attended a concert in Tallinn on Sunday in support of the arrested members of punk group Pussy Riot, RIA-Novosti reported. The concert was organized by Estonian politician Juku-Kalle Raid in solidarity with the three women who were arrested after the all-female protest group performed an unsanctioned concert in February at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral that attacked longtime leader Vladimir Putin.

Influential music critic Artemy Troitsky also attended Sunday's concert, noting that "in Russia there has been no such concert in support of these punk girls, but Estonia is the first state in the world to show solidarity," RIA-Novosti reported. The concert was held after nine Estonian politicians, including Raid, sent a letter to Putin asking him to free the arrested women.

"With this letter we want to tell the Russian government that the legal system in a country that participates in the European Council, of which Russia has been a member since 1996, should not under any circumstances be ruled by political power," the group wrote, Estonian news reported. "These women were arrested on accusations of hooliganism," the group added. "But everyone knows they were protesting against the elections, against the authoritarian regime of Vladimir Putin and against the absence of free speech in Russia." The women face up to seven years in jail upon charges of hooliganism for their alleged participation in February's performance.

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