The Estonian parliament, the Riigikogu, amended a bill on local elections yesterday by deleting a clause that would have required candidates for election to local government bodies to pass an examination in Estonian if they had not been educated in that language. The bill, first adopted in April, had been returned to parliament by President Lennart Meri, who refused to sign it into law on the grounds that the language clause contradicted both the Estonian constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights. Opposition had also come from organizations representing Estonia’s Russian-speaking community and by local leaders in Narva and Sillamae in northeastern Estonia, where the majority of the population are Russian speaking. They argued that passage of the law in its original form would exclude many members of the Russian-speaking community from running for public office and participating in the management of local affairs. (Interfax, May 16)
South Ossetia Agreement Signed.