MILITARY INCIDENT IN ESTONIA.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 98
Three soldiers belonging to a special-operations unit of Estonia’s armed forces have been arrested after holding up a group of farmers at gunpoint in order to rob them of 75,000 kroons (US$5,100). The intended victims turned out to be armed and shot in self-defense, critically wounding the warrant officer who commanded both the unit and the holdup. That officer is also suspected of involvement in two previous incidents–the theft of sixty-nine submachine guns from a military depot and another holdup in which a cashier was shot to death in January of this year.
President Lennart Meri has termed the latest incident “a blow to the country’s and the army’s reputation.” The defense forces’ commander, Lieutenant-General Johannes Kert, has taken responsibility and tendered his resignation, but Meri decided to “give him another chance” to buttress discipline in the forces. Defense Minister Juri Luik has ordered the unit in question to cease all activities pending a decision on its status. Luik also announced plans to introduce closer supervision of all special-operations units and to carefully screen candidates for service in those units.
Luik has been back as defense minister since March of this year after a five-year hiatus (see the Monitor, March 26). During his first tenure in that post, Luik had to deal with insubordination in the Kaitseliit (defense league, a component of Estonia’s armed forces), in which Kert was once a commander. It remains unclear to whom the offending unit is ultimately subordinated. Luik and Kert have inherited from their predecessors a less-than-clear-cut chain of command–a situation which Meri criticized more than once. Their prompt and firm response to the latest incident suggests that remedial measures are forthcoming (ETA, BNS, May 18-19).
UNOFFICIAL PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN BELARUS–A MORAL AND POLITICAL SUCCESS FOR THE OPPOSITION.