Engaged in a process of integrating the Russian-speaking community and a candidate for membership in the European Union, Estonia permits free speech by the media in both Russian and Estonian.

Elected President of the Republic on 8 October 2001, Arnold Ruutel, a former communist leader who took part in the country's independence, is seen as determined to carry on the process of Estonia's joining both in the European Union and NATO. Laws on citizenship, foreigners and languages are now in conformity with European standards. Over the past year and a half the authorities have engaged in a "national integration programme" for the Russian-speaking community, which accounts for 51 per cent of the capital's population. The only recorded press affair, the murder of the owner of a Russian-language daily, does not seem to have any link with the victim's professional activities or his belonging to the Russian community.

A journalist killed

Last 9 and 10 August the police arrested two suspects in their investigation of the murder of Vitali Haitov, owner of the largest Russian-language daily, Estoniya. Both a businessman and owner of a business weekly, Vesti Nedelya Plus, Vitali Haitov was shot twice in the head on 10 March as he was parking his car in front of his home in Tallinn. The investigation seems to point rather to a settling of scores than a press affair or a crime against a Russian-speaker. Other members of his family are said to be involved in his affairs, including his son, who was murdered a year earlier.


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