teisipäev, juuni 26, 2007

Jüri Pihl: Estonia's Bad Ass Interior Minister

About two months ago when Tallinn was undersiege by drunk teenagers loyal to Western name brands, three gentlemen made an emergency, 3 am decision to relocate the most odious monument in Estonia immediately to a military cemetery, as opposed to after May 9.

As the cameras panned on the three, Andrus "Hunt Kriimsilm" Ansip, Defense Minister Jaak "Tartu Ülikoolimees" Aaviksoo, and Interior Minister Jüri Pihl, Ansip looked shaken, but not stirred, Aaviksoo looked barely defrosted, and Pihl appeared unnervingly cognizant, with all the calmness of a Kuressaare fisherman before he lops off another one of his catch's heads.

According to Eurasian Secret Services Review Pihl is now strengthening KAPO with another position that will hopefully enable it to make better decisions and weather political storms in the future. He is in the business, it seems, of building a stronger bureaucracy.

I usually don't like the idea of a bold, efficient secret police. But there is something oddly charismatic about Pihl that makes me think that he knows what he is doing. Even when he smiles for Kanal 2, it is not an evil smile, but at the same time, not one of pure joy either. It is the smile of some one about to flip Elo Mõttus into a full nelson and ask her about her ties to terrorist organizations. Estonia might be a nice, peaceful country of blondes with mobile phones and a cross country skiing fetish, but I am glad such people have found their natural place in its bureaucracy.

What have you heard about Estonia's interior minister? Any disappearing kroon acts, ala Siim Kallas? Ties to shady Gotlander businessmen? Too fond of Saaremaa vodka? Any more info on this key minister would be a plus.

33 kommentaari:

Kristopher ütles ...

Sigh. There are days when I wish the Royalists were in government.

I don't have any information on Pihl except I'm pretty sure I heard his hobbies include grilling, and talking with friends.

Funny, I was just thinking about Siim Kallas. I wonder, did he or did he not end up with the 10 million dollars? Is the irony that he is EU Commissioner for Fraud lost on anyone in Brussels? How much did Kaju get? What is the conventional wisdom on this? 5 million for Kallas, 5 million for Sher? There are so many answers to questions I want, but it just seems as hopeless as finding out the cause of death for any prominent Estonian, it's never in the obituary -- but you get the feeling everyone else knows.

Kaarel ütles ...

wait.. don´t mean to be hairsplitter, but didn´t Siim Kallas supposedly get 10 million Estonian Krones, instead of dollars? :)

Flasher T ütles ...

Well, 10 million dollars disappeared, we can only wonder how much Kallas himself got. ;)

Mait ütles ...

Not much to say about Pihl, apart from that he's good at what he does. Of course what he does can be summed up with two words: secret police.

Pretty much everything he's run recently - no matter how innocent - has acquired KAPOish characteristics eventually, so it's good he can use his talents on the real thing;)

Andres ütles ...

So Pihl is like the Putin of Estonia. Both ex-secret service guys with an all-knowing appearance, now in politics.

Sgt. Pepper ütles ...

Hah! Nice tonque-in-cheek praise to our leaders.

Clearly Giustino is acquiring the Estonian "upside-down" humour along with the language.

Well done.

andres ütles ...

Dangerous times + bad neighbours (can) = culture of the jackboot. I'm frankly more wary of the moustache than his politics. Nice post, G.

Juan Manuel ütles ...

It is kind of annoying how often the words KaPo and secret police come up in Estonian media. At first I tried to ignore it, but then you get the feeling that Estonians are increasingly paranoid.

Ok, they have a very big and annoying neighbor, but still they should stop telling everybody that have a secret police. Everybody has a secret police, but Estonians seem to be trying to make it public.

Juan Manuel ütles ...

By the way, can somebody explain or put here a link to the story with the magic disappearing crones act? What was it about?

andres ütles ...

Kristopher: I miss the Royalists, too. Not sure why Kallas gets singled out like that. Okay, being central bank gov/FM/PM hoists that monkey's arse pretty high up the tree. But it's kind of like the Cranberries' title, 'Everyone is doing it, so why can't Siim?'

Sometimes wonder if the only high-profile type who didn't get some gravy was Kalle Kulbok, who, last I heard, was an embittered IT fella in Tartu, railing against EU mbsp. Anyone know where he is now? He had some inspired moments. But not as inspired as that dead caterpillar on Pihl's upper lip...

andres ütles ...

I've given it some serious thought over recent hours: Siim Kallas is moustachioed -- just like Pihl!

I cannot believe I didn't make the connection before now.

Kristopher ütles ...

Understandable oversight, Andres; for Kallas it's iconic, like a certain bowtie. Pihl's is not.

But yeah, that's probably the only reason why I went off on that tangent. The timestamp on comment #1 probably explains a thing or two, too.

I don't grudge Kallas a moment of his fortunes. Just don't want to be out of the loop.

Sgt. Pepper ütles ...

It is funny how eastern europeans in general have not discovered yet how moustaches look so gay.

It reminds me how I used to be shocked myself to learn that Freddy Mercury was gay.

Some good jolly 'ah-ha' moments may well be in store.

andres kahar ütles ...

Sgt. Pepper: you've opened an entirely new door. I've devoted the last 24 hours to cracking the historical equations and counterfactuals that link moutaches to political leadership. Now, homosexuality. Boy, add togas to the mix, and 21st C Baltikum could become as much fun as Fifth C Athens, for the men with moutaches anyway. Point is: if Siim got off with 10m EEK, he had quite a wad to blow.

Kristopher ütles ...

One thing that is really gay here is that people keep on writing 10 million kroons. Trust me, it was 10 million bucks, and this was back when the dollar was still strong too. 10 million kroons - that's a typical real estate deal by Savisaar.

I've noticed that men in the Latvian and Lithuanian countryside seem to have the highest percentage of those particular whiskers -- Errol Flynn density. Young guys, too. Maybe it's like the mullet.

Estonian facial hair come in more types, but there is a specific Western equivalent for nearly all of them -- Koit Pikaro - Wilford Brimley or TR, Pihl - American high school principal or narc, Kalle Kulbok - Zappa

Kristopher ütles ...

Juan Manuel--as I have it the story is that...

back in the days when Baltic commercial banks were not owned by Scandinavians and occasionally failed spectactularly, an Estonian commercial bank named the Bank of Northern Estonia made a shady off-balance-sheet investment --amounted pretty much to giving some guy in Switzerland a lot of money to invest in other places. There wasn't exactly much of a credit history check. The Bank of Estonia (the currency board) in effect guaranteed the investment.

Later a bunch of documents turned up (on the persons of some career crooks arrested for other reasons) that indicated there was collusion between the central bank and the Swiss-Italian beneficiaries of the investment going all the way up to Kallas, the governor of the Central Bank at that time. In other words, it appeared not just that the central bank was bailing out a commercial bank with public funds, probably a big strategic mistake in any case -- but that Kallas and Co. were in on the investment plan from the get-go and wanted personal gain . A search warrant was executed on central bank attorney Urmas Kaju, turning up some documents that could be construed as a proposal for distribution of the profits from the investment of the 10 million dollars. The money probably went into oil companies pockets through the shady guys, Vito Schiralli and Mario Bertelli, but a lot of it probably lined the pockets of the people who provided the front money. So it isn't likely Kallas "stole 10 million" but it is naive to believe that people very very close to his level did not profit.

Juan Manuel ütles ...

Wow, they could not have picked a better guy to become EU Fraud Commissioner! He knows his stuff. ;D

Juan Manuel ütles ...

Sgt Pepper: I am not an expert in gay fashion but I think Freddie Mercury's moustache was more of a working class symbol than a sign of his sexual orientation. It was also a popular thing in the 80s. I have never considered moustaches to be specifically gay.

Sgt. Pepper ütles ...

Juan

I know. That's why it is so funny.

They seem not to realize that grooming in the style of Village People member sends a strange message to the public.

They seem to think that as long as you stay in character, you can get away with it.

Like John Bolton for example.

The funniest sight.

Sgt. Pepper ütles ...

Thinking back to the 80s. That was a much more innocent time back then. Who would have thought Judas Priest was a gay? Or biker outfits or cowboys.

Soon getting married is even too gay.

At least I keep reading the news that there's a fight going on to make it so.

I hope driving a stick shift will be kept from being stigmatized. (That's my personal thing to prove that I'm still a man's man)

Giustino ütles ...

Ah, Swiss and Italian beneficiaries. Now I see why they let Estonia in the EU ...

Blogaddict ütles ...

They found Siim Kallas not guilty in court. If I'm correct, his defense was pretty much like - how was I supposed to know that this was just another 'Nigerian letter scam'?

Whether he pocketed the 10 mil or lost it to the crooks, either way, it somehow made him out to be some kind of specialist in monetary matters. (Only in Estonia!!!)

Some may recall that he began building his reputation as a Mr. Know-it-all from reading the questions and answers on 'Mnemoturniir' on Vikerraadio.

It's like making Alex Trebek into Chairman of the Federal Reserve or something. He too knows all the answers by reading them from the cards.

Trebek also has a moustache.

Anyway, when looking at Siim Kallas, always wonder where's the 10 mil?

Giustino ütles ...

I always thought of Kallas as a silent-era comedian, like Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton. I was unaware that he had ever uttered anyything audible.

I thought he just sort of sat around, wrote op-eds, and twirled his mustache (no doubt thinking of the $10 million).

andres kahar ütles ...

I thought the same of Kallas until a few years ago. He served a half-hour on BBC's HARDtalk with the (then) wry moustachioed Tim Sebastian. Kallas did well and articulately. Their moustaches were evenly matched.

That single interview spun off into a mildly successful sitcom entitled Dangleberries!. It was basically a Brit rip-off of The Odd Couple, only with more facial hair. "Seamy Kala" (Kallas) is a slick, skirt-chasing Esthonian biznisman, who's recently arrived in Chiswick (London) to party and spend a recently acquired fortune. Grumpole Baily (Sebastian) is an undercover police officer -- stodgy, irrascible, by-the-book -- who's put on the case, because local authorities sniff something fishy about this effevescent Easterner. But, the two become roomies and friends, and hijinks ensue. I'd say the best episodes came in season three, when Dangleberries! introduced an absolutely outstanding character to boost ratings: Tits Vayhee, a cross-dressing Esthonian trucker with a penchant for shady apartment deals and troubling satyriasis. Look for it on DVD.

Blogaddict ütles ...

Thanks Andres. This sounds bloody funny already. I hope Netflix carries it here in the U.S.

Mait ütles ...

I remember the interview on beebs. At least Kallas understood the questions, unlike Paet when interviewed live at the height of tiblafest'07.

Kristopher ütles ...

Was Tits Vayhee a trucker? Because he made a minor appearance in the pilot as a rally car co-driver, prompting some laughs when he insists on driving stick despite his position as map reader.

nipi ütles ...

Tiit Vähi begun career as truck driver probably, came up to higher echelon from the post of local car park (trucks, buses, taxies etc) director to vice minister of transport. In early independence time also prime minister, but now making big money on business with russians, built up Sillamäe city which earlier dealt with radioactive materials, now growing up transit harbour beside production. Some dark strips in the story how he handled the Sillamäe privatization business to his own hands through prime minister's position - and not only. But later has kept his hands a bit farther from politics.
Concerning Kallas, I am at the opinion, that Kallas at that time was the face-guy in the Bank, not dealing so much directly with issue, but (maybe only) signing the papers. Actual blame should be laid to these times vice head Kraft, who did not understood enough english to see what was behind of the deal, but made the risky decision. On Kaju case, I happen to know poor guy personally, he was used just as cannon-meat, to protect higher asses (lost part of his memory and health through car crash driving drunken after the same work failure). Clearly he warned bosses, but, even being lawyer, had no strong spine enough to defend position to end. And now all the former bosses, who's heads were saved, behave like never met the guy (same story with the family - divorce, even son, being young politician - avoids contacts with father at all), who's trying to keep himself alive on small 'disabled people's' pocket-money.

But back to first comment - I also wish the Royalists to government - and not only. Concerning Pihl, seems that guy knows what he is doing. Being long time head of KaPo, he might have all the strong cards against any local politician.

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Carita ütles ...

Pihl is an absolutely ruthless Soviet-style, KGB-style idiot apparatchik. Send him back to the USSR where he belongs. They don't even bother to check their sources. Estonia would deserve wiser people heading their "secret" operations - these ones operate like the KGB in the 70ies.

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