Across Our Region: Top stories from the last seven days

The biggest stories, and other interesting news, from the eight Nordic and Baltic countries plus our eastern neighbour Russia.

Across Our Region

Hej! Tere! Sveiki! Halló!

If you’re a regular News Now Finland reader then hopefully you’re well-versed in all the news that’s happening here at home. But do you know what’s going on across our region? What’s been hitting the headlines in Iceland or Lithuania? What are the top stories in Denmark or Estonia?

In our new regular Sunday morning feature we’re pulling together the most important stories – and some other interesting pieces of news – from the past week in seven Nordic and Baltic countries, plus our eastern neighbour Russia.

Everything’s in one place, with links to more information and sources clearly marked, so you can be sure there’s no fake news. Enjoy scrolling through the stories on your phone or tablet every Sunday, and catching up with the news Across Our Region.

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic are being noticed on the streets of Estonia with fewer cars and emptier buses in Tallinn. New figures released this week show 20% fewer cars during rush hour and almost a third less passengers on public transport in the capital. Part of this is due to more people working from home, but also because people are less keen to be packed together on buses during the day. [ERR]

Some 200 people attended an anti-mask protest in Tallinn on Friday, after the Estonian government made it mandatory to wear face masks in public spaces. The requirement comes into force next week, and protesters say it infringes their human rights. [Baltic News Service / ERR] 

A new poll in Sweden this week finds that 82% of people are worried about whether their healthcare system can cope with the surge in coronavirus cases during the current second wave. The same poll finds confidence in authorities’ ability to fight the virus falling, while a rising number of people in Sweden think authorities aren’t doing enough to tackle the pandemic. [Bloomberg]

A health watchdog says it has uncovered “serious deficiencies” in the care of Covid-19 patients in Sweden’s nursing homes. Coronavirus deaths in elderly care homes make up around half of the country’s 6,400 fatalities from the disease. The Swedish Inspectorate of Health and Social Services IVO identified issues with the quality of care across the country, and said some residents had died from Covid-19 without any medical examination. [Euronews]

Swedish MEP Peter Lundgren has been charged with sexual harassment according to the Swedish Prosecution Authority. The alleged incident took place in a Stockholm hotel room in 2018 and involved a female party colleague from his own right-wing Sweden Democrats party. Lundgren has denied any wrongdoing. [Radio Sweden]

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is calling for the EU to impose sanctions on Russian oligarchs. Navalny, who was the victim of an apparent poisoning in August, made the demand in a video call with the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee on Friday, and says he wants to see Vladimir Putin‘s closest and richest allies – like the owner of Chelsea football club Roman Abramovich. Navalny reasons that financial sanctions against Putin’s wealthiest friends would hurt the Russian leader more than, say, travel sanctions against Russian generals or officials. “I’m definitely not the first one, and unfortunately I will not be the last one who is poisoned or killed, and it is extremely important for the Russian people to know Europe and the European parliament will not keep silent on such events” the politician and anti-corruption activist told MEPs. [The Guardian]

Denmark is suffering from a case of zombie mink carcasses, with the animals rising from the dead! Some of the thousands of mink culled to minimise the risk of them re-transmitting a new coronavirus strain to human have risen from their shallow graves in western Denmark after gases built up inside the bodies. The animal carcasses were buried in trenches that are 2.5 meters deep and 3 meters wide. Although each layer of animals is covered in chalk, the sandy nature of the soil where they were initially buried has allowed the top layer of animals to “pop up” according to officials. The animals could now be cremated. [Associated Press]

The Danish government has unveiled their Covid-19 vaccination plans with the first group set to receive their shots as early as next month. “Us getting the vaccine will be a game changer. It will be a deciding weapon against COVID-19” says health minister Magnus Heunicke[Copenhagen Post]

Latvia recorded its second-highest every daily number of Covid-19 cases this week, at 753 new cases on Saturday. The previous high was on Thursday. Out of all the people being tested some 9.8% are coming back with positive results. [LVM – Latvian Public Broadcasting]

Some positive news for the Latvian economy this week as new figures showed that retail trade grew 6.4% in October 2020 compared with the year before. Some of the biggest rises were in electrical household appliances, pharmaceutical and medical goods, and hardware and construction tools. [Baltic News Network]

New data from Norway this week suggests that national and local measures aimed at reducing the spread of coronavirus are having an effect. Norway’s overall level of new Covid-19 infections is currently trending downwards, with around 500 new cases every day in the last week on average. [AFP / The Local Norway]

Archeaologists have uncovered a haul of ancient artifacts from a melted ice field in Norway’s Jotunheimen Mountains – spanning thousands of years from the Stone Age all the way through to Medieval times. The discovery, published this week as a study in The Holocene journal, also included the remains of reindeer antlers, Iron Age scaring sticks used in reindeer hunting and a 3,300-year-old shoe from the Bronze Age. The arrows mark the earliest ice finds in Northern Europe, according to the study’s authors. [CNN]

A government task force in Iceland recommends using economic incentives to improve public health. One of the top suggestions is raising the price of products with a high sugar content by 20% – as obesity is more common in Iceland than other Nordic countries. [Iceland Monitor]

Icelandic singer Daði Freyr and his band Gagnamagn have made it onto Time Magazine’s list of 10 best songs of the year with their hit ‘Think About Things.’ The catchy 80’s synth-pop track was supposed to be Iceland’s entry for the Eurovision Song Contest this year but the event was ultimately canceled. However fans made the song an online hit anyway, becoming the sountrack to a popular quarantine dance challenge. [Reykjavik Grapevine]

Lithuania is getting a new government, which for the first time will have female leaders of the three coalition parties. Half of the government’s 14-strong cabinet – if approved by the president – will also be women. The reaction to the news of the proposed new female-centric government has not been universally welcomed in Lithuania, which ranks 22 out of 28 on the EU’s Gender Equality Index, below the EU average and down four places since 2010. [Euronews]