Estonians see spies everywhere

Published on 6 May 2010 at 13:02

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“Last month a conference of budding ethnologists and folklorists in Tartu was suddenly disrupted by two policemen,” recounts Eesti Päevaleht. The cops were snooping on a folklore expert from India who had just arrived to do her PhD at the university there. The national authorities are trying to ferret out students and aspiring researchers who may have come to “spy on Estonian research and production”, explains the Estonian daily. The usual suspects are the swelling ranks of Chinese, Indian and Russian students particularly keen on bioengineering, military research and new technologies. Estonia’s education minister is trying to gauge how much access they have to the country’s most sensitive research sectors. The national security services, for their part, vet the students’ applications. “The real problem is scientists who’ve worked at Estonian universities, made discoveries there and have left the country again to start up companies,” elucidates Rein Raud, chief education officer at the University of Tallinn.

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