Latvia-Lithuania border reopens | AFP

Border guards check the temperatures of travellers as the Lithuania-Latvia border reopens. The Baltic nations ease travel restrictions imposed to halt the spread of coronavirus and are reopening their shared borders. IMAGES

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Rural decline threatens Estonia’s ancient ‘isle of women’ | AFP

The small island of Kihnu in the Baltic sea is a unique, centuries-old society where women do most of the jobs on land while the men are away at sea fishing. But falling fish stocks and economic hardship are pushing more and more islanders to quit Kihnu in search of work elsewhere, leaving the island’s ancient matriarchal culture in danger of vanishing.

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Estonia stems fentanyl crisis but has few answers for US | AFP

For almost two decades, Estonia was ravaged by the man-made drug fentanyl, a highly addictive opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin. The drug used to kill one person every three days in the tiny Baltic state. But deaths have now plunged to less than a quarter of what they were, thanks to a police and public health drive which has made Estonia a rare good-news story in the desperate fight against fentanyl. Experts warn, however, that Estonia’s success may be difficult to replicate in other opioid crisis hotspots, such as the US where the drug killed 32,000 people last year.

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Secrets of Germany’s virus island revealed | AFP

It is perhaps Germany’s most dangerous island: the Baltic island of Riems is home to a research centre for deadly animal diseases. Established 100 years ago, the Friedrich Löffler Institute tests the world’s most dangerous viruses on animals, such as African swine fever, which has been devastating China since mid-2018.

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Finland begins fishing plastic ‘ghost nets’ out of the Baltic | AFP

Finnish environmental authorities have begun a project to trawl the Baltic sea and remove abandoned fishing nets, known as “ghost nets”, which continue to trap fish and other wildlife. Plastic fishing equipment disintegrates extremely slowly in the water, and the UN’s food body estimates ghost nets constitute one tenth of all plastic waste in the world’s seas.

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Finland begins fishing plastic “ghost nets” out of the Baltic | AFP

Finnish environmental authorities have begun a project to trawl the Baltic sea and remove abandoned fishing nets, known as “ghost nets”, which continue to trap fish and other wildlife. Plastic fishing equipment disintegrates extremely slowly in the sea, and the UN’s food body claims ghost nets constitute one tenth of all plastic waste in the world’s seas.

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Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters form human chain | AFP

Thousands of people hold hands across Hong Kong in a dazzling, neon-framed recreation of a pro-democracy “Baltic Way” protest against Soviet rule three decades ago.

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Hong Kong protesters form human chain in creative show of dissent | AFP

Thousands of people hold hands across Hong Kong in a dazzling, neon-framed recreation of a pro-democracy “Baltic Way” protest against Soviet rule thirty years ago. IMAGES

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Amid worries over Russia, Sweden returns troops to Baltic island

Under an icy rain, camouflage-clad Swedish soldiers crouched behind a log pile, aimed their machine guns towards the Baltic Sea and, at their officers’ barked orders, opened fire down the snow-covered range. It was routine training for the young recruits based on the Baltic island of Gotland, but these troops are at the forefront of Sweden’s efforts to bolster its military as Stockholm worries about Russian intentions in Europe and the Baltic.

Pope Francis starts tour of Baltic nations in Lithuania

Twenty-five years after the visit of Pope John Paul II, Pope Francis begins a tour of the Baltic countries starting in Lithuania, where he is warmly welcomed in Vilnius. However, revelations of child abuse continue to hang over the Church, with new revelations from Germany expected to coincide with the end of his trip.

NATO allies conclude Saber Strike-18 military drills in Poland

NATO allies concluded the Saber Strike 18 military drills at Poland’s Orzysz Military Base on Friday, with live-fire and aviation flights.
The drills had stared on 3 June, and involved 18,000 troops from 19 NATO countries, carried out to test the readiness of NATO troops in Poland and the Baltic states.

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World Cup: Serbia begin training on Baltic sea shores

The Serbian national football team begin training on the coasts of the Baltic sea, ahead of their World Cup debut against Costa Rica on Sunday. The team base is located in the small town of Svetlogorsk in the north of Kaliningrad, where locals are happy to greet the Serbian players and tourists arriving in the region.