INTERVIEW: “The weekend’s protests were the Russian people's, not the opposition’s” – Maxim Reznik
Western Balkans citizens legally resident in EU equal to 14% of region’s population
International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has stripped Belarus of the right to hold the World Championship this year
Alexei Navalny arrested on arrival as he returns home
@russian_market sacked by UBS for supporting Navalny
Elbrus Capital attracts major international players to invest in the Russian digital sphere
Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden have first phone call, extend START II treaty for five years
ING: Russian budget’s modest deficit leaves fiscal room for 2021
Public support is collapsing for The People’s Servant Party
Ukraine’s industrial output jumped 4.8% y/y in December
State-owned Ukrgasbank signs off on convertible €30mn IFC loan ahead of its privatisation
National Bank of Ukraine retains a key policy rate at 6%, the outlook of the CPI deteriorates
Estonia's two big parties agree on grand coalition
VISEGRAD BLOG: Central Europe's populists need a new strategy for Biden
LONG READ: The oligarch problem
OUTLOOK 2021 Lithuania
Czech billionaire Kellner´s PPF makes another bid for Moneta Money Bank
Czech MPs pass protectionist food law in violation of EU rules
M&A in Central and Eastern Europe fell 16% in value in 2020, says CMS report
Hungarian vehicle makers hit by supply chain shortage
COVID-19 and Trump’s indifference helped human rights abusers in 2020
Polish parcel locker operator InPost soars in Euronext Amsterdam debut
Polish industrial production continues boom in December
OUTLOOK 2021 Poland
OUTLOOK 2021 Slovakia
BRICKS & MORTAR: Rosier future beckons for CEE retailers after year of change and disruption
FDI inflows to CEE down 58% in 1H20 but rebound expected
BALKAN BLOG: Only better waste management can clean rivers of trash
Pandemic pushes public debt close to 80% of GDP in Albania and Montenegro
BALKAN BLOG: Superstition and resentment surround vaccination plans
Albania needs reforms for e-commerce to thrive, says World Bank
Bosnia's exports in 2020 amounted to BAM10.5bn, trade deficit to BAM6.3bn
Bulgaria’s latest nuclear u-turn
Retailers and restaurant owners threaten protests in Bulgaria if reopening is delayed
Bulgaria's Biodit first company to IPO on new BEAM market
Spring lockdown caused spike in online transactions in Croatia
ING: Growth in the Balkans: from zero to hero again?
Labour demand down 28% y/y in Croatia in 2020
Kosovo’s biggest opposition party risks being unable to run in general election
OUTLOOK 2021 Moldova
Storming parliaments: New Europe's greatest hits
World Bank revises projection for Moldova’s 2020 GDP decline to 7.2%
Montenegro’s special prosecution probes finance minister over €750mn Eurobond issue
North Macedonia’s state-owned loss-makers await new owners
North Macedonia plans to cut personal income tax in IT sector to zero in 2023
Romanian cybersecurity company Safetech floats shares amid rising investor interest
Romania government to pursue “ambitious” timetable for justice reforms
Private finance mobilised by development banks up 9% to $175bn in 2019
EBRD and WBIF support fast broadband in rural Serbia
Slovenia plans region's longest-tenor Eurobond
Slovenian crypto payment system enters Thai market
Slovenia’s economic sentiment indicator up 2.2 pp m/m in January
Slovenia lost €10bn by neglecting wood industry for decades
D’S Damat franchise deals ‘show Turkey’s hard-pressed mall operators becoming their own tenants’
Turkey’s benchmark rate held as concerns over faltering recovery come to fore
Turkish lira breaches HSBC’s stop-loss, Turkey ETF signalling outflows
Following war with Armenia, Azerbaijan gains control of lucrative gold mines
CAUCASUS BLOG : What can Biden offer the Caucasus and Stans, all but forgotten about by Trump?
Armenia ‘to extend life of its 1970s Metsamor nuclear power plant after 2026’
OUTLOOK 2021 Azerbaijan
OUTLOOK 2021 Georgia
“Try me” not telecoms minister Iran’s president tells hardliners in internet row
Iran’s President Khamenei menaces private citizen Trump
Iran’s technology minister indicted for failing to properly implement internet censorship
No US move to rejoin Iran nuclear deal imminent, say Biden national security nominees
Central Asia vaccination plans underwhelm, but governments look unruffled
Fears of authoritarianism as Kyrgyz populist wins landslide and backing for ‘Khanstitution’
COMMENT: Mongolia is an island of democracy
OUTLOOK 2021 Mongolia
Mongolia's PM quits amid protests over treatment of mother with coronavirus and newborn baby
Mongolia's winter dzud set to be one of most extreme on record says Red Cross
Tajikistan: Writing for the president is on the wall (and then scrubbed off)
OUTLOOK 2021 Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan: How the Grinch stole New Year
COMMENT: Uzbekistan is being transformed, but where are the democratic reforms?
Download the pdf version
The Latitude59 start-up extravaganza held each year in the Estonian capital, Tallinn, has over the last nine years developed a reputation for innovation, speculative thinking and, quite simply, being cool. This year’s event, running from May 31 to June 1, had all the ingredients for more of the same, plus one artificial additive that turned the whole thing a bit sour. That bland yet unpalatable ingredient was His Royal Highness the Duke of York, better known as ‘Airmiles Andy’ to his disloyal subjects for his renowned love of all-expenses-paid trips to exotic locations.
Tallinn might not be particularly exotic, nor particularly expensive to reach – even a business class ticket would barely dent the £43mn Sovereign Grant from which HRH is remunerated for whatever it is he does – but he was a very peculiar choice as ‘keynote speaker’ to open Latitude59. After all start-ups, and particularly Estonian start-ups, are supposed to be about young, visionary entrepreneurs competing in a meritocratic manner to access seed money that will allow them to make the world a better place.
So who better to get things going than a middle-aged, ponderous aristocrat who has never operated a start-up and has a history of hanging around with dictators and badmouthing “f*****g journalists, always sticking their noses in”?
His ten-minute keynote at Latitude59 did not disappoint, in that it was extremely disappointing. It began with HRH revealing he had just become the latest recipient of an Estonian e-residency card, but rather fluffing an attempt to make a joke out of it. “This is a wonderful gift of e-residency (pause). It’s slightly annoying (pause) that I can’t be more flexible (pause) about my residency (pause) in more general terms (polite tittering),” he quipped.
Effective public speaker he is not. If you can imagine a slightly over-inflated yet compressed version of Prince Charles, you have some idea of his physical appearance. And while his oratorical style – if a series of painful sighs can be described as such – is superior to Charles’ in clarity, it is inferior in vocabulary. He lacks both the comic delusions of his elder brother and the thespian delusions of his younger brother Edward, coming across as someone who would probably rather be elsewhere, provided the ticket is first class and can be put on expenses.
The rest of the ten-minute ramble, roughly half of which was pauses, included such insights as that education is important, that Estonia is great (but you already knew that) and that his job description is “to support British prosperity”, whatever that means. He did however have the consolation of being presented with a goody bag containing a chipmunk facemask, which one hopes will make it into his official declaration of benefits accrued.
Estonia has made effective use of its e-residency card scheme over the last year with Prime Minister Taavi Roivas popping up like some proactive political Scrappy Doo on countless US chat shows and Euro websites promoting it. The actual benefits of holding a card are limited, but as a marketing exercise it has been a genuine coup.
Card number one was issued to renowned Estophile Edward Lucas – a smart move, as it guaranteed that he would immediately write about it. Since then Ban Ki-Moon, all US chat show hosts interviewing Roivas and various other people regarded as good PR have had cards forced into their wallets, creating a blaze of publicity along the way.
And now Prince Andrew, an individual with a reputation that is hardly one most would aspire to. “There are some advantages in the connections that I have,” he said at one point in a moment of inadvertent candour, referring not to peddling influence in the Old School Tie manner or operating in a world of Central Asian authoritarians where kickbacks are to be had, but in his current role as the head of a start-up organisation called ‘PitchAtPalace’, which “offers the chance to get your tech business idea in front of a global audience of influencers who can catapult it to the next level”. It is quite likely some of his ancestors had experience of catapults, trebuchets and other manners of siege engine, so perhaps he has finally found his niche.
The rest of his advice to start-ups consisted chiefly of statements well beyond parody or self-awareness. “Start-ups need to understand that money doesn’t grow on trees,” he warned, a state of affairs happily not applicable to the Sovereign Grant, which is guaranteed by law never to pay less in any year than it did the previous year.
If the Duke of York is the new poster child for E-stonia, then one has to consider if the concept is at what start-up culture calls a “jumping the shark” moment. For those not familiar with the term, it refers to an episode of US sitcom “Happy Days” in which The Fonz jumped over a shark on water skis, instantly transforming the hitherto charming and funny show into a toe-curling embarrassment forever. It signifies the moment at which something good turns irredeemably awful.
Awarding ‘Airmiles Andy’ (at least it’s better than ‘Randy Andy’ as he was known before that) e-residency may not be actual jumping the shark, but it is perilously close; at least dancing with the dolphin, or possibly even prancing with the porpoise.
Sources in Estonia suggested to bne IntelliNews the decision to create the royal e-resident might have a simple but astounding explanation: that no one bothered to Google him. In the world’s leading-edge online country.
But luckily, Prime Minister Roivas was on hand to offer an instant alternative to the now uncool e-residency scheme. After watching HRH mumble his way through an unconvincing pitch for London as a place to start a business (“Coming to London is probably a stepping stone”), Roivas sneakily signalled to conspirators and the words “fastEST, strongEST, cleverEST” flashed onto a giant screen.
“Hehe... and modEST.” chuckled Roivas.
here to continue reading this article
and 5 more for free or purchase
12 months full website access including
the bne Magazine for just $250/year.
Register to read the bne monthly magazine for
Password could contain only
and have 8-20 symbols length.
Please complete your registration by confirming your
A confirmation email has been sent to the email
address you provided.
can't be empty.
No user with
this email address.
Access recovery request has expired, or you are using
the wrong recovery token. Please, try again.
Access recover request has expired.
Please, try again.
To continue viewing our content you need to complete
the registration process.
Please look for an email that was sent to
with the subject line
"Confirmation bne IntelliNews access". This email will have
instructions on how to complete registration
process. Please check in your "Junk" folder in
case this communication was misdirected in your
If you have any questions please contact us at email@example.com
Sorry, but you have used all your free articles fro
this month for bne IntelliNews. Subscribe
to continue reading for only $119 per year.
Your subscription includes:
For the meantime we are also offering a free
digital weekly newspaper to subscribers to
the online package.
Click here for more subscription options,
including to the print version of our
flagship monthly magazine:
Take a trial to our premium daily news
service aimed at professional investors that
covers the 30 countries of emerging
For any other enquiries about our
products or corporate discounts please
contact us at
If you no longer wish to receive
Magazine annual print
Website & Archive
Combined package: web
access & magazine print
Take a trial to our premium daily news service
aimed at professional investors that
covers the 30 countries of emerging Europe: