In a move unprecedented in the region, Tallinn's Coca-Cola Plaza Cinema placed a sign in the lobby banning firearms in the movie theatre. In Estonia, a country where Kalashnikov assault rifles are as ubiquitous as cabriolets in California, the sign has proved a bone of contention. "I will not see movies here anymore," said moviegoer Peeter Püss, who refused to check both his Makarov pistol and Kalashnikov rifle.
Other cinema complexes in the region have no such signs, and Püss, as well as a growing band of moviegoers, are making an exodus to Cinnamon Cinemas at Solaris, the newer and still firearm-friendly movie house. "What fun is a Schwarzenegger film without your sidearm?" asked Püss. "Solaris understands me as a man and as a consumer."
The firearm ban is just one episode of growing pains plaguing the small nation after its recent EU- and NATO ascension. "Some say we can't adopt the euro if we're all carrying around guns and shooting them into the air all the time. I find that claim ridiculous," said Estonia's Prime Minister Andrus Ansip yesterday as he finished the Tartu Marathon, having skied 60 kilometers with a Kalashnikov strapped to each shoulder. "What harm does this do?" asked the prime minister, squeezing off a dozen rounds of burst fire into the air as women and children ran for cover. "What? Would you rather have Estonian men drink?"
Coca-Cola Plaza's sign (above) bans knives, guns, and other cultural items treasured by Estonians.