East Iceland Establishes Symphony Orchestra

Symphony Orchestra of East Iceland

The Symphony Orchestra of East Iceland held their first ever concert in the East Iceland Music Centre in Eskifjörður on Saturday, RÚV reports. The concert was in celebration of Iceland’s centennial anniversary of sovereignty and included the participation of men’s choirs from the region. The new ensemble is an exciting development for the region, giving its many talented local musicians a new platform for performance.

“It’s really unbelievable that we’re seeing this project come together,” remarked Karna Sigurðardóttir, director of the East Iceland Music Centre, adding that the foundation of the group was a grassroots initiative. “We have 29 instrumentalists on the stage who are from East Iceland, then 19 who come from the North and South, and the conductor. We have truly great musicians here in the east and it’s really important for them to have the opportunity to come together and play together in a symphony orchestra. And now we can perform symphonic pieces for Eastfjords residents, so it’s a very important day in East Iceland music history.”

The group’s first performance was conducted by Zigmas Genutis and featured concertmaster Zsuzsanna Bitay.

Ethics Committee to Investigate Klaustur Case

Gunnar Bragi and Sigmundur Davíð

The Ethics Committee of the Icelandic Parliament has been convened to investigate the so-called “Klaustur scandal,” RÚV reports. The parliament is investigating the sexist, homophobic, and ableist remarks MPs were recorded making as a possible breach of ethics. The appointment of former Prime Minister Geir Haarde, the details of which are discussed on the recording, will also be investigated as a possible breach of law.

Speaker of the Icelandic Parliament Steingrímur J. Sigfússon apologised to the nation yesterday for the remarks, made by MPs in a late-night conversation that has been front and centre in local media since last weekend. The group of Centre Party and People’s Party MPs, including former Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, was recorded making disparaging remarks about female colleagues over drinks at Klaustur Bar last weekend. The Icelandic public has reacted with shock and anger, holding a protest last Saturday that called for the MPs in question to be held accountable.

Ásta Ragnheiður Jóhannesdóttir, chair of the Parilamentary Ethics Committee, told RÚV its three members convened this morning for a short, preparatory meeting. The committee has not established a timeframe for the investigation, which will involve gathering data as well as statements from the MPs in question. This is the first time the committee is convened to discuss a possible breach of ethics.

A poll shows that 74-91% of Icelanders want the six MPs to resign. When asked whether they believe it was right for media to publish the recording of the MPs conversation, 86% responded yes, while 10% said no.

Runaway Confesses to Bitcoin Robbery

Sindri Þór Stefánsson - bitcoin

Sindri Þór Stefánsson, accused of partaking in the robbery of millions of dollars worth of Bitcoin mining equipment, has confessed to two counts of breaking and entering. RÚV reports that Sindri changed his testimony before the court case began yesterday morning. He says, however, that he did not organise the robbery.

Sindri was being held at low-security prison Sogni earlier this year under suspicion of involvement in the robbery. He escaped the detention centre and fled the country, but eventually turned himself in to police.

Sindri stated that he had originally contacted the individual who organised the robbery because he was hoping to set up a Bitcoin mining centre and was looking for an investor. The individual then suggested the robbery as a way to reduce competition. Sindri stated he believed it was a good idea at the time as he was facing financial difficulties.

Sindri stated he would not reveal the identity of the man behind the robbery, as it could have worse consequences for him and his loved ones. He added that he would return the stolen computers if he knew where they were located. Sindri told the country that the past year has been the most difficult of his life, and that he is no longer the same person he was before being placed in solitary confinement in prison.