Estonian Restoration of Independence

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Estonian Restoration of Independence (juridically defined as the Restoration of the Republic of Estonia) was celebrated on 20 August 1991. As on that day at 23:02[1] local time, the Estonian Supreme Soviet, in agreement with the Estonian Committee (the executive organ of the Congress of Estonia), proclaimed Estonian independence from the Soviet Union.[2] 20 August became a public holiday in Estonia.


On 30 March 1990, the Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSR adopted a resolution on the state status of Estonia. Declaring that the occupation of the Republic of Estonia by the Soviet Union on 17 June 1940 did not de jure interrupt the existence of the Republic of Estonia, The Supreme Soviet declared the state power of the Estonian SSR illegal from the moment of its establishment and proclaimed the beginning of the restoration of the Republic of Estonia. A transitional period was announced until the formation of the constitutional bodies of state power of the Republic of Estonia.[3] On May 8 of the same year, the Supreme Soviet of the ESSR adopted a law invalidating the name "Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic". Also, according to this law, the use of the coat of arms, flag and anthem of the Estonian SSR as state symbols was terminated and the 1938 Constitution of the independent Republic of Estonia was restored.[4] A week later the law on the principles of the interim order of administration of Estonia was adopted, according to which the subordination of public authorities, public administration, court bodies was terminated and the prosecutor's office of the republic to the relevant authorities of the USSR and they separated from the corresponding system of the USSR. It was announced that relations between the republic and the USSR are now based on the Tartu Peace Treaty, concluded between the Republic of Estonia and the RSFSR on 2 February 1920.[5]

Independence referendum 3 March 1991[edit]

On 3 March, a referendum was held on the independence of the Republic of Estonia, which was attended by those who lived in Estonia before the Soviet annexation and their descendants, as well as persons who have received the so-called "green cards" of the Congress of Estonia.[6] 77.8% of those who voted supported the idea of restoring independence.[7]

Denmark recognized Estonia's independence on March 11.[8]

The 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt[edit]

The August Coup or August Putsch took place on 19–22 August 1991 and was an attempt by members of the Soviet Union's government to take control of the country from the Soviet President and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev.

19 August 1991[edit]

As the coup attempt was taking place in Moscow and with that the military and political attention of the Soviet Union otherwise occupied, various republics of the Soviet Union took the opportunity to declare their independence. On the evening of 19 August, delegates from the Estonian Supreme Soviet and the Estonian Committee started negotiations to confirm the independence of the Republic of Estonia. The main debate was a crucial one: should Estonia declare independence as a new Republic or continue with the juridical continuation of the Republic of Estonia established in 1918 and occupied in 1940.

20 August 1991[edit]

At 23:02 on the evening of 20 August 1991, during a live broadcast carried out by Estonian Television, the Estonian Supreme Soviet voted on the confirm of its Restoration of Independence.[9] Out of the 105 delegates of the Estonian Supreme Soviet 70 were present, 69 voted in favour of the restoration. Two delegates, Klavdia Sergij and Kaido Kama, did not register to vote and walked out before voting began. Those who voted in favour of the restoration were:[10]

21 August 1991[edit]

On the morning of 21 August 1991, Soviet paratroopers were taking charge of the Tallinn’s TV tower, while the television broadcast was cut off for a while, the radio signal was strong as a handful of Estonian Defence League (the unified paramilitary armed forces of Estonia) members barricaded the entry into signal rooms.[11] By the afternoon of the same day it was clear that the coup in Moscow had failed and the paratroopers released the tower and left Estonia.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ " - Augustiputš ja Eesti iseseisvumine 1991".
  2. ^ "Eesti riiklikust iseseisvusest – Riigi Teataja".
  3. ^ Постановление Верховного Совета Эстонской ССР от 30 марта 1990 г. «О государственном статусе Эстонии»
  4. ^ Закон ЭССР от 08.05.1990 "О СИМВОЛИКЕ ЭСТОНИИ"
  5. ^ Закон Эстонской Республики от 16.05.1990 «Об основах временного порядка управления Эстонией»
  6. ^ Маркедонов Сергей Референдум распада
  7. ^ The road to independence
  8. ^ «Лед тронулся»
  9. ^ Постановление Верховного Совета Эстонской Республики от 20 августа 1991 г. «О государственной независимости Эстонии»
  10. ^ väljak 10, Ajaleht Pealinn Vabaduse; Tallinn, 15199. "Tallinna ajaleht Pealinn". maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ a b " - The August coup and Estonian independence (1991)".