25th Anniversary of First Independent Party in Soviet Union Marked ({{commentsTotal}})

The stone cairn at Pilistvere marking the founding of the National Independence Party Source: Photo: ERR

Founders of the Estonian National Independence Party (ERSP) gathered in Pilistvere over the weekend to mark the birth, 25 years ago, of the first independent political party in the Soviet Union.

Defense Minister Urmas Reinsalu, a member of IRL - the successor of the ERSP through several mergers - said at the event: "The courage of those men and women who took the step laid the foundation for Estonian statehood and citizenship to be restored on the basis of legal continuity."

August 20, 1988 came three days short of a year since the first major demonstration in Soviet-occupied Estonia drew attention to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, in which Hitler and Stalin came to a secret arrangement to divide Eastern Europe into spheres of influence.

That demonstration was followed by a February 2, 1988 rally in Tartu commemorating the Tartu Peace Treaty of 1920.

One of the founding members, Tunne Kelam, said the August 20, 1988 meeting to found the National Independence Party expressed the view that the nation-state was the only way to rescue the Estonian people."

"The initiators felt the need to do away with the Communist Party's monopoly on power, establish a multiparty system and put forward an action plan so that Estonians, who were under pressure from Russification, could endure as a people."


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