Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) attended an event in St. John's Church of St. Petersburg to mark the passing of 100 years since a demonstration of Estonians calling for autonomy, which he said paved the way to a free Estonia.
Ratas and Secretary of State Heiki Loot attended a church service to give thanks as well as a concert to celebrate the passing of 100 years since the Estonians’ demonstration in support of their country’s autonomy, spokespeople for the government said. The events are part of the celebrations surrounding the Estonian centenary.
Ratas said that the centenary was a celebration for everyone, regardless of sex, age, or nationality. “We will celebrate it with dignity both in Estonia and abroad, because the history of our fatherland needs to be known and appreciated. This year marks a hundred years since the Estonian demonstration and the events that followed in Petrograd that paved the way for our free country. Let us celebrate the jubilee of the Republic of Estonia up to the 100th anniversary of the Tartu Peace Treaty together, in every village, district, country, and city.”
A memorial plaque was unveiled at the church to honor the demonstration held 100 years ago, and an exhibition of the links between those events and the church will be opened as well.
On April 8, 1917, around 40,000 Estonians gathered in Petrograd, as the city was then called, to demand self-government and autonomy for Estonia. The demonstration started at St. John's Church and headed towards the Taurida Palace that at the time housed the Russian Provisional Government. Four days after the demonstration, the Russian Provisional Government issued an order on the provisional autonomy of Estonia. The Livonian counties of Tartu, Võru, Viljandi, Pärnu, and Saaremaa were united with the rest of the country to form the autonomous Governorate of Estonia.
Ratas lays flowers in memory of victims of recent terror attack
Ratas lay flowers in memory of victims of Monday's explosion in the St. Petersburg subway at the Technology Institute station at noon on Saturday. The explosion that tore through a subway train on Apr. 3 killed 14 people and injured more than 50.
Ratas said in a speech in St. John’s Church that in spite of the tense global situation and terrorism that had shaken Europe, Estonia’s independence was better protected than ever before
“The explosion in St. Petersburg’s subway at the beginning of this week forces us once again to think about the nature of violence. There are still people in the world who want to conquer the minds of innocent people with fear and terror, and force their will upon them,” Ratas said.
“Such horrors have penetrated Europe as well. This is the familiar modus operandi of terrorists: to spread confusion, intimidate and paralyze, to provoke society into closing in on itself, and an authoritarian iron fist. We only can respond to it by countering terrorism together and preventing violence.”
“The horrific deeds perpetrated nearby on Monday are the complete opposite of what our ancestors were doing here a hundred years ago,” the prime minister continued. “The peaceful demonstration of nearly 40,000 Estonians that took place a century ago by its nature is very similar to the marches of our Song Festivals. Mass gatherings have been a sign of self-assertion for Estonians throughout times. Atrocities need to be answered with enlightenment and indeed moral superiority.”
The prime minister added that he was convinced that Estonia’s independence was protected better than ever before. “Estonians will never again have to go to another country’s capital to demand freedom and march for the right of self-determination. I hope that all our marches, manifestations, and gatherings are carried by the knowledge that we have navigated through our history alive and we deserve the freedom we have won,” the prime minister said.
Editor: Dario Cavegn