Membership of the voluntary Defense League (Kaitseliit) fell slightly in 2020 to 25,500 members as of the end of the year.
The Defense League, a volunteer body aimed at augmenting the regular Estonian Defense Forces (EDF), had 450 fewer members (a 1.8-percent fall) as of the end of last year, compared with a year earlier, BNS reports. However, members can be removed from the league's roll call for a variety of different reasons, including advancing age and ill-health, and the present figures also follow an audit of members.
The Defense League conducted its audit last year by contacting all registered members to quiz them about their status. Those who wished to leave for whatever reason were removed from the register.
While the Defense League has at times been employed during the coronavirus pandemic, including on Saaremaa at the peak of the spring wave of COVID-19 and on the eastern border at Narva, the pandemic has also had a negative effect on membership, spokespersons say, due in part to a cutting back of scope for activities.
Breakdown of membership
The Defense League has three sister organizations, for women (Naiskodukaitse), girls (Kodutütred) and boys (Noored Kotkad).
Naiskodukaitse actually saw a slight rise in members, by 23, to 2,686, last year, while Noored Kotkad had a net join up of three members, to 3,751.
Kodutütred membership fell by 65, to 4,025, while men's Kaitseliit hosted 15,088 members, BNS reports.
Editor: Andrew Whyte