Former Estonian communist party leader Karl Vaino dies

Karl Vaino, 1923-2022.
Karl Vaino, 1923-2022. Source: ERR

Former First Secretary of the Communist Party of Estonia Karl Vaino has died, at the age of 98, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported Saturday.

His death was announced on the website of a Russian Orthodox church in Borodino, just north of Moscow (not the same Borodino as the scene of the famous battle of 1812 – ed.).

The Church of the Epiphany (link in Russian) stated that Vaino was buried on February 14 near a Soviet-era war memorial.

Born in May 1923, Vaino was ethnically Estonian and had a common Estonian second name, but grew up in Russia, only later moving to the Estonian SSR.

He was First Secretary of the Communist Party of Estonia from 1978 through to 1988, the first year of the Singing Revolution which culminated in full Estonian independence from the Soviet Union three years later. A hardliner, Vaino was replaced by the more moderate Vaino Väljas in summer 1988, after which he left Estonia for good, settling in Moscow.

Vaino spoke Estonian as a second language, and publicly only on rare occasions. His grandson, Anton Vaino, is current Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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