President Alar Karis is to decorate 148 people with state awards in his first year in office, with recent winter olympic medalist Kelly Sildaru aming the recipients.
Speaking ahead of Thursday's independence day festivities, the president said: "Wards are a tribute to the people of Estonia, and also our friends abroad, who have preserved our constitution to the letter, and the idea that the Estonian state is founded on freedom, justice and justice, the protection of internal and external peace and a pledge to present and future generations."
The awards' recipients are traditionally announced just before independence day, February 24, and actually presented in the summer.
Women's Freestyle Slopestyle bronze medalist Kelly Sildaru, the foursome of Katrina Lehis, Irina Embrich, Julia Belyaeva, Erika Kirpu, who together won olympic gold in the women's epee last summer - with Lehis also picking up a bronze in the individual event - and paralympics swimmer Kardo Ploomipuu are among the big sports names to be honored.
As last year, frontline health workers are also being recognized for their work during the pandemic, with Tiina Teder and Liisi Põldots , nurses at Tartu University Hospital and Agnes Aart , Head of Surgery and Nursing at Põlva Hospital, among many others to receive awards.
From the field of the media, Eesti Päevaleht investigative journalist Kärt Anvelt and ERR's Russia correspondent Anton Aleksejev are also being decorated.
148 was a relatively standard number for President Karis' maiden awards outing; last year, Kersti Kaljulaid awarded 152 decorations, up from 114 the previous year (and 100 in 2019(.
Kaljulaid's predecessor Toomas Hendrik Ilves kept award numbers to just below the 100-mark through most of his two-terms presidency (2006-2016), after somewhat of a spree during the time of Arnold Rüütel, who gave out hundreds of awards per year.
The six levels of awards in Estonia (also subdivided into classes) are: The Order of the National Coat of Arms (Riigivapi teenetemärk), the Order of the White Star (Valgetähe teenetemärk), the Order of the Cross of the Eagle (Kotkaristi teenetemärk), the Order of the Estonian Red Cross (Eesti Punase Risti teenetemärk), and the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana (Maarjamaa Risti teenetemärk), with the latter being the highest which can be bestowed upon a foreign citizen by the Estonian state.
The full roll call of recipients for this year is here (link in Estonian).
Editor: Andrew Whyte