Hirvepark 35th anniversary marked with gathering

This year's event, marking the 35th anniversary of the Hirvepark gathering.
This year's event, marking the 35th anniversary of the Hirvepark gathering. Source: ERR

Tuesday marked 35 years have since the Hirvepark rally, the first major public event openly critical of the Soviet occupation of Estonia, and a gathering commemorating that event was held in the same location in central Tallinn, including this year, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported.

Former MEP Tunne Kelam, who spoke both at the second ever Hirvepark gathering in 1988, and in subsequent rallies there, told AK that: "Hirvepark marks the beginning of Estonia's independent civic associations. It was not just an isolated event to be commemorated, but the spirit continued."

"[Leading dissident of the era] Lagle Parek immediately began the practical work of collecting signatures to erect a memorial to the victims of communism right here, 35 years ago. And the people did give their signatures," Kelam went on.

Parek herself, reminiscing about the 1988 event, said: "There were KGB vehicles somewhere nearby, as no one knew how we were going to act. But no one touched us, and we left the event calmly. Everyone felt very happy with the fact that we had unexpectedly succeeded."

Parek, who went on to become interior minister in an independent Estonia, was one of the original group who convened the 1987 demonstration, four years before Estonia became independent and two years before the Berlin Wall fell.

The demonstration shed light on the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, which carved up central and Eastern Europe into spheres of influence, with Estonia falling under the Soviet sphere.

The Hirvepark demonstrations became a tradition, preparing the restoration of the Republic of Estonia on the basis of legal continuity.

At Tuesday's rally, Parek stressed the necessity of education, adding that an educated person can cope even in the most stressful times.

Hirvepark, literally "Deer's park", is in central Tallinn, close to Toompea.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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