Riigikogu marks centenary with exhibition, commemorative stamp and more

Rändnäitus "Riigikogu 100" Source: Erik Peinar/Riigikogu kantselei

The Riigikogu is marking its 100th anniversary in the week commencing 22 April, with, amongst other events, an exhibition, a special sitting, and the minting of a commemorative stamp.

Properly speaking, it was the Constituent Assembly that was founded 100 years ago, the forerunner to the Riigikogu, and the anniversary is dated to the installation of that body.

An exhibition entitled ''Riigikogu 100'' is to be opened on Monday at 13.00 EET, in the Governor's Garden adjacent to Toompea Castle, where parliament meets, by current speaker of the house Henn Põlluaas (EKRE), and gives an overview of Estonia's representative body's history.

According to ERR's Estonian online news, the presentation is laid out in a street format, around 10 m in length and 3 m in width, with ''houses'' representing the decades of the past, rather chequered, century, together with pictures and text concerning significant figures and major events, as well as LED illuminations, it is reported.

Since the Riigikogu's existence was interrupted by over half a century of Soviet occupation and Nazi occupation, two main phases, 1917-1940, and 1991-2018 are covered – the ''missing'' portion is represented by empty houses in the street outlined above.

The exhibition, realised by two Estonian interior designers, Ruumilabor, and Identity, together with graphic design firm Ruutu6 and furniture designers and installation company Red Hat, is set to run until 27 May, and the Riigikogu itself holds an open doors day on 25 May.

The formal Riigikogu sitting marking the anniversary takes place on Tuesday at 12.00, and will be carried live by ERR's Estonian news portal. Simultaneously, a stamp minted to mark the occasion will be unveiled, then at 13.00 a history on the topic, authored by historian and EKRE MP Jaak Valge, ''Estonian parliament 1917-1940'', is to be presented in Toompea Castle's White Hall. Meeting rooms at Toompea Castle are also to be renamed, honouring (prime minister and later state elder) Otto Strandman, (lawyer, newspaper editor and leading social democratic politician) August Rei, and (two times prime minister and state elder) Jaan Tõnisson.

Another event, a concert entitled ''Estonian Voices'' (or, depending on the translation, ''Estonian Votes''), is reportedly to take place at the Estonia Theatre in central Tallinn at 20.00 on Friday, and will be carried by ETV.

Brief timeline of events

Following the February 1917 revolution, which toppled Tsar Nicholas II, the Russian provisional government declared Estonian autonomy, and elections to a Provincial Assembly (Estonian: Maapäev) took place in July and August of that year (hence this week's festivities covering a period slightly longer than 100 years).

With the Bolshevik takeover of power in October 1917, Constituent Assembly elections were held in February 1918, but were disrupted by events leading to the Estonian War of Independence, both with the Bolsheviks, and with German occupying forces.

After the declaration of independence by the Estonian provisional government on 24 February 1918, the 1919 elections took place in April, using the d'Hondt system of proportional representation (which is still used today), with Estonia treated as one single district.

Those eligible to vote included troops in the front line of the War of Independence, and the assembly adopted a temporary Constitution of Estonia as well as reaffirming the previous year's independence declaration.

After the 1920 Treaty of Tartu with the nascent Soviet Russian state, the Estonian constitution was adopted, elections to the new Riigikogu took place in November, and the assembly was dissolved at the end of that year.

The original Riigikogu elected in November 1920 had 100 seats, compared with the current 101 seats. From 1922 the Riigikogu sat at Toompea castle, its current location (the 1919 Constituent Assembly convened at the Estonia Theatre).

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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