Former members of the Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSR who voted to restore the country's independence 28 years ago were honoured yesterday and told their actions could not be diminished.
The 69 members who voted in support of the restoration of Estonian independence are known as the August 20 Club and hold a meeting every year on the same day. On 20 Aug. 1991 at 11.03 p.m., the Supreme Council of the Republic of Estonia adopted the resolution to restore the national independence of Estonia with 69 votes in favour.
At the meeting held in Toompea Castle, President of the Riigikogu Henn Põlluaas said that the resolution passed by the Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSR was one of the most important moments in the history of Estonia.
Describing the political situation at the time he said: "A reactionary coup attempt had taken place in Moscow, the armoured vehicles of Pskov air assault division had reached Tallinn and the communist Intermovement was very active. The Passing of that resolution at that moment shows courage, bravery and commitment to the Republic of Estonia and the future of Estonia."
Prime Minister Ratas said he appreciated how the 69 members of the Supreme Council at that time put the interests of the Estonian people and the country higher than their personal fate. "At that moment, there could be no full assurances that the decision that had been passed would remain in place," Ratas said. "You could only believe and hope. By disregarding yourself, you shaped a much better fate for us all with your brave decision."
Liia Hänni, member of the August 20 Club and the Constitutional Assembly, said: "Choices shape the lives of ourselves and those close to us, but there are also choices that influence the future of the whole nation. Today, Estonia is decorated with flags to acknowledge the historical choice the Supreme Soviet made 28 years ago."
Põlluaas also presented the blue-black-white flags that had flown on Pikk Hermann Tower to the four people who had hoisted the flag on 24 Feb. 1989.
Editor: Helen Wright