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Arnold Rüütel
Arnold Rüütel in May 2014
3rd President of Estonia

In office
October 8, 2001 – October 9, 2006
Prime Minister Mart Laar
Siim Kallas
Juhan Parts
Andrus Ansip
Preceded by Lennart Meri
Succeeded by Toomas Hendrik Ilves
Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic (From May 8, 1990: Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Estonia)

In office
March 29, 1990 – October 5, 1992
Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar, Tiit Vähi
Preceded by Enn-Arno Sillari
Succeeded by Lennart Meri (as President of Estonia)
Personal details
Born May 10, 1928(1928-05-10) (age 93)
Laimjala Parish, Saaremaa, Estonia
Political party Communist Party (Soviet era)
Conservative People's Party of Estonia
Spouse(s) Ingrid Rüütel
Children 2
Profession Agronomist

Arnold Rüütel OIH (Estonian pronunciation: [ˈɑrnold ˈryːtel]) (born 10 May 1928)[1] served as the last Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSR from April 8, 1983, to March 29, 1990, Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSR (from May 8, 1990: Supreme Council of the Republic of Estonia) from March 29, 1990, to October 6, 1992, and was the third President of Estonia from October 8, 2001, to October 9, 2006. He was the second President since Estonia regained independence in 1991. Rüütel also served as one of fifteen Deputy Chairmen of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.

During the Soviet Era[edit | edit source]

On April 8, 1983, he was appointed as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the Estonian SSR; thus he was also one of the 15 deputy chairmen of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. On March 29, 1990, he was elected as Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Estonia. He served during the confirmation of Estonia's independence on August 20, 1991. Rüütel continued in office until October 6, 1992.

Independent Estonia[edit | edit source]

Rüütel was also a member of the Constitutional Assembly from 1991 to 1992, which drafted the new Constitution of the Republic of Estonia. He stood as a candidate in the first presidential election in 1992. In the first round, where the people voted, Rüütel came first, receiving 43% of the votes. The second round was held in the Riigikogu, whose members voted for the two leading candidates of the first round; there, Rüütel lost to Lennart Meri.

In 1991, Rüütel took his Doctorate in agriculture. He served as Chairman of the People's Union of Estonia from 1994 to 2000, and was elected as a member of the Estonian Parliament, the Riigikogu, in 1995, where he acted as Vice-Chairman until 1997. He ran for President in the 1996 election (this time an indirect election with no popular vote) and lost to Meri once again.

Presidential term[edit | edit source]

He was elected President by an electoral college on September 21, 2001, defeating Toomas Savi in the final round by votes of 186 to 155. Rüütel was inaugurated as President of the Republic on October 8, 2001. Mart Laar's cabinet eventually fell later the same year. Rüütel announced in his election manifesto that his principal aims would be to reduce the negative effects that Estonia's speedy economic changes had had on a large number of people, and to seek greater solidarity within the society.

2006 candidacy[edit | edit source]

The end of Rüütel's term was overshadowed by several controversies. On the Independence Day military parade on February 24, 2005, Rüütel repeatedly congratulated soldiers on 'Victory day' (Estonian Victory Day is on June 23), which caused speculation about the then 76-year-old president's mental health.[2] In January 2006, Estonian Television reported that Rüütel's underage granddaughters had organized a party in the presidential palace and drunk alcohol.[3] Later that year, the newspaper Eesti Ekspress published archived documents suggesting that Rüütel as a top functionary of the Estonian SSR was involved in the persecution of scientist Johannes Hint (later sentenced to jail in a show trial) by the KGB.[4] Rüütel himself commented that he had tried to defend Hint.[5]

As Rüütel's term was due to end in October 2006, he announced on June 7, 2006, that he would be a candidate for re-election, thus ending speculation as to his candidacy.[6] In late August, the parliament failed to elect a President. The election of Ene Ergma and Toomas Hendrik Ilves by the parliament was blocked by Rüütel's supporters, who did not take out ballots. The electoral college met to vote for a president on September 23. The latest opinion polls (September 2006) had suggested that Rüütel's popular support was around 31 per cent (Ilves' support was 51%); Rüütel was more popular amongst the elderly and the Russian-speaking minority.[7] In the electoral college, Rüütel received 162 votes against 174 for Ilves. Rüütel congratulated the winner and offered his assistance. Rüütel's presidency therefore expired at the end of his term, and Ilves took office on October 9, 2006.

Awards[edit | edit source]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Political offices
Preceded by
Johannes Käbin
Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of Estonian SSR
Succeeded by
Office abolished
Preceded by
Lennart Meri
President of Estonia
Succeeded by
Toomas Hendrik Ilves

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