- Arnold Rüütel
name = Arnold Rüütel
order = 3rd President of the Republic of Estonia
October 8, 2001
October 9, 2006
Mart Laar, Siim Kallas, Juhan Parts, Andrus Ansip
Toomas Hendrik Ilves
order2 = Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Estonia
term_start2 = March, 1990
October 8, 1992
Edgar Savisaar, Tiit Vähi
predecessor2 = "None (Estonia was occupied by the
successor2 = President
birth_date = birth date and age|1928|05|10
People's Union of Estonia
Arnold Rüütel (pronounced|ˈɑr̺nold̥ ˈr̺yːtɛl UPA: ["arnolD rüütel"] ) (born
May 10, 1928) was the President of the Republic of Estonia from October 8, 2001to October 9, 2006. He was the second President since Estonia regained its independence in 1991.
Rüütel also served as the last
Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSRfrom March 29, 1990to October 6, 1992.
During the Soviet Era
Rüütel was born on the island of
Saaremaa. He graduated from Jäneda Agricultural Collegein 1949, and worked as a senior agronomistfor the Department of Agriculture of Saaremaa (1949-1950) and as a teacher of agricultureat the Tartu School of Mechanization of Agriculturefrom 1955 to 1957.
In 1957, he was appointed as head expert in livestock and director of the experimental farm of the
Estonian Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Institute, and in 1963 he was appointed as Director of the Tartu Model Sovkhoz, a position he held until 1969. At the same time, he graduated from the Estonian Academy of Agriculturein 1964, obtaining higher education, and gained the qualification of Candidate of Agricultural Sciences in 1972.
From 1969 to 1977, Arnold Rüütel was Rector of the Estonian Academy of Agriculture. From 1977 onwards, he held high office in the
Communistinstitutions of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic. On April 8, 1983, he was appointed as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Council ( Head of State) of the Estonian SSR; thus he was also one of the 15 deputy chairmen of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.
Together with other pro-reform Communists like
Vaino Väljas, Rüütel played a major part in the preparation and composition of the Estonian declaration of sovereignty that was adopted by the Supreme Soviet on November 16, 1988.
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 in August 20, 1991. Rüütel continued in office until October 6, 1992.
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 (supported by some agrarian parties and the Estonian Coalition Party) and received 43% of the votes, eventually losing to Lennart Meri( Riigikogumembers voted for two candidates).
In 1991, Rüütel took his
Doctoratein agriculture. He served as Chairman of the People's Union of Estoniafrom 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 and lost to Meri once again.
He was elected President by an electoral college on
September 21, 2001, defeating Toomas Saviin the final round by votes of 186 to 155. Rüütel was inaugurated as President of the Republic on October 8, 2001. As Rüütel had been the candidate of the opposition (mostly consisting of Centre Party and People's Union), Savi's loss (in the last round he was supported by both Reform Party, Pro Patria Unionand the Moderates) was a great disappointment for the ruling tripartite coalition. 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. His most ambitious project was the "Ühiskondlik kokkulepe" (roughly "Social Compromise").
Rüütel's public support for joining the
European Unionwas considered instrumental in convincing people to vote "Yes" in the Estonian European Union membership referendum, 2003.
Throughout his presidential term, Rüütel enjoyed a high popular support, just like his predecessor
Lennart Meri. Rüütel's long success in politics has often been attributed to his patience and balanced character. He has been able to co-operate with politicians whose political views or histories are rather different from his own.
In January 2006, however, a scandal broke out when Estonian Television reported that Rüütel's underage granddaughters had organized a party in the presidential palace and drank alcohol. [Nikolai Adashkevich, [http://en.rian.ru/world/20060120/43093009.html "Estonia leader shocked by granddaughters' palace parties-paper"] , RIA Novosti, January 20, 2006.]
As Rüütel's term was due to end in October 2006, he announced on
June 7, 2006that he would be a candidate for re-election, thus ending speculation as to his candidacy. [ [http://www.delfi.ee/archive/article.php?id=13099491&categoryID=120&ndate=1149627600 DELFI: Rüütel kandideerib teiseks ametiajaks ] ] Rüütel's candidacy raised some concerns, as he turned 78 in May 2006, and had made some verbal 'slips' (attributed to his supposed Alzheimer's disease), such as congratulating people on 'Victory Day' while the event was actually Independence Day ( February 24, 2005) (Estonian Victory Day is on June 23). His declarations and speeches have also been regarded as hard to comprehend by the public, and many of Rüütel's appearances had to be later 'deciphered' by his Public Relations officer Eero Raun.
In late August, the parliament failed to elect a President. The election of
Toomas Hendrik Ilvesby the parliament was blocked by Rüütel's supporters, who boycotted the vote (Rüütel had said he would only stand for election if the vote was decided by the electoral college, which occurs only if the Parliament fails to elect a President) and thus prevented him from obtaining the necessary two-thirds of votes in Parliament. Rüütel was supported by the People's Union and the Centre Party. Throughout the presidential election campaign, Rüütel was criticised by both his political adversaries and political scientists for not having participated in the Riigikoguround and not taking part in debates. ( Rein Taagepera). [ [http://www.ekspress.ee/viewdoc/488DE795A14D909EC22571D90041AA80 Eesti Ekspress / Rüütel käsutas KGB Desintegraatori kallale ] ] [ [http://www.epl.ee/artikkel/351231 REIN TAAGEPERA: Meil on Ãµigus teada - Eesti PÃ¤evaleht Online ] ] His career as one of the communist-era Estonian SSR's leading functionaries was severely criticised as well. The archived documents published and commented upon in the " Eesti Ekspress" supposedly reveal that Rüütel as the deputy PM of the Estonian SSR gave instructions to KGB on how to deal with scientist Johannes Hint(later sentenced to jail in a show trial). [ [http://www.ekspress.ee/viewdoc/488DE795A14D909EC22571D90041AA80 Eesti Ekspress / Rüütel käsutas KGB Desintegraatori kallale ] ] Rüütel himself has recalled that he had tried to defend Hint. [ [http://vp2001-2006.vpk.ee/en/duties/statements.php?gid=80789 The President of the Republic of Estonia 2001-2006: Statement of the President of the Republic of Estonia on September 5, 2006 ] ]
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. [ [http://www.epl.ee/artikkel/354152 Ilves suurendas oma edumaad RÃ¼Ã¼tli ees - Eesti PÃ¤evaleht Online ] ] The declining popularity was attributed by his supporters to the alleged hostile coverage by the media.
In the third round of elections, on
September 23, 2006, 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.
Arnold Rüütel is married to
Ingrid Rüütel(born November 3, 1935), a folklorist and ethnographer. They have two daughters.
Order of the Badge of Honor" (1964)
Order of Lenin" (1971)
Order of Friendship of Peoples" (1981)
*"Maarjamaa risti ordeni kett" (2002)
*"The Great Cross of the White Eagle Order of the Polish Republic"
*"Great Cross of the Adolph de Nassau Order" (Luxembourg, 2003)
* [http://www.president.ee/en/estonia/heads.php?gid=81552 About Arnold Rüütel in "The President of the Republic of Estonia" homepage]
* [http://www.balticsww.com/ruutel.htm Biography of Arnold Rüütel]
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