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På engelska (In English):
About underground opposition in Estonia – the Estonian Democratic Movement
Great lies and great terror
The repressive policies of Soviet occupation regime in Estonia and their consequences


About underground opposition in Estonia – the Estonian Democratic Movement

Communism and national-socialism or Nazism may be considered as twin brothers. They have much more common features than differences. But yet they have one noticeable difference – Nazism was openly criminal, there was no freedom or democracy in real life nor on the paper. On the contrary the communism was extremely deceitful and hypocritical. The real life generally resembled to that during Nazism, but on paper everything looked like magnicifent, all liberties were granted by the constitution.

So that the Nazy ideology may be compared with a poison, which is labelled „Poison“, but the Communist ideology may be compared with poison, which is labelled „Medicine“. Therefore the Communist ideology is among those people, who have no experience with it, more popular than the Nazy ideololgy. But this difference is also the heel of Achilleus of the Communist ideology.

Communism is popular mainly in those countries, where the population has been for a long time isolated from outside world and has not seen or heard anything except communist propaganda, such as Russia. In those countries, where the people have during the comparatively short period overlived several different systems of government and has had contacts with outside world, such as the Baltic states, the Communism was much less popular.

Liberal ideas spreaded also among the occupational troops, which were brought into these countries. Several underground groupings emerged, the aim of which was the attainment of liberty. . Formerly the underground groupings in Estonia were created by Estonians and were comparatively isolated in their activities. But in 1969 a Russian from Narva Sergei Soldatov (1933-2003), Artem Yuskevitsh (1931-1982) from west-Ukraine and Oleg-Heldur Tyutryumov (1921-1984) founded in Tallinn an underground organisation „Democratic Movement of the Soviet Union (DMSU)“. Their aim was to coordinate and excite the anti-Soviet fight for freedom inside the whole Soviet Union. Via personal contacts the democratic ideas spread also among the armed forces. In training center for the submarine crews in Paldiski was created the underground organisation „The League of Fighters for Political Freedom“. The ideologist of this organisation was the naval officer Gennadi Gavrilov. The spreading of the opposition ideas was a real danger for the ruling elite.

Cognition, that among the non-Estonians occur active oppositionists, who are fighting for freedom, added eagerness also to Estonians. In autumn 1971 I met my former classmate Arvo Varato, who acquainted me with several active oppositionists. He proposed me to compile the program of the Estonian National Front, which I also did. The final version we accepted three together. The third one was Artem Yuskevitsh, who was one of the founders of the DMSU. In the program was made proposal to carry out the referendum in order to determine the system of governemt in Estonia. A lot of adhernts were not satisfied with the program. From their point of view it was too short, and they also did not agree with the idea of referendum. They claimed, that if we want to carry out referendum, then we do not acknowledge the Republic of Estonia, whis had been founded in 1918. I thought, that if we will demand independence, then the rulers of Kremlin will say, that we had entered the USSR according to the will of the people. It would have been more difficult to make an objection against the idea of referendum. Twenty yeas later the referendum was carried out in order to grant the Kremlin rulers the possibility to give reasons to motivate the leaving of Baltic nations from the brotherly family of the Soviet nations and to grant the possibility to Kremlin to get rid of dangerous dissidents.

We began to compile the program of the Estonian Democratic Movement (EDM). The nine persons were involved, everybody was engaged in a certain domain. Only in adoption of the final version all nine were together. The main initiator was Artem Yuskevitsh, who was also one of the founders of the DMSU. When the program was finished, it was straightaway translated into Russian and delivered to Russia. The same was done with various different documents.

One of the founders of the DMSU proposed the idea to comply a memorandum, which will be addressed to the General Assembly of the United Nations Organisation. Tunne Kelam met his adherents in several places and wrote the final text in English. The accompanying letter, which was addressed to the then General Secretary of the UNO Kurt Waldheim, was also compiled. We did not sign the documents. With help of Mati Kiirend the stamps were made. At first the people in West were afraid, that all this may be the provocation of the KGB. The UNO is a rather pointless talkshow, and I am sure, that nobody of us had any hopes connected to the UNO. At the same time the propagandistic effect was quite noticeable, especially for the Estonians abroad.

We attempted to cooperate with Latvians and Lithuanians, but wihtout any success. In those days unquestionably the business could be managed only using personal acquaintances. The people, with whom we got contact, had the same worldview as we, but they were not ready to do something more. Our adherents, who had passed the GULAG and had met there active oppositionists, were more successful. In 1979 in the home of Niklus family in Tartu the Baltic Appeal was compiled. This document had been signed by 45 persons, most of them were Lithuanians. Among receiptors were four Estonians: Mart Niklus, Endel Ratas, Enn Tarto and Erik Udam. Based on this document the European Council adopted in 1983 the resolution to send the issue of the Baltic states to the Decolonisation Committee of the UNO. So that even then the international organisation needed more than three years to start action!

The communist dictatorship considered whatever deliverance, which was not in harmony with the concurrent official point of view as extremely dangerous. In the Criminal Code murder and robbery were in the chapter „Dangerous Crimes“, anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda was in the chapter „Extremely Dangerous State Crimes“. In the same chapter were also espionage and sabotage. In the dossier, which was compiled by the KGB, there was sayd: „In Moscow and Leningrad had been disseminated documents „Russian Colonialism in Estonia“ and „Program of the Estonian Democratic Movement“. Taking into account the extreme danger of such activities for the society, the KGB initiated criminal case“.

The organisers of the EDM were arrested in December 1974, but we had been under high attentiveness of the state security for a long time before it. I lived in Tallinn outskirts Nõmme in a small house and I noticed several time, that a passenger car is on the street near the house and two men are sitting inside. Sometimes the telephone rang, but when I took the earpiece, there was no response from the other side. In those days I thought, that the equipment is malfunctioning, but later I supposed, that the KGB was checking, is somebody at home or they have the possibility to come and make an unofficial search.

During the official search in 13 December 1974 it was clear, that the KGB men were there not the first time. Some papers, including three copies of the Memorandum, which was addressed to the General Assembly of the UNO, were in an office-binder inside the double wooden wall inside the sawdust. The KGB captain Uno Ojamaa, who guided the search, clambered upon the pile of firewood and took these papers out. It was clear, that he knew, where these papers are. One could suppose, that somewhere inside this wall is something more, but he did not search anywhere else. After all it became clear, that he knew, that there is nothing more. The manuscript of the program of the ENF was in the carton for photographic plates. The carton had earlier been in hideout, but once, when I brought something from the hideout, I had left it in my room. I had forgotten, that the program is in this carton. The KGB man opened the carton, took the photographic plates out and then took the program out.. When the search, which had lasted 14 hours, had ended, then the record of search was compiled and then I was delivered to the Vaksali street to the cell of detention. There I had some chat with the cellmate and then we fell asleep. Soon I was roused end delivered to the local KGB headquarter on the Pagari street. There the prosecutor of extremely siginificant cases major Zhukov was waiting for me. On the table before him was one of the copies of the memorandum. He asked me: „Wherefrom you have got it?“ I sayd that I refuse to answer. Thereupon I was delivered back to the cell on the Vaksali street and next day I was delivered to the „Patarei“ prison (the building of the former coastguard battery). Evidently the KGB expected, that we will tell, who is the author of the memorandum. They got a big disappointment. We were able to keep secrets. Soldatov knew certainly, who is the author, because he translated the text into Russian. Once, when I visited Yuskevitsh, he told me: „That way you were also involved in compiling the memorandum“. And added with friendly smile: „The great conspirator“. Of course I was a great conspirator, when I did not tell even to my best friend, that I am also involved in compiling the memorandum.. He himself was the similar conspirator. He wrote the Russian-language book „Russian Colonialism and the National Question“. He told me, that he is translating the book from Ukrainian. In GULAG I asked Ukrainians, does anybody of them know anything about such book. Nobody knew. After restoration of Estonia´s independence I read from the book, written by S. Soldatov, that Yuskevitsh himself was the author of „Russian Colonialism“. Due to such conspiracy, when everybody knew only this, what was necessary for his activities, most people involved in underground activities, escaped with minor fright.

In October 1975 there was a trial on the Supreme Court of the ESSR. K. Mätik and S. Soldatov were sent for six years, A. Yuskevitsh and M. Kiirend for five years into GULAG (strict regime labour camps for political prisoners).

On November 12 1975 the secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Estonia J. Käbin sent a letter to the Central Committee of the CPSU, where by the way was sayd: „A group of individuals, who under the influence of foreign radiobroadcasts and being acquanted with the bourgeoise-nationalist and anti-Soviet publications set themselves on hostile, anti-Soviet activities /.../ On the basis of the results of the aforementioned trial the Central Committee of the CPE sent information to the city and district committees of the party, whereby the party active will be acquainted. Besides the measures will be put into practice for boosting of watchfulness and strengthening the political education among the population of the Republic“.

As a result of many different actions the independence has been formally restored. The signboards have been replaced, although the content remained generally unrepealed. According to the post-communist political mythology we set ourselves free by means of singing. If we really had set ourselves free simply by means of singing, then one can ask, why we did not get free already in 1869, when the first all-Estonian song festival took place. Singing was undoubtedly also necessary, but by this time, when various massive actions, such as „Singing revolution“ and Baltic Way took place, our independence had payd long ago by the blood, spilled by our warriors and forest brethren and the GULAG sentences of our oppositionists. It was necessary only to write out the cash cheque.

Although the information blockade during Soviet rule was rather profound, the people nevertheless knew something. In summer 1951, after educating the secondary school, I spent approximately two weeks in the Aviation Technical School in Kasan. I saw Russia first time with my own eyes and got more acquainted with the way of thinking of the Soviet people. We went there eight and seven of us returned. During examinations we lived in tents and then could see and hear the Soviet people. One young man from Russia told another one that he planned to enter the KGB school. The other one dissuaded the idea, saying: „It is not a good idea. They may send you to Lithuania. There the war is going on“. So that the armed fight did not bring freedom to us at once, but it made a contribution, that we ultimately became free. All actions, whose aim was to restore Estonia´s independence, made their contributions.

Author Kalju Mätik

About the author. K. Mätik was born 16 September 1932. He took part in the activities of the underground groups Estonian National Front and Estonian Democratic Movement. One of the founders of the Estonian National Independence Party (1988). Political prisoner 1974-1980.