Estonian heads of state since 1918 and the legal grounds of their activities.

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Arnold Rüütel

* 10.05.1928 in Saaremaa


President of the Republic
08.10.2001-09.10.2006


The President of the Republic of Estonia 2001-2006


Arnold Rüütel was born on 10 May 1928 in Saaremaa, Estonia.

After graduating from Jäneda Agricultural College, in the years 1949-1950, he worked as a senior agronomist at the department of agriculture of Saaremaa's then administration. Between 1955 and 1957, Arnold Rüütel was a teacher at Tartu School of Mechanization of Agriculture.

In 1957 he became head livestock expert and later on director of an experimental farm of the Estonian Institute for Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Science. From 1963 to 1969 he worked as director of the Tartu Model State Farm and, besides working, graduated from the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences of the Estonian Agricultural Academy in 1964.

In 1969 Arnold Rüütel was elected rector of the Estonian Agricultural Academy, in which post he, in addition to fulfilling the everyday responsibilities of the leader of the academy, was actively engaged in scientific research.

Since 1977 Arnold Rüütel has held several high state positions, first in the political sphere, later on in the executive and legislative organs of power. In 1983 he was elected Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSR.

Arnold Rüütel played an important role in the preparation of the Estonian sovereignty declaration and its adoption on 16 November 1988, which laid the basis for the disintegration of the USSR. Arnold Rüütel gained in the world a reputation as a defender of Estonia's sovereignty in conflict with the central authorities in Moscow.

In March 1990, the people of Estonia elected Arnold Rüütel to the Supreme Council of the Republic of Estonia and thereafter, in the council's first session, he was elected Chairman of the Supreme Council. Rüütel supported actively the adoption of the resolution "About Estonia's National Status" by the then highest legitimate power in Estonia. In this resolution, it was declared that the state power of the USSR in Estonia was illegal from the very first moment of its enforcement, and a transitional period for the restoration of the Republic of Estonia was declared. Arnold Rüütel was the Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Estonia until October 1992.

On 12 May 1990, initiated by Arnold Rüütel, the Council of the Baltic States was established in Tallinn, which, from the point of view of the struggle for independence, played an important role in the formation of a united front of the Baltic States. On 20 August 1991 the Supreme Council of the Republic of Estonia adopted a resolution on Estonia's national independence and, on 17 September 1991, the Republic of Estonia became a full member of the United Nations Organization. The intense but bloodless struggle for the independence of Estonia had been successful. During these years Arnold Rüütel was the Head of State of Estonia and played an important role in uniting the people and political forces in the struggle for a common cause.

In parallel to leading the state, Arnold Rüütel continued his scientific research and, in 1991, took his doctorate in agriculture. He is Honorary Doctor of Bentley College, USA, Emeritus Professor at the Estonian Agricultural University, Honorary Doctor of the University of Helsinki, Foreign Member of the Ukrainian Academy of Agrarian Sciences, Honorary Doctor of the II University of Naples, Honorary Doctor of the Szent Istvan University of Hungary, and Honorary Doctor of the L. N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University of Kazakhstan. He has published more than one hundred scientific works both in Estonia and abroad. In 1991 Arnold Rüütel delivered a speech in the UN General Assembly as the Head of State of Estonia. In 1992 he gave a speech at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. This conference laid the basis for a new stage in global nature conservation.

Between 1991 and 1992 Arnold Rüütel was a member of the Constitutional Assembly drafting the new Constitution of the Republic of Estonia; in 1992 he was a candidate for the presidency of the Republic of Estonia and received 43 % of the people's votes. In 1995, receiving a record number of votes, he was elected to the Riigikogu (the Parliament of Estonia) and, thereafter, Vice-Chairman of the Riigikogu. From 1994 to 2000 Arnold Rüütel was chairman of the centre-right Estonian Rural People's Party, one of the largest among Estonian political parties. Since 1999 the Party's name has been Estonian People's Union.

In 1995 Arnold Rüütel was elected head of the delegation of Riigikogu to the Baltic Assembly and then, alternately up to 1999, Chairman of the Presidium of the Baltic Assembly.

Apart from his work, Arnold Rüütel is also known for his active participation in public life. From 1981 to 1988, he was Chairman of the Estonian Society for Nature Conservation advocating preservation of nature and, 1989-2002, Chairman of the Forselius Society promoting educational life. In 1993 Arnold Rüütel became the founder of the non-governmental Institute for National Development and Cooperation, the aim of which is to examine the main development factors in Estonia. In 1993 he became President of the Estonian National Organisation of the Green Cross International. The main concern of this organization has been the purification of the pollution caused by the Soviet army and its consequences on the territory of Estonia, and to keep Estonia tidy and nature-friendly for the coming generations. In the same year Arnold Rüütel became Chairman of the movement "Protect the Estonian Sea". This organization takes care of the Estonian coastline of 3,5 thousand kilometres and is committed to the restoration and establishment of small harbours.

Ingrid Rüütel, Arnold Rüütel's wife, is a Doctor of Humanities, an internationally known specialist in folklore, President of the folklore association Baltica. They have two daughters and six grandchildren.

Elected by an electoral college on 21 September 2001, Arnold Rüütel was inaugurated as the President of the Republic of Estonia on 8 October 2001.