Nationalities in the USSR
Communist Party's Role in Estonia's Fate Revealed
In this selection, a member of the Communist Party in Estonia articulates a new role for Communists as leaders of the movement for national self-determination within the existing structures of the Soviet Union. In addition to defining the goals in this excerpt, the remainder of this article focuses on the controversial role of Communists in collaborating in the forced incorporation of Estonia in the Soviet Union during the Stalin years. As in Lithuania and Latvia, demands for self-determination in Estonia were reinforced by Gorbachev's policy of glasnost, because historians and journalists continued exposing the falsity of traditional Soviet histories of this moment in the history of the Baltic republics.
To see the associated Teaching Module on Nationalities in the USSR, click here.
Mikk Titma, "Communist Party's Role in Estonia's Fate Viewed," Rahva Haal, August 18, 1989. Trans. Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS).
Primary Source— Excerpt
We can proceed at present only through implementing the right of the Estonian people to self-determination. The principle of the peoples' equality is an irrefutable component of international law, according to which all peoples have a right to determine their political status freely and without outside influence, and to develop their economic, social, and cultural life. Each nation, being the carrier of its own history and culture, is at the same time both a subject as well as an object of international law. Starting from the birth of each nation, the natural environment (territory) belongs to it, having been acquired for the nation with diverse material, economic, and cultural means. Ambitions on the natural environment of whatever nation are clearly unlawful. With the new principles of federalism one must also recognize juridically the ethnic diversity which actually exists. To affirm the state sovereignty of the peoples of the Soviet Union, it is necessary to adopt first and foremost the constitutions of union republics and only thereafter to look through the union contract.
How to Cite this Source
Mikk Titma, "Communist Party's Role in Estonia's Fate Revealed," Making the History of 1989, Item #388, http://chnm.gmu.edu/1989/items/show/388 (accessed February 12 2016, 4:43 am).