A day to never forget – Estonia celebrates its Restoration of Independence

On 20 August 1991, Estonia declared formal independence during the Soviet military coup attempt in Moscow, reconstituting the pre-1940 state; every year, 20 August is celebrated as the day of Restoration of Independence.

In the evening of 20 August 1991, Estonian politicians declared the nation’s independence – even as Soviet tanks were rolling through the countryside to quell the independence movement and the Soviet paratroopers were taking charge of the Tallinn TV tower, preparing to cut off communication channels.

The fate of Estonia was on peril. Yet, most Estonians showed great resolve in the face of this danger. Estonian volunteers surrounded the TV tower and wouldn’t let themselves to be intimidated by the Soviet troops. Members of the Estonian Defence League – the unified paramilitary armed forces of Estonia – were ready to protect the strategically important buildings, such as the parliament at Toompea and the Estonian Public Broadcasting facilities.

Luckily for Estonia, the attempted coup d’état in Moscow failed and the more liberal forces, led by the chairman of the Russian SFSR Supreme Soviet, Boris Yeltsin, prevailed – thus starting the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Estonia was free again.

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