All-Estonian Freedom Party

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The All-Estonian Freedom Party (Estonian: Kogu Eesti Vabaduspartei, KEVP) was a far-right political party that existed during the Estonian military regime from 1966 to 1980. During the dictatorship, it was the sole legal party, with all legal political activity outside the KEVP taking place through independent candidates. KEVP's ideology morphed over time from urging national unity in the face of the supposed communist subversion of deposed president Gross to what has been described by scholars as a "semi-fascist strain of thought urging the destruction of communism and Russian identity wherever they are found." Most scholars attribute this drift of thought to the Riipalu administration, which was led by many veterans of the Larka Division, while Alfons Rebane had not served there.

Formation[edit | edit source]

Following the 1966 coup, it was clear that the military regime was not leaving after only a few years, despite official claims. Nearly a month after the coup, on the 19th of June in 1966, the KEVP was formed, in what was described as the "first step towards civilian governance." KEVP's formation was approved by the Rahvuskogu and President Rebane. Applications for other political parties were formally opened, but no petition could cross the threshold to approve its formation in the Rahvuskogu - 75% of the entire Rahvuskogu. The first party to apply for approval was the DVL, but when the vote to approve their legality was on the agenda, less than 55% of the members of the Rahvuskogu were present. Those present voted overwhelmingly in opposition to the proposal. News of this action lit the fuse to the DVL protests that took place a few months later and lasted until the spring of 1967. Other parties such as the "Workers Solidarity Movement" were simply refused. Left with only the KEVP to join, willing opposition figures attempted to subvert the system as independent politicians, creating informal associations on a local level. These informal associations were discouraged by the military regime and charges of corruption were brought upon some independent politicians for accused association with the DVL, which was proscribed as a terrorist organization in 1968.

Ideology[edit | edit source]

KEVP's ideology often hinged on who was the President.

Under Rebane[edit | edit source]

During Rebane's regime, KEVP was a conservative force, exalting family values and rural life. KEVP viewed itself as a transitional body uniting Estonian society. During this time, KEVP had foreign supporters among conservative circles. Dissent, while not widespread, did exist and it was expected that former members of the SDE would join the KEVP. Rebane himself stated that KEVP "has no real ideology other than the survival of Estonia." Despite this, KEVP clearly had authoritarian tendencies, such as arguing for the destruction of opponents such as the DVL and continued military rule until the "fullness of time."

Artur Sirk's death in 1971 had a major effect on the KEVP, as it opened the door for far-right intellectuals to opine on how the education system should treat the modern history of Estonia. Following a propaganda campaign consisting of a documentary on Sirk and the state funeral of Artur Sirk, KEVP was observed as taking a more far-right turn.

Under Riipalu[edit | edit source]

After the death of Alfons Rebane and the rise of Harald Riipalu in 1976, KEVP clearly took a more nationalist turn. Riipalu's government constantly attacked the supposed "Marxist infiltration" of Estonia. KEVP's ranks were wiped clean of dissidents in 1977, in what became known as the Summer Putsch. While criticism of the USSR focused on the ideology of communism during Rebane's regime, under Riipalu it took an ethnic undertone as the Russian language was attacked and in some cases, banned. The only places where the Russian language was not persecuted were veterans' societies of UoBV members.

After the Summer Putsch, however, LMKE and its platform was formed out of both KEVP and independent politicians. LMKE urged for faster democratization and opening up to a free market. The government tolerated the existence of LMKE and its proposals due to the supposed "transitional" nature of the KEVP. After the New Year's Massacre, however, LMKE's proposals drew ire from KEVP as the members of the PL who had revolted against the regime were found to possess literature in support of LMKE. This ire did not manage to materialize, however, as the 1980 coup was taking shape.

Under Einseln[edit | edit source]

During the period of the "Almost-War", a second KEVP was formed under Einseln that Einseln formally joined. This KEVP was short-lived and is colloquially known as "Einseln's Party."

Under Democracy[edit | edit source]

Einseln's KEVP re-merged with the rest of the KEVP following the end of Riipalu's regime, but the KEVP was dealt a lethal blow in the form of democratization. In the period following the formation of the Government of National Unity, Einseln left the party. The formation of the PLP saw a major amount of parliamentarians leave the KEVP, with each founding of a new party leading to more members leaving the KEVP. In an attempt to save the KEVP, a congress was called in 1980, but it failed to save the party as rural members of the KEVP who failed to identify with any other party decided to abandon the party altogether and formed the Rural Party. After this, the rest of the members decided to leave aswell and formed the Centre Party. Faced with an empty party, the remaining members being far-right ideologues, the KEVP decided to rebrand into the ÜEP.

Legacy[edit | edit source]

The effective dissolution of the KEVP was seen as a major step in the process of democratization, even though the party had only formally changed its name and symbology. The rebranding of the KEVP into the ÜEP was seen as having given the entire military dictatorship a more far-right character, as views taken by the ÜEP (such as Estonian Eurasianism), have been inappropriately attributed to KEVP, despite being introduced by the ÜEP.

Akin to how leftists are often attacked as "Marxist agents" in the Estonian political scene, so are rightists often associated with the KEVP, especially members of ÜPP, ME or KE.