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The ECP in Trouble with Provocateurs and Getting to Know its Enemy

Under the aegis of the Comintern and with financial support from Soviet Russia, the Estonian Communist Party promoted extensive illegal activity in the territory of Estonia in the 1920s. The ultimate objective of this illegal activity was to undermine Estonia’s system of government and to bring about the overthrow of the Estonian state. Estonia’s security agencies – the Defence Police and Political Police – succeeded in neutralising this activity by 1930. As a result of this, resources allotted for illegal activity in Estonia dwindled. In the situation that had emerged, a brochure was prepared at the instigation of the Estonian Communist Party, which saw provocateurs as the cause of all problems. This brochure was entitled Võitlusele provokatsiooniga [Take up the Struggle against Provocation]. This publication was illegal in Estonian territory. It branded persons who in their lifetime had been in even the slightest contact with the Defence Police or the Political Police as provocateurs. There are several hundred names of people who are considered ‘suspicious’ at the end of the publication. Due to the volume of this list, it has not been possible to check what the fate of these people was. Yet the fate of the persons named in the body of the publication’s text came into focus. Twelve individuals found among the names in the main text of Võitlusele provokatsiooniga were worked over by the NKVD. Ten of these people had to give up their lives there. Only two managed to survive that gauntlet. Arnold Pesur returned to Estonia from a Siberian prison camp in 1956. Leonhard Käär succeeded in escaping in 1945 through Poland and Germany to the USA after 10 years of NKVD imprisonment followed by 5 years of banishment. Johan Lepp (France) and Roman Laes (USA) also found refuge in the Western world. In ten cases, the fate of the so-called provocateurs could not ultimately be ascertained. Not one of them received the coveted personal pension (a special pension paid to communists for illegal communist activity) for their personal services rendered to the communists. This document that was drawn up in the brutal conditions of Stalinism followed these people like a shadow of the past after Stalin’s death as well. The fact that, among others, two members of parliament of another country, in other words Estonia, namely Valter Kaaver and Leonhard Käär, were subjected to punishment in 1930 in the Soviet Union is the height of cynicism.