The Communist Workers’ Group in the 1st Riigikogu (1920-1923)
In the War of Independence, Estonia’s Bolsheviks had been part of the Russian Communist (Bolshevik) Party.
The founding congress of the Estonian Communist Party on 5 November 1920 in Tallinn, and represented the formal break with the Russian organization. This did not result in substantive independence, however, as the source of instructions and funds continued to lie beyond the borders, from the members of the ECP central committee in Russia which kept contact with Comintern. The activity of most of the Bolshevik organizations was prohibited in Estonia by decree of the head of domestic security in December 1918. As the clearly expressed goal of the communists was the violent overthrow of the so-called bourgeois government, the ECP saw no reason to come out from underground. A key milestone in changing this behaviour proved to be the Second Congress of the Comintern held in Moscow in the summer of 1920, which resolved to supplant underground work with a public lobby in the interests of greater effectiveness. Thus participation in political life began to be handled through various “false fronts” – first and foremost the trade unions. In the 100-member Estonian Riigikogu elected in 1920, the communists, who had stood in the Central Council of Tallinn Trade Unions’ list, received 5 seats. These seats began to be actively used according to the guidelines for members of parliament in communist groups, issued by the Second Comintern Congress. The practical work of the communist group was led by the underground ECP central committee’s political office, which wrote most of the Bolsheviks MPs’ speeches and addresses in parliament. In April 1921, a courier for the underground contingent was arrested and the communist MPs’ covert ties to the ECP central committee and seditious activity was exposed. This was followed by trials and convictions; a number of the Bolsheviks were expelled from the parliament. The last of these occurred in December 1922 on the basis of court decision. This brought to a close the history of the Central Council of Trade Unions’ list of candidates, as several candidates had previously been convicted, some had emigrated, and some had dropped plans to be seated in the Riigikogu.