On Saturday, 8 April, celebrations will be held in Saint Petersburg to mark the passing of 100 years from the demonstration of Estonians in support of autonomy.

Urmas Viilma, the Archbishop of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, will lead the religious ceremony to give thanks and the Estonian National Male Choir will give a concert.

“The large demonstration of Estonians held in Petrograd 100 years ago was a significant step on the road of Estonian autonomy, as it “helped” the Russian Provisional Government make a quick decision, which in addition to joining Estonian lands into an autonomous governorate, also led to the provision of extensive autonomy to Estonia and the convening of the provincial assembly Maapäev,” said Margus Kasterpalu, Head of Major Events of Estonia 100.

Urmas Viilma, the Archbishop of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, noted that the St. John's Church in Saint Petersburg holds symbolic value in the context of Estonian independence, creates an output for Estonian culture in the Russian culture metropolis and the conditions necessary for serving the Estonian Lutheran diaspora in Saint Petersburg. “I wish that the St. John’s Church in Saint Petersburg would remain a place where local Estonians and others can experience great Estonian culture and the Protestant-Christian values of the world!” added Viilma.

The 100th anniversary of the demonstration of Estonians will be celebrated with local Estonians at the St. John's Church in Saint Petersburg. A memorial plaque will be unveiled at the church to honour the demonstration held a 100 years ago; an exhibition, which was compiled by the Fund of St. John's Church in Saint Petersburg, and which focuses on the links between those events and the St. John’s Church will also be opened. Urmas Viilma will lead the religious service, after which the Prime Minister of Estonia Jüri Ratas will give a speech and the Consul General of Estonia in St. Petersburg Jaanus Kirikmäe will also greet those present with welcoming words. The Estonian National Male Choir (conductor Mikk Üleoja) will perform a concert titled “Holy Place” (“Püha paik”), which focuses on the creation of Estonian composers (e.g. Cyrillus Kreek, Mart Saar, Artur Kapp, Rudolf Tobias) who are associated with Saint Petersburg.

8 April 2017 marks the passing of 100 years from the day on which 40,000 Estonians gathered in Petrograd to take part in a demonstration that demanded self-governing autonomy for Estonia. Estonians started the demonstration at the St. John’s Church and headed towards the Tauride Palace, which housed the Russian Provisional Government. Four days after the demonstration, on 12.04.1917, the Russian Provisional Government issued an order on the provisional autonomy of Estonia. The northern part of the Governorate of Livonia was united with the Governorate of Estonia and the Autonomous Governorate of Estonia was formed. The opening event of Estonia 100, which will be held on 16 April, is an extensive hike on the former governorate border from the shores of Lake Peipus to the coast of the Baltic Sea.

More information:
Merje Klopets
Communications expert
Organising Committee of Estonia 100