Imperial Russian Rules on the State of Emergency in the Estonian Republic | Pages 34-42 | PDF

Jaana Lindmets, MA
School of Law, University of Tartu, Estonia

Marju Luts-Sootak, Dr. iur., Professor
School of Law, University of Tartu, Estonia

Hesi Siimets-Gross, Dr. iur., Associate Professor
School of Law, University of Tartu, Estonia

Keywords: state of emergency, Estonian Republic 1918–1940, Imperial Russian legislation, Estonian Constitution 1920

In 1918, the Provisional Government of Estonia decided that, until new laws could be established, the legal acts of the Russian empire would continue to be valid. The rules on the state of emergency remained in force, too. At the end of November 1918, the state of emergency was declared throughout the territory of Estonia. For the entire period of its first independence, the Republic of Estonia was under some form of state of emergency either across the whole country or in certain areas. At first the state of emergency was declared using Imperial Russian norms on martial law. In 1930, the Estonian parliament adopted the State of Defence Act, which formally abolished the rules of Russian martial law. However, the Estonian Act on the State of Defence was, in essence, still largely based on the provisions of the General Act on the Governorates of the Russian Empire. The new State of Defence Act was adopted by presidential decree in 1938 and could be described as an attempt to summarise as valid law the practices that the authoritarian regime had hitherto used without legal basis.

The research and writing of this article is supported by the Estonian Research Council, grant PRG 969.