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About Lennart Meri

Lennart Meri was President of the Republic of Estonia from 1992 to 2001 and played a key role in the consolidation of the country after it regained independence from the Soviet Union.

Lennart Meri
Lennart Meri, President of the Republic of Estonia 06.10.1992-08.10.2001. Photo: Toomas Volmer / Ekspress Meedia

* 29.03.1929 in Tallinn
† 14.03.2006 in Tallinn

Lennart Meri worked as a film-maker and writer during the Soviet era, with much of his activity focussing on the central Asian republics. As a youngster, he was deported to Siberia following the 1940 Soviet occupation, where his interest was piqued in another of his noted specialities, Uralic languages.

From the late 1970s, Lennart Meri was able to travel outside of the Soviet Union/Warsaw Pact countries, and took the opportunity to keep Estonia’s existence in the international consciousness. A founder member of the Popular Front in 1988, a major force in the drive towards Estonian restoration of independence, which became a fact in 1991, Lennart Meri was elected President in 1992 by the Riigikogu, Parliament of Estonia.

His presidential career was characterised by some near-legendary incidents and choice quotes.