5th Stupa in Estonia built by Vello Väärtnõu in 2008
Organizing Chair for International Conferences Buddhism & Australia, Perth Australia This article introduces how Vello Väärtnõu, a Buddhist leader from Estonia, came up with a proposal to create the first opposition party in the history of the Soviet Union, the Estonian National Independence Party, which acted as a catalyst for the disintegration of the Soviet Union and spoiled communists perestroika plan to keep their empire. The article includes an interview with Vello Väärtnõu and some comments from historians, politicians and journalists. I.INTRODUCTION
Friday, 21 February 2020 19:00
Estonian Life No. 7 2020 - Marju Broder
In January 1988, the world was hit by the launch of the Estonian National Independence Party, the first political opposition party in the history of the Soviet Union, which aimed to restore a free and independent Estonia by working as an opposition party against Communist Party. The idea of the proposal came from the head of the Estonian Buddhist Brotherhood, Vello Väärtnõu, who made this announcement at a press conference in Moscow. This news was broadcast all over the world, for example on 10.02.1988 Philip Taubman wrote in The NY Times about the proposal of 14 citizens to create the first political opposition party and mentions that this news has boosted Estonians' national feelings and alarmed ruling authorities.
It has been 30 years when being forward-looking and ahead of time,Vello Väärtnõu and handful of Buddhists opened the door to freedom and independence in Estonia, so there is enough distance to evaluate this event. It is time to investigate who is a Buddhist Vello Väärtnõu, and why and how he came up with a proposal to create an ENIP that initiated the breakdown of the Soviet Union. Not much has been published about this event and Väärtnõu has not commented this until today, so it will be the first time when he agreed to elaborate his ideas. A. Soviet Estonia in the 80s
In 1944-1990, the only allowed "honor, common sense and conscience" in the Soviet Union was the Communist Party and in Estonia ruled its local branch, the Communist Party of Estonia.The power of this party was based on extensive militia and KGB apparatus, fully subordinated media, Plan Committee and, of course, the Soviet occupation army. Party and all life in Estonia was leaded by a 135-members of Central Committee. The dissidents in Estonia were mainly engaged in writing various petitions and letters to abroad but these actions did not reach up to actual politics. In August 1987, the Deer Park meeting was held which demanded the disclosure of the MRP Pact and asked permission to the erect a statue for the deportees. Obviously, the goals of dissidents were totally different from Väärtnõu`s proposal to create a political party with the aim to take power from communists and achieve Estonia's independence. The party is always created with the aim to take power. B. A man is the sum of his actions
Vello Väärtnõu`s actions describe him as a person with unusual capabilities and knowledge in many areas. His activities are usually characterized using such expressions as ‘the first one’, ‘the only one’, founder’, leader’ etc. When talking about the Estonian-born and now Swedish citizen Vello Väärtnõu, one must keep in mind that the starting point for all his actions has always been based on the principles of Buddhism and that he has never let society or the ruling regime dictate his way.
Vello Väärtnõu was born in 1951 in Saaremaa, Estonia. In his youth, he was very active in sports, learned to play chess at early age and likes to play chess until today. When he was 17 years old, he tried to escape from the Soviet Union to India to study Buddhism because there was no Buddhism in Estonia. He was caught at the border and sentenced to three years to North Siberia in prison camp and when he was released, he was 20 years old. This attempt ended with a lifetime of KGB interest in him.
Coming back, Väärtnõu studied etching in Estonian Art Academy and was an acknowledged artist and well known figure in cultural circles being the only one in the socialist Estonia of 1970 who publicly called himself a Buddhist. Already then all his readings and activities were directly connected with Buddhism. Parallel to the interest in Buddhist and Taoist philosophy rose an interest in Chinese art. In these times a developing interest in Senge Dongma cult and practices could be noticed in Väärtnõu`s field of studies, which was followed by interest in the biography and person of the poet and Taoist 6th Dalai Lama.
Väärtnõu studied years in Ivolga monastery, Buriatya, philosophy, logic, rituals, plus thangka painting and architecture with numerous older generation lamas, his favorites being Nagarjuna, Vasubandhu, Asanga, Dharmakirti and of course (Golden) Yogacara as Väärtnõu calls it, and on which basis he later developed his own art theory ‘Art as Yogacara’. Under socialism, it was forbidden by law to build cult objects and translating and copying texts was very risky business. The same was true of practicing Buddhism. Despite of circumstances, Väärtnõu established the first Estonian Buddhist Brotherhood and Nyingma movement in 1983 in Tallinn. Under his guidance four stupas were built in Western Estonia between 1983 and 1985, constituting the first Northern stupas into Estonian intellectual landscape. Väärtnõu translated and published Buddhist literature, created first Estonian thangkas and mastered Buddha statues, and carried out the first Buddhist rituals. His handmade books (samizdat), were the only sources available to most Estonians who were interested in Buddhism. He is also the author of the first Estonian language schoolbook for the study of Tibetan language.
Brotherhood (also known as Taola) members were outlaws in the communist-lead occupation of Estonia, since officially no one recognized Taola. On the other hand, the constant presence of KGB cars in front of the house and other surveillance by the authorities hinted that the official system was keenly following every step and word made by Taola. At the time of the creation of the ENIP, Väärtnõu was helped by the members of the Brotherhood - they were the only ones who printed, copied and disseminated leaflets and did other revolutionary things. C. It is time to create our own party
In 1987, Vello Väärtnõu, came up with the idea and programme of the Estonian National Independence Party(ENIP) at the gathering in Pärnu. He said openly that it is a necessity to create our own party and take power from communists. His talk in this meeting in Pärnu was held incomprehensible and provocative, because no one dared even to think about taking power from communists.
On the 30 January 1988, Väärtnõu organised a press conference in Moscow for accredited foreign newspapers and made a public announcement of the establishment of an opposition party with the aim of restoring a free and independent Estonia. The New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and many other newspapers were present, as well as US TV company ABC. Not a word was published in the local press. However, the news spread like a wildfire among the public.
Authorities confusion following the publication of the proposal showed how well-done the move was. In a vague situation, the authorities could not take a clearer position for a long time, only in mid-February an ideological opposition to the press was given.
The Brotherhood’s house was under constant surveillance by the KGB, the Buddhist library was “cleaned” on several occasions, most of Väärtnõu` art pieces were taken away and the militia was used against Taola. As result, Väärtnõu was expelled from the Soviet Union by personal directive of Gorbatchon on the 10th of February 1988. He became a Swedish permanent in 10 minutes in Moscow without ever stepping on Swedish soil.
30 years later Dag Hartelius, a Swedish diplomat, commented in newspaper these events saying that the Estonians used so intelligently the USSR's own instruments against the USSR.
KGB killed some of the members of Taola – Tiina Hallik and Enn Jaanson. Unfortunately the first victims of new independent Estonia were Nyingma Buddhists in the ranks of Estonian Buddhist Brotherhood.
Vello Väärtnõu: ” I have never cared about public or mass opinion. Already from early age, I was asked - what is your opinion, and I was explained what means personal point of view, and that every man must have his own personal opinion. I have to say that unlike in Estonia, I am considered a hero in Russia (by ordinary people and dissidents) and abroad.
This proposal was my private business, in which I indirectly involved dissidents. Since dissidents had no plan or idea to take political power from the communists, i.e.to regain independence, I gave the masses an idea by bringing a ready-made program to dissidents with a plan to take power. In a word, I did a project that I carried out - the Proposal for ENIP, the program and the execution are my job. These 14 people who signed the Proposal must be considered heroes, because there was a deep Soviet time then, but they dared to sign it openly.
People exchange views in the economy, in life, in politics, in religions. I'm the same poor wandering monk as before. I don't care about the things I have done, but what I'm going to do. The most important thing is always the idea, the construction is built around it, and then people are need to implement it. These dozen people who signed the Proposal, had to be active team in dealing with it.
When the Deer Park was held and MRP AEG said it was necessary to disclose the MRP pact, I thought why they wanted to force the government to disclose the secret pact because it was not a political step? It was an attempt by timid people to ask the authorities to recognize the existence of this pact. It does nothing. I found that the MRP AEG group is not capable to implement independence. I made a party myself and made it public in Moscow because nobody knew or dared to do it.
I would put up Patarei prison again and put the Communists in there for serving and collaborating with the occupants. They were the golden elite of the Soviets then and are the same now. Estonian people have a memory of pike, it strikes me. I wouldn't have put Arnold Ryytel, who speaks Russian with mistakes and doesn't speak English at all, back to presidential chair. But apparently his IQ is higher than the average Estonian.
There is no political memory or thinking in Estonia either for the government or for the people. The only one who was able to come together after the Proposal for ENIP was the Communist Party. I was silent and waited 30 years to see what was happening with ENIP, and it went as always. The Estonian people had adhered to the communists.” E. Genes affect more than Soviet education
Väärtnõu:”When I was a little boy, I was told that by legal continuity I am also a citizen of the first Republic of Estonia and that the citizen's oath extends to me as well. About the fact that my parents and grandparents were honest and decent Estonian citizens, I was informed by the KGB investigator Movtshan, who said that I grew up in an anti- Soviet family, and I am a product of my family, and that genes affect me more than Soviet education and propaganda.
In 1987, after the Deer Park gathering I decided to start a political opposition party The Christian church lived with the KGB and therefore the Buddhists were the cleanest boys to do it. If I had just done a party somewhere behind the corner, I would just have been shut down. But I took into account that the Soviet leaders were afraid of the Western press, that perestroika was going on and Western society's opinion was very important for Moscow. So I decided to make a press conference for foreign journalists.
In September 1987, I wrote a program how the Estonian Republic would work on the principle of free trade, and which also included points on the Communists - not to let them into politics and the top communists should be to punished for their collaboration with the occupying powers.” F. My idea was to be an East-West mediator
Väärtnõu continues: My ideas was to be an East-West mediator but as we see, Estonians couldn't do it. The rich neighbor must still be exploited. I told about this idea to Eve Pärnaste at that time, but she screamed - in no way. My actions forced Russia to offside politically because all Western society had already formed a position on Russia, and Estonia would have had a very good opportunity to mediate trade and administration between Russia and the West at national and government level. With this, Estonia would have earned a lot of capital to develop its statehood. Estonia would have had a favorable opportunity for that.
I know that it would have been a difficult solution for Estonians. But economically thousands times more useful. Because no food is bought for freedom, but for money. As economic chaos in Russia prevailed, Estonia would have benefited from mediation assistance organized at the governmental level. I was thinking about the economy when all the people were yelling about freedom. I would have been a friend with Russia because he always remains our neighbor. When the dissidents made the Deer Park meeting, I thought they were just gawky and naive.
My idea (ENIP) was political and came for Moscow as a lightning from the sky, Moscow was not ready for that.” G. 14 people wanted an independent Estonia
Väärtnõu: “In 1987, when I had a program ready, I went to Eve Pärnaste who was a secretary of the Buddhist Brotherhood at that time, and said , we are going to do the political party. The same evening we went to Erik Udam and I told Udam that it is necessary to do a party - on which Erik lighted a cigaret, the thing he hadn't done for 20 years.
I explained to Erik that it is necessary to declare independence and the Republic of Estonia because the Soviet Union is economically broke because it has been buying crop for gold already four years ( this fact made Andropov to hospital at that time). It was the best factor we could have. Declaring independence would spoil Moscow plan which aimed to apply new economic policy (‘perestroika’) but certainly intended to keep together the soviet empire.
I started looking for people to form an active group that will deal with proposal. As Eve Pärnaste was a convinced Buddhist at that time, and was also a secretary of the Buddhist Brotherhood, she run the party activities as secretary. At the time I was in Estonia, Pärnaste did what I told him. After my expulsion, Pärnaste started to act according to the understanding of dissidents. Because dissidents were not very sharp in politics, they were only able to make the party half a year later.
I traveled around Estonia and was looking for people to support the proposal. Most people refused to sign the proposal, including all these communists who nowadays proclaim that they also fought for the Republic of Estonia.
In total, I found 14 people who wanted the Republic of Estonia. There were about 1.5 million inhabitants in Estonia and there were no more people who would have wanted an independent republic.
Lagle Parek (later chairman of ENIP ) whom I turned to, said- no way I would sign the petition, and added that I would kill the Estonian people with it. Viktor Niitsoo ( ENIP member from August 1988) told me that he will not sign such a suspicious thing and will not participate in such a provocative event.
So, MRP -AEG group and Proposal for ENIP were completely separate things. No one of MRP AEG dissidents dared to travel to Moscow with me as I offered. During that period, my secretary Eve Parnaste was a Buddhist, now she has changed to Christianity. Religious principles changed, also political views changed, this is religious and political prostitution. She left ENIP in 1993, joined with Reform Party which consists of ex-communists, and recently with CPPE”H. At that time, nobody just made a press conference
All were strictly regulated and guarded, and the offices of the Western press were only present in the capital of the Soviet Union. It was ironic that, apart from a few collections of self-publishing, the Väärtnõu would not have other place than Moscow to announce independence and ENIP.
Väärtnõu: “ We went with Arvi Orula to Leningrad to meet one person who was helping in organizing of a press conference in Moscow, thanks to the help of a spokesman for the US Embassy in Moscow. We went to Leningrad, and we were followed by the KGB. In order to get rid of them, we drove by car around Leningrad and then I jumped out of the car on a ride and rolled into the snowdrift next to the road. There were two KGB machines rushing up, without noticing that there was only one person in the car because it was too dark. I went to talk with my contact person and the date, time and place of the press conference were agreed. But Eve Pärnaste wrote later that it was Eke Pärt Nomm.
But only myself and my friend and Buddhist Enn Jaanson knew about the details of the press conference. With Enn I had agreed that he will go separately, before us to Moscow with all the necessary documents and papers (copies).
Apart from two of us, nobody knew this back-up option. It was agreed that if I had been arrested, Enn would conduct a press conference himself because Enn was able to speak English. We had a meeting point at Mayakovsky Square and we had agreed to see each other three times on Mayakovsky Square and wave. First, when I arrive in Moscow and drive via Mayakovsky Square. Second, if I am already going to a press conference. Third, when I drive away after the press conference. That is exactly what happened.
After my expulsion in February 1988, Enn Jaanson was killed one month later by the KGB. He was poisoned.” I. Three people to Moscow with declaration in hand
Väärtnõu: “Me, Arvi and Eke left Tallinn by Arvi`s car with papers and documents around 5pm, so that we would be next day in Moscow, and the press conference was supposed to be the a day after. When we reached to Maardu a militia booth, three black KGB Volga cars were already set on the road - so they knew we were going. the KGB commanded us out of the car and put it in different cars and rushed back to the police station where we were separated. Colonel Roos commanded to search the car well and disassemble it.
However, the documents were at the same time within my thermos septum. No one knew about this fact. I said I wanted to drink coffee, and so were documents with me all the time. We sat at the KGB for 4-5 hours and finally we were allowed to leave but KGB cars followed us until Moscow. We stayed over night in different places, and Eke and Arvi didn't know about my place. They also knew nothing about Enn's stay in Moscow because I took into account the possibility that we would be arrested. Enn never talked to anyone about this mission, not even the closest people. We had such an agreement. Now, they are wondering when reading this story.” J. The press conference for western journalists
Vaartou: “The press conference took place in one apartment, and there were two -militia cars in front of the house and 6 KGB cars at the corner. There was already about 20 journalists present, and then more people came. The fact that they were there before was a protective for us. Then few militiamen came to break the door and insisted - 'otkroyte, militsia”. Probably the KGB had commanded everyone to be arrested. The situation became already dramatic when someone shout ‘kinokamera idjot’ was heard on the stairs and the ABC cameraman marched in, and a big light in front of the camera. The militias fled and at 10am the press conference started.
I introduced myself to journalists firstly, and I told them that I had an important message to the Western press about relations between Russia and Estonia. I took out a paper that was like a manifesto. I told them that Estonia has been occupied for 40 years and needs independence,which it will get anyway, as the Soviet Union is in trouble because the Communists have ruined the country. I explained that if the empire breaks down then usually the small ones who are left behind would suffer. It is like a ship that drowns with others when drowning. As Estonia has developed quite
well compared to other republics, therefore it is easier for Estonia to move to the Western market. Besides, historically Tallinn is one of the cities of the Hansa League. In short, I explained why it is more useful for Estonia to be on its own.
Then journalists started asking questions - do I mean it seriously, and how do I want to come to power. I answered that publicly, through the elections, after which the journalists said it is not possible. I told that we gathered here for a press conference and we were not arrested - so it would be possible. Every first time is unbelievable, I use the empire against the empire, and they do not realize it because the nature of communism is conservative, inflexible.
Most of the soviet politicians had seen the tsar, attended school at that time, and the current time was incomprehensible to them. Stalin and Beria were dead as well Molotov and Malenkov, and Gorbatchov led the state. But because he was not foresight, he did not realize that the empire would be dismantled. In total, the press conference lasted two hours, we shared the Proposal to the journalists with our contact details.
At the end of the press conference, the journalists literally rushed to the taxis, which had already been ordered in advance, to send the world a message about the proposal to create opposition party against the Communists and the request for independence of Estonia. Our triad went out as well. We drove back to Tallinn, the only difference was that we were followed by three KGB black Volgas - one in front and two in the back. Eke and Arvi thought we would be killed. I told them that they would protect us that nothing would happen to us because it would be a terrible embarrassment for the Soviet Union. And now, during the perestroika, they will never dare to do it. What we did was sensation, and at this moment all the newspapers are already writing about this press conference.” K. Back in Estonia
After the press conference in Moscow, the New York Times correspondent Philip Taubman who had arrived Moscow and was looking for Väärtnõu, called to Natali (Väärtnõu spouse), and came Tallinn. He made an interview with Väärtnõu for several hours at his home, also Arvi Orula was present. Väärtnõu talked to Taubman about his plans for the party and the situation in the Soviet Union.
After the press conference Väärtnõu started organizing slogans and printing leaflets, where he introduced ENIP and roused the people of Estonia to awakening. There were thousands of leaflets distributed throughout Estonia. The KGB went from house to house, and picked up the leaflets.
Väärtnõu: “ I spoke to well-known dissidents that they would help print leaflets - they absolutely refused to help me and said they would be shut down. I said that I could be shut down as well, for what they said - this is your event, you know what you are doing.
So I found a solution without the help of dissidents. I wrote the text on the leaflets and printed them with silk screening. Since KGB car stood steadily in front of the Brotherhood house, I had to find a place around which was possible to move easily. Then I got an idea that the best solution would be a petrol station with hundreds of cars a day and around it was possible to move easily. I talked with Lasnamäe petrol station staff who allowed to set up printer and we printed thousands of leaflets there.” L. In Exile
After arriving in Stockholm, Väärtnõu was constantly called by the Free Europe radio editor Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who congratulated Väärtnõu and said that he broke the back of Russian bear. The question arises, was T.H. Ilves already then thinking about the presidential chair of Estonia when he interviewed Vello Väärtnõu about the Proposal for ENIP and free Estonia?
In March 1988, Marju Lauristin, future leader of the Popular Front of Estonia for the Support of Perestroika, came to see Väärtnõu in Sweden and talk about the future of Estonia. As the communists did not know what was going to happen, they were afraid of direct national repressions that the ERSP could have adopted against them. But Väärtnõu refused to talk about the matter because he was not interested in gaining power, and because Lauristin was, and is a communist. Several people attended the meeting, including Arvi Orula who is now living in Australia. After this meeting in Stockholm, Popular Front was established in late April1988.
Väärtnõu: “As strange as it is, besides the ENIP proposal, there was no group in Estonia that would have been able to come up with the idea of Estonian independence.
I called almost every day from Stockholm to Eve Parnaste and urged to form party immediately. Unfortunately they gave initiative to communists who had old connections, state finances in their hand and party was made only 6 months later. Now, if you look how they handle history in the media and the books, I am struck by how the Estonian people love stupid communists. I feel embarrassed for the Estonians. I did the party and after that they jumped into my boat and started proudly to row.” M. ENIP congress in 1989
Väärtnõu: “ I was invited to speak at the congress. I came at the right time, took a seat and when the congress began, the doors were opened where Christians marched with flags. I thought then - what the counterfeiting of history by ENIP. I imagined that Buddhists should march in through the door. The Buddhists were the ones who made party and program, printed the leaflets and distributed in Estonia. Two Buddhists and one non-Christian traveled to Moscow for a press conference announcing independence for Estonia. I didn't see any Christians there. It was a falsification of history.
I got up and went out of the hall. I realized that the project and the implementation of one beautiful idea were turned by dissidents and Estonians together with Christians into a canvas. That ended my political activity in Estonia. There is no word about the Buddhist part in the ENIP history book of 700 pages written by Pärnaste, and thus Pärnaste has contributed to the falsification of Estonian history.” N. How Väärtnõu was welcomed to Estonia in 2007
In 2007, Vello Väärtnõu went to Estonia with intention to build the 5th stupa into Estonia. On the 20th August 2007, Väärtnõu was discussing at his Veltsa country house with volunteers how to build a stupa when about 20-30 masked policemen suddenly jumped out from the bush and attacked them violently.
All people were hit to the ground face down, including Väärtnõu who was hit back with the gun by the policeman. The police said they are looking for weapons. They started to search for weapons and searched the house which had stood empty 20 years and didn’t have doors and windows any more, and garden four hours - but nothing. Then 70 gr hemp was so to say ”found” instead of weapons. All men were arrested and taken to the jail. I (Marju Broder) drove to Swedish Embassy in Tallinn and explained what had happened, and said that I am extremely worried about Väärtnõu`s life. In the morning Väärtnõu was released with the help of the embassy but the police continued search Veltsa with metal detectors also next day.
What is somehow interesting that this happened on the 20h August, the anniversary of the establishment of the Estonian National Independence Party 19 years ago (20.08.1988). Such way Estonia welcomed Vello Väärtnõu, the author of ENIP, as there are still communists at power, and the KAPO (Estonian secret service) has incorporated over 30 ex-KGB workers. This fact is officially acknowledged with the explanation that these agents are experts in their field.O. Busy with Buddhism as always
After deportation Väärtnõu studied in Tribhuvan university and Bhutanese monastery many years.
Later he spent 8 years in solitary retreat and became active again in 2005. Väärtnõu built the 5th stupa, temple and prayer wheels into Estonia and created the first online Buddhist Encyclopedia in Estonian language.
Today he is the author of the two annual international Buddhist conferences which work already 14 years, and is the author of an online Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia which is considered one the biggest online sources on Buddhism. He is the first person to create Buddhist thangkas, temples and mandalas in 3D graphics. He has also had art exhibitions all over the world and his famous thangkas have found their way to Thai Royal Family, Stockholm Ethnographic Museum and many private collections. II. CONCLUSION
The proposal for the creation of Estonian National Independence Party was a solo project of a Buddhist Vello Väärtnõu- all from the idea and programme to execution was his arrangement. It nullified the communists perestroika plan to continue as an empire. So the ‘out of box’, the Buddhist way of thinking is a part of Estonian fight for independence and catalyst for the collapse of the USSR.
A Buddhist Väärtnõu was the first in Soviet times to openly attack the foundations of the communist country, giving the direction of independence fight in the future. However, about Väärtnõu` historical proposal for ENIP keep
quiet Estonian history books. In some newspaper articles he is mentioned as a member of MRP AEG, which he has never been. Moreover, in newspaper 'Eestiuudised', Väärtnõu 's idea and press-conference in Moscow were introduced like belonging to Isamaa Party (History of the Isamaa:Introducing the idea of the ENIP in the apartment in Moscow). Isamaa patented the name 'Estonian National Independence Party' without asking any permission from the author of this idea and this title. This is called sa violation of intellectual property.
But what says Väärtnõu about himself?
Väärtnõu: “The West allowed me to do everything I wanted regarding my projects, which was not allowed in the Soviet Union including the current Republic of Estonia who did not let me realize my projects.
I may look like an Estonian, but I’m really more like an Asian in the way of thinking and lifestyle, and I have always buried all my money in Buddhism. I believe that people should get part of this grand cultural heritage offered to us by the Orient. This is my passion, my addiction. These are the only symptoms I have.”
Here some opinions 30 years later:
- Sir Arvi Parbo AC FTCE (Australia): “It was undoubtedly a bold act, even at Gorbachev's time when the situation in the Soviet Union was freer than before. It was new and bold that it was said in the Soviet Union, and moreover, at a press conference in Moscow.”
- Mart Laar (Prime Minister 1999-2002): “ A historic proposal, it made the way open for the whole Soviet Union”
- Tunne Kelam (the last chairman of ENIP): “Creating an ENIP broke the dam, the wave of new parties was followed, not only in Estonia, but also elsewhere in the Soviet Union.”
- Urmas Reinsalu (Minister of Justice 2015-2019): “ It can be said without exaggeration that the political contribution of the ENIP has made it possible the Republic of Estonia today.”
- Mai Raud (Estonian historian in Sweden):”Respect to Vello Väärtnõu who started a great organization work. He is a really worthy man. I think the ENIP was a courageous step from the bold people and eventually lead to the liberation of Estonia.”
- Trivimi Velliste (Member of Parliament):” The courage of this initiative must be emphasized! And the Kremlin, of course, perceived and interpreted this resistance precisely.”
- Mati Kiirend (Estonian dissident):”Väärtnõu`s initiative had a major catalytic role . And this role proved to be very timely and fundamental to further developments.”
- Sander Jurisson (The Museum of Occupations): “Gorbatchov`reaction is a kind of inadvertent recognition by the head of state for the activities of the Väärtnõu.”
- Silver Tambur (Estonian World):” ENIP played a very important role in Estonian society, Gorbatchov apparently feared Väärtnõu` initiative, it seems a logical conclusion.”
- Jyri Estam (Journalist): “Was it Buddhism that gave him a cold stomach? But the idea itself was a worthwhile idea, and maybe it wouldn't have germinated if there hadn't been a man who was not afraid.”Marju Broder
Stupas built by Vello Väärtnõu in Estonia in the 80s