Arnold Rüütel

President of Estonia
Born: 10 May, 1928 on the island Saaremaa, Estonia. He graduated from Janeda Agricultural College in 1949 and then worked in the field. In parallel he joined the Communist Party and rose through both government and Party ranks. Together with other pro-reform Communists like Vaino Väljas, Arnold Rüütel played a major part in the preparation and composition of the Estonian declaration of sovereignty that was adopted by the Estonian Supreme Soviet on November 16, 1988. On March 29, 1990 Rüütel was appointed as the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic.
In that capacity he represented Estonia in the key meeting with Boris Yeltsin at the house, in which Estonian independence was confirmed. He had been a regular visitor to the house prior to that as a member of the Baltic Council. He continued as the Chairman until October 5, 1992 when the position was abolished as the new President Estonia was democratically elected. Arnold Rüütel ran for the post of President in that election but lost to Lennart Meri. The two competed again in the next presidential election 1996, with L. Meri winning again.
Arnold Rüütel was finally elected to the Presidency in 2001, defeating Toomas Savi in a vote in the Electoral College and served one term, until 2006. He did not win reelection. His greatest achievement as President is generally considered to be successfully leading his country into the European Union in 2003.