One of the more intriguing aspects of this book is that it allows you to be in the room with President Konstantin Päts and Prime Minister Johannes Vares-Barbarus when decisions are being made about Andrei Zhdanov's directives to the Estonian puppet government. The details emerge about just how the elections of July 1940 took place in the testimony of Johannes Klesment, who was a counselor to the government at that time:
Klesment's testimony then goes into how the list of candidates was created for the illegal election on July 14 and 15, and finally how the parliament itself voted to join the USSR.
[Minister of Interior Affairs] Maksim Unt was called to the Soviet Legation and I went home. On the next day he sent me his assistant, Mr. Vihalem, and Mr. Vihalem had a little piece of paper in his hand and he gave it to me. I remember it very well. There was written in the Russian language in green ink that the elections must take place on the 14th and 15th of July. It was after 10 days instead of 35 days as demanded by law.
I discussed this option with him. He himself was an assistant professor in the university. I asked him how he thinks we can do it. He said there was nothing to be done. I asked him who had written on this paper with green ink in the Russian language. He did not know.
The next day the President was called from his summer residence, which is about 100 miles from Tallinn. He was called back to Tallinn for a meeting of the cabinet ... then Mr. Vares, prime minister of the puppet government, said to the president on the last evening that he was ordered by Soviet special representative Andrei Zhdanov that the new election of the parliament will be arranged and these elections will be carried out after 10 days.
He asked the president to make some changes in the election law. The president looked at me and said "Mr. Klesment, can I do it?" I said "Mr. President, it is impossible. The president cannot change the electoral law because according to the Constitution the electoral aw is changed only by parliament, and by presidential decrees it cannot be changed."
He smiled again and looked at the prime minister and said, "Mr. Prime Minister, how can I do it? You hear what the counselor of the government has said.
Well, Dr. Vares was very unhappy. He said he had told Mr. Zhdanov last evening it was impossible to arrange the elections so quickly. The President said to him that it may be that Mr. Zhdanov is stubborn and he demands we arrange an election. We can do it according to laws. Later on, Dr. Vares proposed that the government itself change the electoral law. Then the other members of the puppet government -- one of them was a professor in the university, Prof. [Hans] Kruus, and he said a presidential decree cannot change the electoral law and if he couldn't, how could we do it?
It took a little time and then the pupper government decided that it would change the electoral law by cabinet order. And so it was done. The President wrote a decision that he will have new elections, and then the Cabinet, knowing that it is quite contrary to the constitution, decided to make a cabinet order and change the electoral law.
Rep. Charles Kersten: Were you present at the meeting of the parliament where the parliament took action on the incorporation of Estonia into the Soviet Union?Think of that next time you walk up Toompea to the Riigikogu building.
Klesment: Yes, I attended the meeting.
Kersten: State whether or not there were any Soviet troops or military there.
Klesment: Oh, yes.
Kersten: Right in the parliament?
Klesment: Yes, around the parliament, on the streets, and in the rooms of the parliament.
Kersten: While the voting was going on?
Kersten: Would you state whether or not they were armed?
Klesment: With arms, yes.
Kersten: Armed with what?
Klesment: With guns
Kersten: About how many Soviet troops were right in the parliament when this was going on?
Klesment: The parliament building is on a hill. There were Soviet tanks and so in front of parliament, and in the rooms of parliament, I cannot say exactly, but I would say there were 100 men, by all means, with guns and all. All the corridors are full of the Soviet armed soldiers and on the stairways and through the rooms.