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Edgar Savisaar
Edgar Savisaar 2005.jpg
1st Prime Minister of the Interim Government of Estonia
In office
20 August 1991 – 29 January 1992
President Arnold Rüütel
as Chairman of the Supreme Soviet (1990)
as Chairman of the Supreme Council (1990–1992)
Preceded by position established
Otto Tief
as last acting Prime Minister in 1944
Succeeded by Tiit Vähi
Minister of the Interior
In office
12 April 1995 – 10 October 1995
Preceded by Kaido Kama
Succeeded by Märt Rask
Mayor of Tallinn
In office
9 April 2007 – 30 September 2015
Preceded by Jüri Ratas
Succeeded by Taavi Aas
In office
December 2001 – October 2004
Preceded by Tõnis Palts
Succeeded by Tõnis Palts
Personal details
Born 31 May 1950 (1950-05-31) (age 71)
Harku, Estonia
Political party Communist Party (1983–1988)
Popular Front (1988–1991)
Centre Party (1991–present)
Spouse(s) Vilja Laanaru (1996–2009)
Children 4, including Erki Savisaar
Alma mater University of Tartu

Edgar Savisaar (born 31 May 1950) is an Estonian politician, one of the founding members of Popular Front of Estonia and the Centre Party. He has served as the acting Prime Minister of Estonia, Minister of the Interior, Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications and mayor of Tallinn.

Early life and parents

Savisaar was born in the Harku Prison in 1950. His parents farmers Elmar Savisaar (1911–1970) and Marie Savisaar née Burešin (1912–1984) from Vastse-Kuuste, Tartu County, had been convicted in 1949 for resisting the collectivization. The events, which had culminated with physical conflict, had started when kolhoz activists came to nationalise Savisaar's two cows named Marja and Oksa, a pig, an horse drawn hay rake, a spring-tooth harrow and other farming equipment. Elmar was sentenced for 15 years (freed in 1952) and Marie for 5 years (freed in 1950) in prison.


After graduating from high school, Savisaar continued his studies at the University of Tartu. In 1973, he graduated from the university with a degree in history. In 1980, he wrote his candidate thesis in philosophy on the topic "Social Philosophical Foundations of the Global Models of the Club of Rome".


From 1980 to 1988, Savisaar worked in the Soviet Estonian governmental institutions dealing with the planning of economy. During 1988–1989, he was the academic director for the consultation company "Mainor".

In April he co-established the Popular Front (Rahvarinne) which became the first political mass organization in Soviet Union outside Communist Party after 1920. Initially formed to "support perestroika" Popular Front started increasingly develop ideas of Estonian national independence and created so called Singing Revolution phenomenon. The process with several others lead to dissolution of Soviet Union ultimately.

In 1989, he became the Vice-Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Estonian SSR and the Head of the State Plan Committee. In 1990, he was the Minister of Economic Affairs. On 3 April 1990, he was appointed the Chairman of the Council of Ministers. When Estonia declared its independence on 20 August 1991, he became the first Prime Minister of the Republic of Estonia. His government was in office until 29 January 1992, when he resigned after supplementary problems and a continuing decline in economy. Most of his governing time was characterized by hyperinflation and ever increasing deficit of goods. "Purchase cards" and ration stamps were introduced. During the winter of 1991/1992 preparations were made to evacuate the dormitory regions of Tallinn due to shortage of fuel. On 31 December 1991, people stood for hours in the bread queues, many were eventually left without bread. In January 1992, butter disappeared from the shops. Savisaar managed to win a vote of non-confidence, being mostly supported by his Popular Front, left-wing parties and the Intermovement, but stepped down when it turned out impossible to introduce a state of emergency. He was replaced by a technocratic government under Tiit Vähi.

From 1992 until 1995, Savisaar was the Vice-Speaker of the Estonian Parliament (Riigikogu). From 17 April to 6 November 1995, he was the Minister for Internal Affairs. When he was accused of recording private conversations of other politicians, the entire government faltered. Although his participation in the recordings was never proved, he announced his intention to leave politics. However, in 1996, he participated in the elections of the Riigikogu and became the chairman of the Tallinn City Council. His return to the Centre Party leader's post evoked a split, as some leading members disillusioned with Savisaar's leadership style left to found Arengupartei. From 2001 to 14 October 2004, he was mayor of Tallinn. On 11 April 2005, he became Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications in the new coalition of Prime Minister Andrus Ansip and worked in the post until March 2007. Since 2007 he has been mayor of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia.

Edgar Savisaar and Estonia People's Union leader Villu Reiljan jointly supported Arnold Rüütel's candidature for presidency in August–September 2006; Toomas Hendrik Ilves was elected though, a choice criticised by Savisaar and attributed by him to alleged hostile media and partisan lawmakers. Savisaar refused to congratulate the winner.

In 2016, the discussion on electing a new leader escalated in the Centre Party and an extraordinary party congress was called for November. MP Jüri Ratas was the first to announce his candidacy, after which four others followed, including Yana Toom. Even though Savisaar first announced his candidacy, he later announced that he would not participate the leadership election and instead endorsed Toom.

Savisaar has published four books. He has received the Order of the National Coat of Arms 2nd Class in 2001 and 1st Class in 2006 from Estonia and the Order of the Three Stars 2nd Class in 2005 from Latvia.

Personal life

Edgar Savisaar has been married three times and is the father of four children. From his marriage to Kaire Savisaar he has a son Erki Savisaar, who is a Centre Party a politician. From his marriage to Liis Remmel (then Liis Savisaar), he has a daughter Maria and son Erki. The last marriage was to Vilja Toomast (then Vilja Savisaar), who is also an Estonian politician. They had a daughter, Rosina. The couple announced their separation and divorce in December 2009.

In March 2015, Savisaar was hospitalized due to an infection of Streptococcus bacteria in his right leg which had to be amputated above the knee. He contracted the disease during a trip in Thailand.

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