LAW ON CULTURAL AUTONOMY
FOR NATIONAL MINORITIES
Adopted on 26 October 1993
Chapter I. General Provisions
This Law considers as national minorities citizens of Estonia who:
(1) For the purposes of the present Law, cultural autonomy for national minorities is defined as the right of individuals belonging to a national minority to establish cultural autonomy in order to achieve the cultural rights given to them by the constitution.
(2) National minority cultural autonomy may be established by persons belonging to German, Russian, Swedish and Jewish minorities and persons belonging to national minorities with a membership of more than 3000.
(1) Every member of a national minority has the right to preserve his or her ethnic identity, cultural traditions, native language and religious beliefs.
(2) It is prohibited to ridicule and to obstruct the practice of ethnic cultural traditions and religious practices and to engage in any activity which is aimed at the forcible assimilation of national minorities.
Members of a national minority have the right:
(1) The principal objective of national minority cultural autonomy is:
(2) National minorities have the right, in the interests of their ethnic culture, to form institutions of cultural autonomy, that shall observe the laws of Estonia in addressing issues within their competence.
Foreigners residing in Estonia may participate in the activities of cultural and educational institutions and religious congregations of national minorities, but they may not vote or be elected or appointed to the leadership of the institutions of cultural self-government.
Chapter II. The National Register of National Minorities
(1) The application for national minority cultural autonomy shall be based on the national register of national minorities.
(2) The national registers of national minorities shall be prepared by ethnic cultural societies or their federations. Regulations for the keeping and use of national registers shall be established by the Government of the Republic.
(1) The national register contains the following information regarding a person:
(2) Children under the age of 15 shall be entered in the national register at the request of their parents.
(3) A person's name is included in the national register on basis of a personal application. The application may be submitted by mail.
A person shall be deleted from the national register:
Chapter III. The Establishment of the Principal Organizations
for the Cultural Autonomy of National Minorities
Persons belonging to a national minority wishing to establish cultural autonomy shall present the appropriate application to the Government through their ethnic cultural society or federation of societies.
(1) The principal organizations of cultural autonomy for national minorities are the cultural council of a national minority and the cultural boards governing the activities of cultural autonomy institutions.
(2) A cultural council may form the city or county cultural council of a national minority or appoint local cultural representatives.
The cultural council of a national minority is elected in direct and uniform elections, by secret ballot. Voting takes place in voting districts, either in person or by mail.
(1) For the purpose of organizing the elections of a cultural council, an ethnic cultural society or federation of societies shall elect a general election committee, the composition of which shall be confirmed by the Government of the Republic and to which the Government shall appoint its representative so as to monitor compliance with electoral regulations.
(2) If necessary, the general election committee shall form local election committees and shall issue organisational directives on procedures for the holding of elections, tabulating and announcing results.
Electoral regulations for national minority cultural councils shall be drafted and approved by the Government of the Republic.
Electoral lists shall be compiled on the basis of the national register of national minorities prescribed by article 8 of the present Law.
(1) Elections shall not be held if less than one-half of the persons in the national register have consented to be registered on the electors list.
(2) The given national minority may submit an application for the holding of new elections to the cultural council no earlier than three years after any previous application.
(1) Electoral lists shall be made public no less than two months prior to the elections.
(2) Every person entered on the electors list has the right to request that his or her name be deleted from the list, until no later than two weeks prior to the elections.
(1) The number of members of the national minority cultural council shall be determined by the general election committee, however the number may not be more than 60 or less than 20.
(2) The cultural council is elected for a term of three years.
Elections to the national minority cultural council are considered to have been held if more than one-half of the electors entered on the electoral list participate in the elections and the election is held in accordance with the present Law and electoral regulations.
Protests and complaints regarding the carrying out of cultural council elections shall be resolved by the general election committee no later than two weeks after the announcement of election results.
The chairman of the general election committee shall convene the first meeting of the cultural council no later than one month after the results of the cultural council elections have been announced and shall preside over the session until the executive has been elected. Subsequently, the general election committee shall declare its authority to be terminated.
At the first meeting of the cultural council, a majority of the council shall adopt statutes regarding cultural autonomy which determine:
Expenses related to the election of the national minority cultural council are paid by the national minority cultural autonomy body. However, expenses related to the election of the cultural council may be provided from the state budget.
Chapter IV. Institutions of Cultural Autonomy and the Financing of their Activities
Institutions of cultural autonomy are:
The establishment of a national minority school(class) and the organisation of its work is governed by the provisions of the Law on Private Schools.
Institutions of cultural autonomy are independent legal persons, may own real property and are liable for their financial obligations.
(1) National minority cultural autonomy and its activities are financed from:
(2) Resources allocated for the specific purpose of national minority cultural autonomy may be used only in accordance with procedures prescribed for that purpose. The use of the funds shall be monitored in accordance with current legal acts by authorized state auditing bodies.
Chapter V. The Termination of the Activities of National Minority Cultural Autonomy Institutions
The Government of the Republic shall terminate the activities of institutions of national minority cultural autonomy where:
Upon the termination of its activities, the property of a national minority cultural autonomy institution shall be transferred in accordance with procedures established by decision of the cultural council.
Chapter VI. Final provisions
The Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic Law on the Ethnic Rights of Citizens of the Estonian SSR of December 15, 1989 is repealed. (ESSR Gazette 1989, 40, 618)
Source: The Estonia Page