Käbin, Johannes (Ivan)

24 September 1905 Kalvi parish, Viru county – 26 October 1999 Tallinn

Long-time party leader in Estonian SSR, 1950s-1970s
Käbin’s family resettled from Estonia to Russia in 1907. In 1927 he joined the Communist Party and afterwards mostly held party positions. In 1936 he began at the Moscow Institute of the Red Professoriate, which he did not complete. In 1941 he was dispatched to the Estonian SSR and took up a position in the CP central committee. At the start of the war between Germany and the Soviet Union, he left Estonia for Russia. After his return in 1944 he again worked in the central committee; in 1947-1948 he was director of the Institute of Party History and in 1948 was promoted to the post of party secretary in the field of propaganda and agitation. At the Communist Party March Plenum in 1950, Käbin was one of the instigators in removing the first secretary Nikolai Karotamm from his post, hence getting the position himself. He was head of the Estonian Communist Party for 28 years. This period witnessed various phenomena: the people who suffered most in the repressive policies of the early 1950s were the intellectuals, whereas the 1960s can be regarded as the heyday of Estonian culture during the entire Soviet period. In the 1970s, the Soviet central authorities began Russifying Estonian-language education, which Käbin and the other party leaders did not hinder in any way. The central committee of the Soviet CP dismissed Käbin from the party leader’s position in 1978, and appointed him chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSR. In 1983 he retired.

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