Vaino, Karl

28.05.1923 Tomsk

Soviet Estonian party leader 1978-1988, who in the eyes of Estonians uncompromisingly defended the interests of the Moscow central authorities and encouraged Russification in Soviet Estonia 

Born in Russia to a family of Estonian emigrants. Both his parents were members of the communist party. Joined the party in 1947, having graduated from the Tomsk Institute of Electrical Engineering of Railway Transport Engineers as an energy engineer. In 1957 finished the distance learning course of the Communist Party Higher School of the Central Committee of the USSR.

In 1947 Karl Vaino was despatched to Soviet Estonia to work in his speciality. He had a job in energetics in 1947-48 with the railways, and then took up party work. In the Central Committee of the Soviet Estonian Communist Party  he was responsible for industry between 1948 and 1952. In 1952 he was oblast (regional) committee secretary of the Estonian CP in Tallinn; in 1953-1957 head of the CP Central Committee industry and transport department; in 1957-60 vice-chairman of the Council of National Economy. Was promoted in 1960 to Secretary of the Central Committee, where he was responsible for supervising industry. In 1978 he was appointed First Secretary of the Soviet Estonian CP, which essentially meant the leader of the Estonian SSR. In that role he was characterised as a persistent implementer of Russification who forced Estonians to be bilingual in Estonian and Russian and who encouraged the influx of Russian-speaking migrants into Estonia. Vaino himself spoke broken Estonian. In 1988, the extremely unpopular party leader amongst Estonians, he was removed from his job by the Central Committee of the USSR and was recalled to Moscow. He worked until retirement in 1990 as a member of the Party Control Committee at the USSR Central Committee.

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