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(Ivan Iakovlevich Laidoner). Born Jan. 31 (Feb. 12), 1884, in the volost (small rural district) of Viiratsi, now in Viljandi Raion, Estonian SSR; died Mar. 13, 1953. Estonian military leader and political figure; general. Son of a farmhand.
Laidoner entered the Russian army in 1901 and graduated from the Academy of the General Staff in 1912. He served in World War I as chief of staff of an infantry division and left with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Between December 1917 and February 1918, Laidoner commanded an Estonian division which had been formed in Soviet Russia. He stayed in Russia from February to November 1918 during the German occupation of Estonia.
In December 1918, Laidoner returned to Estonia and was placed in charge of the Estonian Army, which twice in 1919 took part in the attack on Petrograd by the Northwestern Army of White Guard General N. N. Iudenich. Laidoner directed the suppression of the armed uprising of the Estonian proletariat from December 1924 to January 1925. He then went into retirement until 1934. With K. Pats, Laidoner carried out a fascist coup d’etat on Mar. 12, 1934, and was appointed commander in chief of the Estonian Army. From 1937 to 1940 he was a deputy to the National Assembly and member of the State Council. After Soviet power was established in Estonia, Laidoner was arrested for counterrevolutionary activity in July 1940. He was tried and exiled from the Estonian SSR.
KH. T. ARUMIAE