Obituary: The legendary Estonian politician Mart Nutt dies

Mart Nutt, the legendary Estonian politician who on 2 June died at the early age of 57, was known for his straight talk and steadfast stance for human rights and freedoms.

“Only recently we sat behind the same table with you and had a discussion. As usual, the subjects were democracy and the constitution, accompanied by your cheerful mood and spark in the eye,” the Estonian president, Kersti Kaljulaid, said on Facebook about the late politician.

“You were an open-minded conservative, fighter for human rights and freedoms, a treasure of the parliament. A companion always in a good mood, ready to join in – for our Estonia, for its place in the world. But not only for Estonia – also for Ukraine, for Georgia, for people’s and peoples’ freedom, unhesitatingly. Strongly. Your whole life. A life dedicated to freedom. A life dedicated to Estonia. Rest in peace, dear Mart!”

A conservative in the best sense of the word

Mart Nutt, who died unexpectedly in the morning of 2 July, was born on 21 March 1962 in Tallinn. He graduated from Tartu University in 1985 as a historian and an ethnographer. In 2011, he successfully defended his PhD thesis at the Tallinn University of Technology.

Nutt was the member of the Estonian parliament, the Riigikogu, from 1990 onwards, the only politician to be an MP continuously since Estonia restored its independence. In 1989, he was one of the founders of the political youth association Res Publica and in 1990, he helped found the Republican Coalition Party that together with other centre-right parties merged into the union that became the reformist Isamaa in 1992. Nutt was a member of the Isamaa party since its inception.

“Mart Nutt was a conservative in the best sense of the word,” Isamaa said in the announcement of his passing. “He supported policy that was thought through and persistent and was one of the leading supporters of representative democracy through decades.”

Always possible to find compromises with him

The party’s chairman, Helir-Valdor Seeder, echoed the sentiment in his personal statement. “It’s a huge loss for us. Mart Nutt was one of the founders of the Estonian parliamentary democracy and the Isamaa Party,” he said. “Many things in the affairs of the state of independent Estonia look like Mart Nutt and we’re eternally grateful for his efforts. Rest in peace, dear friend.”

Even people from the other side of the political spectrum had good things to say about Nutt. Oudekki Loone, a Centre Party politician (the Centre Party is centre-left, Isamaa and Nutt centre-right), said in a Facebook post that Nutt was a good person.

“Thorough, smart, persistent, always happy, a great diplomat, the memory and conscience of the parliamentary democracy of the independent Estonia,” she said. “Even though our views of the world didn’t always match, it was always possible to discuss things with Mart and always find reasonable compromises. And it was great to do it.”

Nutt is survived by his partner, Aet Kukk, and father.