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The President of the Republic received the highest award of the Defence League

The President Arnold Rüütel and the Commander of the Defence  League major Benno LeesikThe Defence League today, on the 13th anniversary of the resumption of their activities, presented to President Arnold Rüütel the 1st Class Distinguished Service Badge of the White Cross. The Head of State earned the highest award of the Defence League through his personal contribution to the re-establishment of the organisation and his long-time participation in the work of the Defence League's Assembly of Elders.

It was Arnold Rüütel who on 4 September 1991 signed the resolution of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Estonia that declared null and void the decree of 27 June 1940 on the liquidation of the Defence League and reinstated the organisation as a legal entity. Since 1993, the incumbent Head of State has contributed to the progress of the Defence League as a member of its Assembly of Elders.

The ceremony of presenting the Distinguished Service Badge, the Defence League's Assembly of Elders, Central Board, and representatives of the units participating, took place this afternoon in front of the Kadriorg Presidential Palace.

President Rüütel in his word of thanks said that to him, in his capacity as the supreme commander of the national defence of Estonia and a member of the Defence League's Assembly of Elders, it was a great honour to receive a high recognition like that. The Head of State also expressed appreciation for the members of the Defence League who, being volunteers, give their time for building up and maintaining our defence capabilities.

"I am delighted to note that, at the moment, the Defence League together with its special organisations is uniting 15.000 individuals whose patriotism, selflessness and commitment to patriotic goals set an example to many others," the President said.

Office of the President
Kadriorg, February 17, 2003

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