On the top floor of Toompea Castle, in a room next to the attic, a radio communications center started operations on July 10, 1991, which made it possible to communicate with foreign countries, international organizations, (UN), the White House in Moscow (Yeltsin’s headquarters), all the power structures under the jurisdiction of the Estonian Government, Estonia’s counties, the Latvian and Lithuanian governments, as well as to monitor the radio communications of the Soviet Army, Intermovement, KGB, air traffic, ship traffic, Soviet border guard, etc. It was also technically possible to immediately establish direct contact with the opposing side. Under the roof of the castle, we established an entire field of antennas in order to use varied radio frequencies, while none of the antennas were visible from the outside.
Most complicated was maintaining communications with the counties and the only possibility was to involve radio amateurs, because they existed in all the counties. A large number of the radio amateurs at that time were involved, whose trustworthiness was not in doubt. Naturally, they did not know where the information that they collected was going, and who was actually giving them instructions and organizing their activity. The information from the radio amateurs was not sent directly to Toompea Castle, but to specific amateur radio stations in Tallinn that directed the work of radio amateurs. At the Castle, we just had to listen in on these communications. It was agreed that the veil of secrecy would not be raised on the radio station at the Castle, because our goal was to operate only as a last resort.
The radio communications jamming group was located at another location and received direct instructions from the Toompea communications center. A total of 60 people worked under me to guarantee communications for the Estonian Government.
When the personnel carriers from Pskov arrived in Tallinn on the evening of August 19th, the soldiers were relatively tired, but a communications test was the first thing they did. This provided us with their working frequencies and backup frequencies. These battle vehicles had four built-in channels, as well as a fifth radio station, and we knew all the frequencies.
The most important moment was the attack on the TV tower. The infantry men went up into the tower at four or five in the morning. At the same time, the armored vehicle group took up positions around the tower. Thereafter the unit commander communicated with the Commander of the Pskov Division in Tondi and reported that they were in place. He didn’t say at the TV tower, but it was clear to us because we were in direct contact with the TV tower at all times.
Thereafter, the Division Commander ordered them to report on the situation. In the army, this is executed with the help of an ordinary code table, for instance, two-three numbers stand for some phrase. From the moment they started to read the numbers, we started our jamming. The attackers tried all the reserve frequencies, but they were met everywhere by our jammer. They did not succeed in reporting on the situation and the commander of the entire operation could not give the order to attack. We were not ready for this. We improvised, but everything turned out perfectly. We interrupted their communications for three and a half hours. No information from the TV tower reached the leadership. It was rumored that they even set up a messenger.
Later, when we reviewed the recordings, a surprising fact became clear. We had even been able to jam the communications between the different Soviet Army units that were at the TV tower in Pirita!
The communications center was in direct contact with Moscow, but the White House (Russian Parliament building) did not know that we were representatives of the Estonian Government.
Edgar Savisaar, who arrived back around seven-eight o’clock on the evening of August 19th, was in contact with the Lithuanian Prime Minister that same night with the help of the radio communications center. The next day, Jaak Leimann, the Deputy Prime Minister, used the radio communications to consult with Lithuania. Naturally, the principal communications work was executed by the team at the communications center—Tarmo Ränisoo, Jüri Kala and Aadu Jõgiaas.
Few examples of disturbing soviet transmissions in August 1991
Hardware used in Toompea castle:
Radio Station P-858
Amateur shortwave transmitter Efir (•Self made power amplifier with MMT output power 500W (soviet paratroopers had Output power up to 20W)
Radio receiver P – 250M2
Radio Station P – 123, main instrument of paratroopers and our MPM agitator