On February 24, 1918, the Estonian Republic claimed independence. The Church was separated from the state and the religious communities and societies were granted equal rights in the law. § 11 of the Estonian Constitution provided the freedom of faith and unimpeded performance of religious rites for all citizens. Since the Old Believers were indigenous residents of Estonia, they were immediately recognized as citizens and a national minority together with all the consequences ensuing therefrom. In the 1920-30s, the number of Old Believers reached 10 thousand people. There were 6 registered communities in 1924, 11 in 1926 and 12 in 1936. Ten of them — the Tallinn, Tartu, Mustvee (Chernoye), Kallaste (Krasnye Gory), Big Kolki, Kikita, Kasepää, Varnja (Varanya, Voronye), Saareküla (Zhelachek) and Piirissaare (Mezha) communities — belonged to the Pomorian concord (soglasie). The Rayushi and Small Kolki communities were of the Fedoseyan concord.

In 1924, the 3d Congress of the Old Believer Communities raised the question of the consolidation of Old Believers under the aegis of the Old Believer Union of Estonia with the central organ of administration. Realization of the consolidation plan took several years, however. The project of the charter and organizational basis was worked out at the next congress in February 1928. The Old Believer Church of Estonia was founded at the 5th Old Believers’ Congress in Kallaste on July 17-19, 1928. The Congress focused on the legal problems of Old Believers’ life, organization of divine service and reinforcement of the spiritual foundation of the Old Belief. The representatives of 11 communities, i.e. 34 persons with casting vote, participated in the Congress. The Congress adopted the Charter of the Old Belief Church (Union) of Estonia, elected the Central Council and Ecclesiastical Committee. The Charter’s preamble indicated that “the Old Belief Church of Estonia is the Union of the Old Believer communities (confessional societies), situated in Estonia, and a self-governed organization with the rights of the juridical person”.

The Congress was the supreme power of the Old Believer Union and had to be convened annually. Each community elected a deputy from every 500 persons at the general community meeting.

The Central Old Believer Council as the executive power, consisting of 6 members and elected for three years, guided the life of the communities in the period between congresses. The Central Old Believer Council elected the chairman, vice-chairman, secretary and treasurer. The Ecclesiastical Committee was created to make easier the functioning of the Central Council. It consisted of 3 members elected by the Central Council and 3 members of ecclesiastical rank elected by the Old Believers’ Congress. The chairman and secretary of the Ecclesiastical Committee were elected separately.

The Council of the Old Believer Union was in charge of the Union’s work, calling of congresses, congress programs, managerial activities, representation of Old Believers in court, annual reports and organization of church life. The Ecclesiastical Committee considered the problems of Old Believers’ spiritual life: propagation of the Christian belief, interpretation of the canonical law, struggle with sectarianism and atheism, work with preceptors, ecclesiastical court, etc. The Auditing Committee controlled the managerial and office work. The Committee consisted of three members, was elected for two years and was endowed with the right to check the documentation of management and the state of property. The Unions’ property consisted of donations, collected means or allowances, etc.

The communities that recognized the Charter and applied for memberships, indicating the official name of the community, preceptor’s name and the list of community members, joined the Old Believer Union of Estonia. The membership was to be confirmed by the resolution of the Central Council. Y. Y. Grishakov, Z. A. Kuznetsov, P. P. Baranin, F. F. Prussakov, I. A. Dolgashev and D. S. Blokhin were elected the members of the Central Council of the OBUE. In the pre-war period, K. S. Berezin, L. Y. Grishakov, K. A. Malyshev, Y. Kulkov, P. Savostkin, A. Artashev, G. Venchikov and V. Sofronov were its members.

Initially, 11 communities were united under the aegis of the Central Council. After the adoption of the new Charter (1934) and re-registration of the Union on the basis of the law on religious societies (1936), the Small Kolki community of the Fedoseyan concord joined the Union as well. The new Charter fixed the membership fee 26 cents for those who joined the Union. The community regular fee was determined by the annual congress or gathering. The general meeting of the communities, Central Council, auditing committee and administration centers were established as the administrative organs of the Union. Creation of the ecclesiastical committees was not envisaged by the new Charter.
The Central Council of the OBUE worked first in Tartu (1928–1936), then in Tallinn (1936–1938) and Mustvee (1939–1940), as decided by the general congress. Y. Y. Grishakov (1928–1936), P. P. Baranin (1936-1938) and K. S. Berezin (1938-1940) were the chairmen of the Central Old Believer Council of Estonia.

The Old Believer Central Council was disbanded in 1940 and restored in 1995. Under the Soviet rule, the number of Old Believers became thrice smaller than before the war. There were about 5 thousand Old Believers and three acting preceptors on January 1, 2000. Z. S. Yetkin was the chairman of the Council of the Old Believer Communities of Estonia until 1998, P. G. Varunin has been the chairman from 1998 until now.

In 2004, the communities were re-registered. The Union of the Old Believer Communities unifies all communities of Estonia, except the Rayushi community. P. P. Varunin (the deputy secretary), I. T. Guzhov and Z. I. Kutkina were elected members of the council. Minor changes were introduced into the Charter in accordance with the law on confessional societies of the Estonian Republic. At present, the Old Believer Council unifies ten communities, nine of the Pomorian concord (Tartu, Tallinn, Kallaste, Mustvee, Big Kolki, Piirissaare, Kikita, Varnja, Kasepel) and one (Small Kolki) of the Fedoseyan concord.