According to the AP, Estonia is now the first former Soviet republic to approve a civil unions bill. With 23 lawmakers absent or abstaining, the bill passed by a vote of 40-38.
Via the AP:
The new law comes into force in 2016. Estonia, which like Baltic neighbors Latvia and Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union for almost five decades, is deemed the most Western-oriented of the former republics ruled by Moscow.
The Estonian Human Rights Center hailed the law as “historic,” saying it would send a strong message to neighboring Russia, which passed what it called “a draconian anti-gay law” last year.