On August 23, 1989, over a million people formed a human chain spanning Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to demand an end to the Soviet occupation. On Sunday, the Freedom Way stretched 32 kilometres from Cathedral Square in central Vilnius to Medininkai, a town close to the Belarusian border. Now, Lithuania is expressing solidarity with the people of Belarus, who are fighting for freedom today.
Former Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, first from right, and other supporters of Belarus opposition participate in a “Freedom Way”, a human chain of about 50,000 strong from Vilnius to the Belarusian border, during a protest near Medininkai, Lithuanian-Belarusian border crossing east of Vilnius, Lithuania, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020.
People in Lithuania form human chain from Vilnius to Belarusian border
Medininkai – On August 23, the 31st anniversary of the Baltic Way, some 50,000 people, many of them dressed in white and wearing face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, formed a human chain from Vilnius to the Belarusian border to express solidarity with protests in the neighboring country.
Lithuanians stood in a human chain stretching more than 30 kilometers from Vilnius to the border with Belarus on August 23 in a show of support for protesters in their neighboring country who are calling for the end of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s rule.
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, who participated along with former leaders of the Baltic country, said he was pleased to join so many people in a demonstration of unity with people of Belarus.
“We are with you, free Belarus, and we extend our hand to you,”Nauseda said after linking hands at the border in the “Freedom Way” human chain.
“The nations who had lost their freedom cherish it the most. That is why Lithuania did not hesitate to declare its full support to the Belarusian people who seek to shed the shackles of captivity,”he said.
“Today we say: we are with you, free Belarus, and we are offering you our helping hand.”
Nausėda finished his speech by saying “Zhyve Belarus” (Long live Belarus), a chant used by protesters in the neighbouring country.
In Vilnius, a hot-air balloon lifted the flag above Cathedral Square, and planes flew over releasing flowers into the crowd.
Opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who has left Belarus for Lithuania, did not attend because of security concerns, according to her team. But she issued a video acknowledging the gesture in the country where she has been staying since the election.
“More than anyone else, you can understand Belarusians, because not so long ago you went through the same as we do now,”Tsikhanouskaya said.
Tsikhanouskaya was the main opposition candidate in the August 9 presidential election that officials say Lukashenka won by a landslide. The opposition has disputed the results and said the election was rigged.
The Freedom Way stretched 32 kilometers from Vilnius to Medininkai, a town close to the Belarusian border.
The Freedom Chain coincided with the 31st anniversary of the Baltic Way. On August 23, 1989, over a million people formed a human chain spanning Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, to demand independence from the Soviet Union.