Lithuanians form human chain to back democracy in Belarus


Former Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, second 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. In Aug. 23, 1989, around 2 million Lithuanians, Latvians, and Estonians joined forces in a living 600 km (375 mile) long human chain Baltic Way, thus demonstrating their desire to be free. Now, Lithuania is expressing solidarity with the people of Belarus, who are fighting for freedom today. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

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MEDIKINNAI, Lithuania (AP) — More than 50,000 Lithuanians joined hands Sunday in a human chain stretching 32 kilometers (20 miles) from the capital of Vilinus to the Belarus border to express solidarity with their neighbor’s dramatic struggle for democracy.

The massive event, dubbed “the Freedom Way” resembled another historic event on August 23, 1989, when over a million people in the nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania formed the Baltic Way, a human chain stretching from Vilnius to Tallinn, to demand an end to the Soviet occupation.

The message Sunday was similar: The people of Belarus deserve elections that are free, fair and democratic.

“Thirty years ago, Lithuania broke its shackles of oppression, showing the world that we are free and, first of all, free in our spirit. Today, the time has come for our Belarusian brothers to say the dear word ‘freedom,’” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said.

He was one of many prominent Lithuanians who joined the event, along with former presidents Valdas Adamkus and Dalia Grybauskaite, diplomats and military officers from dozens of countries.

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