Gallery: Solidarity chain formed in Tallinn to support Belarusians

Hundreds of people gathered in Tallinn on Sunday to form a human chain to show solidarity with Belarusians protesting against the results of presidential elections which saw Alexander Lukashenko handed a sixth term in office earlier this month.

Supporters carrying placards, red and white flags and flowers braved the rain to form a human chain between Freedom Square (Vabaduse Väljak) and the Belarusian embassy, a distance of approximately 2 km along Pärnu maantee. The supporters then walked to Freedom Square and made speeches thanking people for taking part and supporting Belarusians.

The organizer of the solidarity chain Petra Lizaveta Maliukevich told ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" change will not happen quickly and showing support will help to inspire people in Belarus.

"If you see another person who is ready to fight, who stands for freedom, who is ready to come out in the rain and say that we will be free, everything will work out, I think it will give them strength," she said.

Mass protests have taken place across Belarus since the elections were held on August 9. The protesters are calling for new elections and for Lukashenko, who has been president for 26 years, to stand down. It is widely believed opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya won the election.

The human chain ran from Freedom Square to the Belarusian embassy in Tallinn. Source: Google maps

Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) also took part in the chain on Sunday.

Speaking to the crowd at Freedom Square he said: "We in Estonia know that the Belarusian people deserve freedom. The people - the brave people - of Belarus deserve the right to freely choose their destiny. They have the right to human rights. Therefore, we in Estonia, will stand by you and stand and defend the democratic principals and the territorial integrity of the Belarusian state. Long live the freedom of the Belarusian people."

The Estonian government has said it does not recognise the results of the elections which have been denounced as neither free nor fair by the international community. Estonia has called for new elections to be held.

Last week Estonia and the U.S raised the situation in the country, which has seen security services use force against peaceful protesters and rumors of torture taking place in prisons, at the United Nations Security Council.

President Kersti Kaljulaid has called the current situation in Belarus "deeply disturbing".  Foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) called the crackdown on protestors "unacceptable".

Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu taking part in the human chain in support of Belarusians. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

On Sunday, solidarity chains were also formed in cities across the world, but most notably in Lithuania where thousands of people formed a chain from the capital Vilnius to the Belarusian border. President Gitanas Nauseda and former president Dalia Grybauskaite took part. A chain was also formed in Latvia.

The idea to form solidarity chains in the Baltics on August 23 was inspired by the events on August 23, 1989. On that day, approximately two million people formed a human chain spanning Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia - over 600 km - to demand an end to the Soviet occupation. The event has become known as the Baltic Way or Baltic Chain (Balti kett).

The biggest achievement of the protest campaign was getting the USSR to admit to past crimes. The USSR acknowledged the existence of the 1939 Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and declared it invalid. It was one of the most important steps towards the renewal of independence in the Baltics.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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