Tartu landmarks lit up to support Belarusian journalist

Tartu's Arch Bridge.
Tartu's Arch Bridge. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Tartu will light the Arch Bridge (Kaarsild) and Vanemuine Theater in red and white for a week to support arrested journalist Roman Protasevich.

Protasevich and his girlfriend were arrested by the Belarusian authorities on Sunday after they forced a Ryanair flight flying between Greece and Lithuania to land at Minsk Airport.

The red and white flag is used by members of the Belarusian opposition as a symbol of resistance to dictator Alexander Lukashenko instead of the national green and red flag.

Tartu's monuments will be lit up for a week and started last night (May 27).

Mayor of Tartu Urmas Klaas (Reform) said in a statement: "With this step, Tartu wishes to show that democracy and a free press are basic human rights. Unfortunately, many people all over the world have to fight for them every day."

Lemmit Kaplinski (SDE), chairman of the council of Tartu, said Belarusians study and work in the city.

"So it is self-evident for us, as an international university town, to stand up for democratic values and personal freedoms. We unequivocally condemn the gross violation of international law by the current Belarus authorities and call on colleagues around the world to do the same," he said. 

While Riga and Vilnius have flown the red and white flag to show support for Belarus, Tallinn said on Thursday that it will not do so. On Thursday, Estonia's biggest daily paper Postimees colored its masthead red and white in support of Protasevich.

Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who lives in exile in Lithuania, will visit Estonia on Monday.

Stenbock House, the government's seat of power, was also illuminated in red and white on Thursday evening.

"Belarusian authorities hijacking commercial flight to detain a journalist was outrageous, illegal & completely unacceptable. #Estonia stands with the people of #Belarus for human rights, freedom and democracy. Stenbock House – seat of the @EstonianGovt– lits [sic] up to show support," a message on the Estonian Government Twitter page said.

Stenbock House illuminated in red and white on May 27. Source: Stenbock House.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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