Three women dissidents who were all imprisoned together in the Soviet prison system in the 1980s were recently reunited for the first time in many years, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported Sunday.
Lagle Parek, told AK that: "When I arrived, I was the thirteenth," in a prison for women dissidents in Mordovia. "Some left, some arrived. But this demonstrates how few of them there were throughout the Soviet Union. I would say, however, that I could thank the Soviet Union for the fact that I got to know such interesting people," she went on.
The three had first planned their reunion to take place at Ikla, on the Estonian-Latvian border, but instead the museum at Häädemeeeste, between the border and Pärnu, was chosen as the venue.
While Parek and Lidija Lasmane, from Latvia, meet frequently, the recent reunion was the first for many years to involve Osipova, who has lived in the US after being released from prison, though had kept in regular contact over the phone.
Parek noted that Pani Lida – Lidija Lasmane – is now 97 and in fact was arrested three times, during Stalin's time, then during the Brezhnev and Andropov regimes respectively.
While the reunion was a happy one it was tinged with sadness over Russia's current war on Ukraine.
Lasmane said: "We are very sad about the war and we really hope for Ukraine's victory, because it simply cannot be otherwise."
Osipova, who was freed on the condition that she and her husband leave the Soviet Union, said: "This is a crime on the part of Russia, it is a crime against Ukraine, and all humanity. It was impossible to conceive that something like this could happen in the 21st century. To organize something like this after all the lessons of the past, it is incomprehensible."
Lagle Parek was arrested in 1983 and sentenced to six years in prison and three years in exile, after various dissident activities including signing an open letter calling for the removal of nuclear weapons from all three Baltic States and publishing Samizdat materials.
Released in 1987, she was a key figure in the Singing Revolution, Estonia's drive towards independence, and was involved in politics both before and after independence – becoming Minister of the Interior under Prime Minister Mart Laar.
Lidija Lasmane was also released in 1987 and returned to Latvia. She was nominated by the Latvian state in 2018 for a Nobel prize.
Editor: Andrew Whyte