Friday marks the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way, when two million people formed a 670-kilometer human chain across Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in a mass protest against the ongoing Soviet occupation. The anniversary is being marked by events throughout Estonia and the Baltics as well as abroad.
The goal of the Baltic Way was to demonstrate to the world Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania's shared desire for freedom as well as to draw attention to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (MRP), the secret protocols of which led to the occupation and annexation of the Baltics by the Soviet Union.
A special program dedicated to the history of the Baltic Way was held at the Museum of the Popular Front in Tallinn's Freedom Square on Friday, which included discussions, recitations of poetry from the "Freedom Spell 2019" poetry contest as well as Latvian and Lithuanian folk music.
Victims remembered in Pilistvere
The Estonian Memento Association also gathered by a memorial to the victims of genocide in the Viljandi County village of Pilistvere, where a prayer of remembrance was led by Pilistvere St. Andrew's Congregation pastor Hermann Kalmus.
Minister of Justice Raivo Aeg (Isamaa) and Estonian Memento Association board chairman Arnold Aljaste both delivered speeches, and awards were presented.
Memento is an umbrella organization uniting the nonprofits and partnerships of victims of the repressions of communist occupying forces. The Estonian Memento Association includes 16 organizations with a total of approximately 2,000 members.
Memorial service held at Victims of Communism Memorial
On Friday afternoon, a memorial service was held at the Victims of Communism Memorial in the Maarjamäe neighborhood of Tallinn.
Minister of Defence Jüri Luik (Isamaa) laid a wreath at the officers' memorial, and Minister of Justice Raivo Aeg (Isamaa), Latvian Ambassador Raimonds Jansons, Lithuanian Ambassador Giedrius Apoukas and Federation of Estonian Student Unions representative Kristel Jakobson gave speeches during the service.
A prayer of remembrance was led by Archbishop of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK) Urmas Viilma.
The Estonian National Male Choir (RAM) also performed under the direction of Mikk Üleoja.
Baltic diaspora recreates human chain in Washington
Members and friends of the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian diasporas celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way in Washington on Friday by forming a miniature Baltic Way on the National Mall, in front of the U.S. Capitol building.
Despite the weather, participants arrived bearing flags and dressed in the Baltic countries' national colors.
The action was aimed at celebrating freedom and stressing the importance thereof to the Baltic states.
Editor: Aili Vahtla