August 19th, 2020. On August 23rd, 1989, around 2 million Lithuanians, Latvians, and Estonians held each other's hands to form a 600 km long peaceful human chain called the Baltic Way—an act of bravery that foreshadowed the collapse of the Soviet Union two years later. Now, Lithuanian activists are organizing a similar initiative to express the country's solidarity with neighboring Belarus in the fight against the authoritarian regime.
Over 30,000 to Join the Freedom Chain for Belarus
Friday, August 21
Laisves TV—Lithuania's largest online channel—has announced a campaign called the Freedom Chain for Belarus—a human chain that will extend from the Cathedral Square in the capital Vilnius all the way to the border with Belarus. The initiative has attracted tremendous interest with more than 30,000 people signing up over one weekend.
Anyone willing to support Belarus is invited to join the Freedom Chain at 7 PM on August 23rd, on the 31st anniversary of the Baltic Way.
Andrius Tapinas, a Lithuanian public figure and the man behind the initiative, said that Lithuanians understand today's struggle for freedom in Belarus very well—which is why the country must help to achieve it. “It is wonderful to see such support and unity among the people. Volunteer organizations, Vilnius City Municipality, the police, the Lithuanian Riflemen's Union, the Lithuanian National Radio and Television joined us on the first day. When there is such a strong support, everything is possible. And together, we have proven more than once that impossible is just a mindset.”
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda and the former President Dalia Grybauskaite will also join the chain. Other Lithuanian cities are inviting people for local solidarity chains and organizing buses to the main event. Lithuanians in London will also hold hands in a symbolic Freedom Chain in Hyde Park, and Latvians, Estonians and Ukrainians have too expressed their interest in joining the campaign.
Laisves TV will broadcast the event and invite political experts for discussion. An ad hoc app Walk15, available in Lithuanian, English and Belarusian, will mark the routes of the Freedom Chain in all countries.
The historical uprising in Belarus started in early August, when Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled for 26 years, rigged the presidential election and claimed a landslide victory against the opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. The massive protests brought violence to the streets as the riot police used rubber bullets, flash grenades and teargas to maintain control, and many people ended up being beaten or kidnapped in broad daylight. The situation has captured international attention, with the majority of political leaders denouncing the authoritarian regime and asking for a fair election.
About Laisves TV
Laisves TV is an independent online TV channel founded by the journalist and public figure Andrius Tapinas. Supported solely by donations from viewers, Laisves TV has created more than a thousand shows in various formats and genres since its inception in 2016. In 2020, Laisves TV became part of the Laisves Media Group family, which combines two online TV channels, a coworking space, technical filming services and a plethora of meaningful activities and campaigns outside the studio.