Lithuanians form human chain to back democracy in Belarus

MEDIKINNAI, Lithuania (AP) — More than 50,000 Lithuanians joined hands Sunday in a human chain stretching 32 kilometers (20 miles) from the capital of Vilinus to the Belarus border to express solidarity with their neighbor’s dramatic struggle for democracy.

The massive event, dubbed “the Freedom Way” resembled another historic event on August 23, 1989, when over a million people in the nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania formed the Baltic Way, a human chain stretching from Vilnius to Tallinn, to demand an end to the Soviet occupation.

The message Sunday was similar: The people of Belarus deserve elections that are free, fair and democratic.

“Thirty years ago, Lithuania broke its shackles of oppression, showing the world that we are free and, first of all, free in our spirit. Today, the time has come for our Belarusian brothers to say the dear word ‘freedom,’” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said.

He was one of many prominent Lithuanians who joined the event, along with former presidents Valdas Adamkus and Dalia Grybauskaite, diplomats and military officers from dozens of countries.

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