28 September 2009
THE BALTIC CHAIN
The Baltic Way or Baltic Chain was a peaceful political demonstration that occurred on August 23, 1989. Approximately two million people joined their hands to form a human chain spanning over 600 kilometres (370 mi) across the three Baltic states – Estonian SSR, Latvian SSR, and Lithuanian SSR, republics of the Soviet Union.
It marked the 50th anniversary of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. The pact and its secret protocols divided Eastern Europe into spheres of influence and led to the occupation of the Baltic states in 1940.
The event was organized by Baltic pro-independence movements: Rahvarinne of Estonia, Popular Front of Latvia, and Sąjūdis of Lithuania.
The protest was designed to draw global attention by showcasing popular desire for independence and solidarity among the Baltic states. It has been described as an effective publicity campaign, emotionally captivating and visually stunning scene.
The event presented an opportunity for the Baltic activists to promote their view of illegal Soviet occupation and position the question of Baltic independence not as a political matter, but as a moral issue. Soviet authorities in Moscow responded to the event with intense rhetoric, but failed to take any constructive actions that could bridge the widening gap between the Baltic states and the Soviet Union.
Within six months from the protest, Lithuania became the first of the Republics of the Soviet Union to declare independence.