By Alya Shandra
On August 23, 75 years after the tragedy of Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and on the 25th anniversary of the Baltic Way liberation action, people in Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Ukraine, and Georgia joined hands in a symbolic action comemmorating those killed in the war, murdered in Nazi and Communist concentration camps, those crushed physically and spiritually, and “in order to show the aggressor that the way of freedom is what they have chosen forever,” as the event’s page in FB states.
“The spirit of unity and freedom never disappeared from Europe. It is in us and we are strong, because united we stand. The way of our freedom is going to last forever and we will never be enslaved again. Everyone in that chain, each nation and each and every individual was important to its success.”
Rallies took place in Tbilisi, Kyiv, Kharkiv, Vilnius, Riga.
More photos are available on FB and twitter under the hashtag #WayOfFreedom.
The rally in Tbilisi was initiated by the United National Movement, Georgia’s main opposition and former ruling party, but joined by people distanced from politics as well. The participants also called upon the Government of Georgia to clearly condemn Russia’s actions in Ukraine – Georgia’s strategic partner. The Government – believed to be still dominated by billionaire and former PM Bidzina Ivanishvili – has come across both domestic and international criticism for refusing to condemn or even comment on these actions. Recently, the government also declined an offer to host Ukrainian children from the conflict-affected areas for rehabilitation.
“We call upon the Government, in strongest possible terms, to clearly condemn Putin’s actions. The choice is very simple. Either we stand with the civilized world or with the enemies of that world. There is no other choice,” Giga Bokeria, one of UNM’s leaders said.
On 23 August 1989, 2 million people holding hands united into one 600-kilometer chain of between the capitals of the Baltic countries, Vilnius, Riga, and Tallinn in protest against the division of Europe and occupation of the Baltic states. This event took place on the 50th anniversary of the secret protocol known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact signed between Stalin’s USSR and Hitler’s Germany. The pact divided Europe into spheres of influence between Germany and the USSR, led to World War II and to the occupation of the three Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
“Today, as never before in the last 25 years, wish of the aggressor to split, occupy and repress free and democratic countries of the Eastern Europe is once again widely felt. Crimea is already enslaved, Eastern Ukraine slowly liberates but aggressor still can marsh further into Europe,” – event organizers.
In times when Ukraine is suffering Russian aggression that has grown from covert support for terrorists operating in Ukraine’s East to a direct invasion of Ukraine, the international support for Ukraine shown in this action gives particular hope. The Baltic Way of Freedom branched out and sprouted leaves of freedom throughout the entire USSR and even beyond it. It brought together the people of Baltic countries who after the Second World War had been forced into exile with the people who remained in their native land. It restored dignity to the citizens of Baltic States, who fell victim to the 1939 Nazi and Communist secret pact. It proved that even after half a century of lies truth can be revived and win out.
The countries taking part in this action, having themselves suffered from Russian aggression, are notorious for their support for Ukraine nowadays.