Staunton, August 23 – Thirty years ago today, on the 50th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and its secret protocols which led to World War II and the occupation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, two million residents of those three countries joined hands in a Baltic chain extending from Vilnius to Tallinn.
Casting off the fears of the past, those who took part – and they included not only members of the three titular nationalities but ethnic Russians as well – stood facing the east from which their problems had come and shouted “Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!” Almost exactly two years later, they would achieve it de facto in the wake of the failed coup in Moscow.
Commenting on this event on its 30th anniversary, Natalya Frolova, a Russian from Latgale who now works as an Ekho Moskvy correspondent in Lithuania, summed up what happened: “In 1989,” she writes, “hope for independence which always had hung in the air overcome fear” (echo.msk.ru/blog/frolnataly/2487903-echo/