2020.08.14 16:14

Lithuania plans human chain from Vilnius to Belarusian border to show solidarity

BNS2020.08.14 16:14

Lithuania’s public figures are calling for a human chain, reminiscent of the 1989 Baltic Way that stretched from Vilnius to Tallinn, to show support to Belarusians facing repressions.

Andrius Tapinas, a public figure and TV host who is behind the initiative, says several tens of thousands of people (re needed for a human chain to be formed from the Cathedral in central Vilnius to the Belarusian border.

"We estimate that we will need some 25,000-30,000 people," Tapinas told BNS on Friday.

Some municipalities are already making transport arrangements, although registration has not been started yet.

Read more: The Baltic Way to independence: 30 years since the landmark human-chain protest

The Vilnius city and district authorities will be asked for necessary permissions on Monday but no problems are expected, Tapinas said.

"Vilnius City has already assured there will be no problems. I think we won’t have any problems with Vilnius District Municipality as well. It’s a clear event, format, a short event, and I believe we should not have any major problems in managing the flows," Tapinas said.

He says he also has information that people in Belarus are planning a similar event and would like to connect symbolically. According to Tapinas, ex-Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė also plans to take part in the event.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda also plans to take part in the demonstration.

"The president will join all initiatives aimed at highlighting the closeness and the sense of community between the people of Lithuania and Belarus," Antanas Bubnelis, the president's spokesman, told BNS on Friday.

The original Baltic Way was a landmark protest on August 23, 1989, when millions of people formed a human chain from Vilnius to Tallinn via Riga to demand independence from the Soviet Union.

In Hong Kong, people also formed a human chain to protest against China's interference.

Read more: Hong Kong turns out in peaceful protest reminiscent of 1989 Baltic Way

Support for Belarusian organisation BY_Help

Several dozen public figures have also initiated a fundraising campaign called "Freedom First. Go, Belarus!" and say they have already collected over 5,500 euros in just several hours since it was launched.

Agnė Zalanskaitė, the initiator of the fundraising campaign, says the money will go to the Belarusian anti-repression organisation BY_Help.

"The organization has been active since 2017. They support families, pay fines for detained people. And now they are collecting donations for medical supplies, transport and communications services," Zalanskaitė told BNS.

A number of well-known Lithuanian people are among the initiators of this campaign, including race driver Bendiktas Vanagas, political scientist Vytis Jurkonis, priests Algirdas Toliatas and Ričardas Doveika, chairman of the Lithuanian Union of Journalists, Dainius Radzevičius, as well as a number of actors, philosophers, journalists, heads of theaters, museums, and other institutions.

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