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Thousands form human chain in Lithuania in solidarity with Belarus

People hold hands, historical white-red-white flags of Belarus and flowers as they participate in a "Freedom Way"
People hold hands, historical white-red-white flags of Belarus and flowers as they participate in a "Freedom Way"   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis
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Tens of thousands of people joined hands forming a human chain from Vilnius to Medininkai in Lithuania, as a show of solidarity with Belarusians fighting for democracy in their country.

Dubbed the Freedom Way, it was just one event out of many taking place in around 30 countries in support of Belarus, following the disputed re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko, who some have called the last dictator in Europe.

The Freedom Way stretched 32 kilometres from the capital Vilnius to a memorial on the Belarusian border.

It took place on the anniversary of the Baltic Way, August 23 1989, which saw more than a million people form a human chain across Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as people campaigned for an end to the Soviet occupation.

AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis
Around 50,000 people took part in the show of solidarityAP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis

On the Freedom Way chain, many wore white, held Lithuanian and Belarusian flags and held flowers, while ten air balloons flew above the procession, with motorbikes and cyclists forming a column on the road.

One person present was the Lithuanian foreign minister, who told Euronews “we are not going to replace the government”.

“The least we can do is just to express moral support, and to show solidarity,” said Linas Linkevicius.

One protester called Karina from Belarus said: “I’m very thankful for Lithuanians, we have a lot of friends who support us, they came with us. They support us in a way that no one even could in Belarus, so I’m thankful they organised this.”

Lukashenko has been accused by multiple independent observers of rigging the August 9 election, which saw him win a sixth consecutive term in office with, according to the state elections body, an overwhelming majority. His main opponent meanwhile fled the country to Belarus.

Protests were met with force by Belarusian police, who arrested thousands. There were accusations that peaceful protesters were beaten and tortured in detention.