Tuesday, 12 August 2014 01:43

Global media reaction to the Baltic Way

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The Baltic Way was a major media event all across the globe. Hundreds of journalists were filming the Baltic Way and it was broadcasted by all major news channels of the world.

News agency Reuters was one of the first to report from the Baltic Way, claiming that the action had gathered around 700 000 people from Estonia, 500 000 from Latvia and 1 000 000 from Lithuania.

The Los Angeles Times wrote that "hundreds of thousands of people, some singing outlawed national anthems and others with candles wrapped in black ribbon, joined hands across the Baltic republics” in a historic demonstration “demanding greater freedom from Moscow” (Masha Hamilton, “Thousands Join Hands in Baltic States Protest”, The Los Angeles Times, 24 August 1989).

The Washington Post quoted a declaration issued in the name of the demonstrators that denounced the Soviet Union as "a colonial power" and called for the restoration of the "independent statehood”. (Michael Dobbs, “Baltic States Link in Protest `So Our Children Can Be Free';`Chain' Participants Decry Soviet Takeover", The Washington Post, 24 August 1989).

According to The Boston Globe, the event was a stirring one -- and one that would have been impossible just a year ago  (“Baltic Chain”, The Boston Globe, 25 August 1989).

In UK, The Independent called the Baltic peoples “victims par excellence,” evoked their place in Europe by referring to the Hanseatic League, and wrote of the “deeply spiritual” feel of the Balts’ “bid for freedom.” “Three-deep they stood, old and young, almost all carrying a votive candle tied with a black ribbon” […] “The dignity of it all was astonishing,” wrote Rupert Cornwell. (Rupert Cornwell, “Human Chain Stands up to Soviet Union,” The Independent, 24 August 1989).

In Canada, The Globe and Mail described a prevailing mood in Tallinn where “password for the evening” was freedom. The demonstration was depicted as awesome (“one of the largest mass demonstrations ever seen in the Soviet Union”) and an expression of nearly universal popular will. (Matthew Fisher, “2 million Balts form human chain to mourn 50 years of Soviet rule,” The Globe and Mail 24  August 1989).

Some more quotations:

“Two million link hands in protest over the Kremlin's iron rule” (“Hands of Hope”, Daily Mail, 24 August, 1989).

“Yesterday's 400-mile-long human chain dramatically symbolised the shared passion for freedom of the Baltic peoples.” (“Crumbling empire”, Daily Express, 24 August 1989).

“...human chain stretching 370 miles through Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in protest against the secret 1939 pact between Germany and the USSR which gave control of the Baltic states to the USSR; and to demand more autonomy.”  (“Joining hands across the Baltic states”, The Times, 24 August 1989).


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