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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Baltics Celebrate Human Chain

TALLINN, Estonia — Baltic residents on Sunday marked the 20th anniversary of a 600-kilometer human chain that showed their wish to regain their independence from the Soviet Union.

“Working together in earlier generations, we were able to restore our independence. We proved that we could stand up for ourselves,” Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves told a crowd Saturday at the start of a run from Tallinn to Riga, Latvia, to commemorate the chain.

Athletes also ran from Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, to Riga, where Latvian President Valdis Zatlers attended a Sunday evening ceremony.

More than 1 million people linked hands in the 1989 chain, which stretched from Tallinn, through Riga, to Vilnius and in some places was several people deep.

The date of Aug. 23, 1989, was chosen as the 50th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, which the Baltic people say led to their occupation by the Soviet Union and rule for 50 years. But Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service countered in a recent report that the pact prevented the Nazi occupation of the Baltics and its transformation into a bridgehead for the attack on the Soviet Union.