Baltic Chain, The

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A Human Chain of Two Million People

On August the 23rd 1989 nearly two million people joined hands to form a human chain, 'The Baltic Chain', which spanned almost 370 miles and 3 countries - the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The Baltic Way marked the 50th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. The pact divided the areas of Eastern Europe into Nazi and Soviet 'spheres of influence' and directly led to the occupation of the Baltic States by the Soviet Union in 1940. The Baltic Way was a call for independence by all three of the Baltic States. The Baltic Way drew much global attention at the time, thereby succeeding in publicizing the Baltic cause and became a symbol of Baltic solidarity. The Baltic Chain was an example of citizen diplomacy that actually succeeded without the use of traditional diplomacy. The effects of the Baltic Way were felt within the year, as Mikhali Gorbachev signed a document condemning the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, and within 7 months of the protest, Lithuania became the first of the Republics of the Soviet Union to declare independence.