Wednesday, 12 August 2009


Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were incorporated by the Russians into the Soviet Union - in effect, they disappeared off the map, unlike, for example, Hungary or Poland. But this was only the last (hopefully) in a long history of incorporations, invasions, crusades, annexations etc of the three countries stretching back many hundreds of years. Only Lithuania had a spell, in the Middle Ages, of independence and influence as a Grand Duchy which at one time spread as far as the Black Sea. I found that the present peace of independence since 1991, and membership now of both NATO and the EU does not hide a degree of unease in the air there still. Russia seems not to have admitted the horrors of the past in the twentieth century, and events in Georgia and elsewhere do not help. The three young republics are vulnerable and know it, yet historically they are very much part of Europe. I took this photo of a picture in a window in Riga, capital of Latvia showing the Baltic Chain or Way, an event on August 23rd 1989, before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Approximately 2 million people formed a human chain across the three countries 373 miles long. It was to draw the world's attention to what had been happening there, and marked the 60th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, when Russia and Germany agreed to carve up Europe between them.

On a lighter note, my other photo shows the "Kissing Students" a new and charming fountain in the Estonian second city, and university town, of Tartu.

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