ERR News – Countless flags – and drinking glasses – were raised across Estonia on August 20, in honor of Re-Independence Day, the natio-nal holiday marking the day in 1991 when the country officially broke away from Moscow after nearly a half century of Soviet rule.
On August 20 of that year, with Soviet special forces troops surrounding the Tallinn TV Tower and an attempted coup d’état taking place in Russia, Estonia’s then legislature, the Supreme Soviet, proclaimed the restoration of the country’s independence.
The TV Tower, which the Soviet forces stormed the following day but famously failed to shut down, was this year hosting one of the holiday’s larger public events.
From 10am to 5pm, the tower grounds were the site of a Family Day that included games and activities for child-ren, a weapons exhibition by the Defense League, folk dancing, orchestral music and several Red Cross workshops. One of the highlights of the program was the Rescue Board’s demonstration of putting out a fire using water.
The above events were free of charge, but able-bodied vi-sitors willing to buy a five-euro ticket could also opt for the stair-walking excursion up into the tower itself.
Meanwhile, in the center of the capital on Harjumägi, the mayors of Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius presided over the dedication of a memorial stone in honor of another key component of the independence movement, the Baltic Chain (also sometimes known as Baltic Way).
In that peaceful demonstration, held on August 23, 1989, about 2 million people linked hands to form a human chain from Tallinn to Vilnius to mark the 50th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact bet-ween Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union – an agreement that led to the occupation of the Baltic countries in 1940.
The Baltic Chain memorial stone is one of three created by Lithuanian sculptor Gitenis Umbrasas, each making its home in one of the Baltic ca-pitals.
No doubt the mood shifted to a different type of nostalgia late in the evening, when British pop legend Robbie Williams lighted up the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds on his “Take The Crown” stadium tour.
In the nation’s intellectual and spiritual capital of Tartu, the largest musical celebrations were far more homespun and also started earlier – already on Monday evening – with a night-time singing festival called Järjepidevus at that city’s own song festival grounds.
A total of 43 choirs were participating, as were well-known musical groups The Sun, Ultima Thule, Pantokraator, Justament, Jäääär, Mahavok, Rosta Aknad, Singer Vinger and Jääboiler, according to uudised.err.ee.
For its part, Narva marked Estonian re-independence with a free concert at the Geneva Center by the Narva Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Anatoly Schura.
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