Russia looms in background as Pope preaches solidarity in Baltics
Pope Francis will carry a message of solidarity to the Baltic nations on a visit starting today, nearly 30 years after they broke away from the Soviet Union and as they look warily towards a newly aggressive Russia.
The four-day trip is the first by a pope to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia since 1993 and, a quarter of a century on, the countries are members of Nato and the eurozone. But the past still looms large in a region subject in turn to Soviet and Nazi oppression and where religious persecution left a traumatic legacy.
In Lithuania, where he starts his trip, Francis will visit the Vilnius Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights, a former Soviet KGB prison where hundreds were murdered and thousands, including many priests, shipped off to Siberia.