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Baltic nations offer ex-Soviet states a Western model

The tiny states of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, having shed their Russian-dominated past and joined the EU and NATO, are looking to help their post-Soviet neighbors to do the same.

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A youth rides high on a skateboard at Cathedral Square in Vilnius, Lithuania. The Baltic states jumped away from Russia; now they want to help others do it, too.

Mindaugas Kulbis/AP/File

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Tiina Lokk knows what it's like to get a neighbor's help when it's needed most.

Years ago, as her native Estonia struggled to right itself after decades of Soviet domination, the country's film industry was in shambles. But thanks to assistance from neighboring Finland and Sweden, Baltic filmmakers rescued their industry.

Today, Ms. Lokk directs the Black Nights Film Festival, the Baltics' biggest such event, held each November. And she makes a point of inviting filmmakers from former Soviet republics (from Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine to Georgia and Uzbekistan) whom she befriended in Moscow in their film-studying days – to help them move on from their Russian-dominated past the way the Scandinavians aided Estonia.

"If you've been helped, you have an obligation to help other countries," says Lokk.

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