Lithuanians Remember Fallen in Fight for Independence

Source: Photo: EBU/ERR

Lithuanians embraced and lit candles to remember the death of 14 people 20 years ago when the Soviet army attacked Vilnius's TV tower.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said in a speech that every country has a day in its history when its willpower is put to the test and the fate of that nation is decided. For Lithuania that day was January 13, 1991.

In the dawn of Baltic independence, the most horrible feeling was the uncertainty of the future, said Cecilija-Rasa Unt, a representative of the Lithuanian community in Estonia. "I remember a very restless night. My relatives' phone rang; they talked in tears that there were tanks in the capital. We were restless and sad, especially because we had no idea what was going on," she said.

Estonia's state minister at the time, Raivo Vare, told ETV that the Baltics were largely saved because in 1991, when the Soviet Union was trying to develop better relations with the West, authorities weren't prepared to see themselves on Western TV screens, as information had begun traveling quickly. After the Lithuanians showed their firmness, Soviet generals hesitated to use the same methods in Tallinn, Riga and Moscow.

Attempting to prevent the collapse of the USSR, Soviet forces also used weapons against people in Georgia  in 1989 and in Azerbaijan in 1990.

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