News / Europe

Lithuania Commemorates 20th Anniversary Of Soviet Crackdown

Lithuanians march during a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the  "Battle for the Freedom of Nations" carrying  a 200m long  sash  in the Lithuanian flag colors from the Cathedral Square to the Independence Square in Vilnius, Lithuania, 13 Jan 2011
Lithuanians march during a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the "Battle for the Freedom of Nations" carrying a 200m long sash in the Lithuanian flag colors from the Cathedral Square to the Independence Square in Vilnius, Lithuania, 13 Jan 2011

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +

Lithuania is commemorating the 20th anniversary of a deadly clash with Soviet troops that preceded its independence in 1991. The Baltic nation's president, Dalia Grybauskaite, has urged Lithuanians never to forget the freedom battle, which killed 14 people and injured hundreds, adding that those responsible for the crackdown should be brought to justice.

In the winter of 1991, Soviet forces stormed the capital Vilnius to stop Lithuanians' drive for independence from the Soviet Union, which swallowed up the small Baltic republic on the eve of World War II.

On January 13,  Soviet troops also attacked the Vilnius TV tower, killing more than a dozen unarmed civilians who had been demonstrating for freedom and independence.

Many more were injured in the clash.

Yet, despite the crackdown, Lithuania eventually achieved independence in August 1991.
Now, 20 years later, special ceremonies were held to remember those who died in the battle for freedom.

On Thursday, Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite was among those commemorating the victims at the cemetery where they were buried.

A special military unit, that also included young men born around the time of independence, stood guard nearby.

Elsewhere, participants carried a 200-meter long flag from the main cathedral in Vilnius to the parliamentary building, where lawmakers held a special session.

Speaking in parliament, President Grybauskaite urged Lithuanians and officials of European governments attending the ceremonies never to forget her nation's battle for freedom.

Ms. Grybauskaite says "Freedom was not given as a gift" as Lithuanians "had to fight for it." However she says Lithuania was encouraged by support from the international community in its quest for freedom and independence. Eventually, the president adds, her country "passed the test of history and courage with blazing bonfires and resounding songs of hope..." Yet she warns that these memories of two decades ago should commit everyone to build a Lithuania that people fought for on January 13. A country that is "free, progressive and fair to every citizen."

She also said she still believes that everyone responsible for the crackdown should  
be brought to justice as in her words "there is no limitation for crimes against humanity
and freedom of a nation."

In separate remarks, Lithuania's Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said Russia should pay
compensation to the families of the 14 people killed by the Soviet army.

Moscow has rejected the claims. In a statement, the Russian embassy said that while it shared Lithuania's grief about the fallen, "Russia sees no reason why it should be held responsible for the events of 1991."

Not everyone invited attended Lithuania's commemorations. Top officials from Poland declined invitations to ceremonies Thursday, amid a row between the two countries over Lithuania's treatment of its Polish minority, which demands more linguistic and other rights.

Closer to home the government also faces economic woes. Analysts say that while
Lithuania transformed its economy after regaining independence, it remains one of the poorest nations within  the European Union.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid