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

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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid