Fire commemorating 1991 Barricades lit in Riga Cathedral Square

  • 2020-01-20
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - About a hundred people participated today in an event in Riga Cathedral Square commemorating the 1991 Barricade Days, LETA observed.

A commemorative fire was lit in the presence of Saeima Chairwoman Inara Murniece (National Alliance), Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity), Defense Minister Artis Pabriks (For Development/For), Former Latvian Popular Front Chairman Romualds Razuks, Chief of Defense Leonids Kalnins, National Security Council Secretary Janis Kazocins, Interior Minister Sandis Girgens (KPV LV), Defense Ministry's Parliamentary Secretary Martins Stakis (For Development/For), several Saeima deputies, Youth Guard and Home Guard members, participants in the 1991 Barricade Days.

Later today, commemorative events will take place in Riga Second Forest Cemetery, 1991 Barricade Days Museum, Freedom Monument, Bastejkalns, Saeima Building, and conclude with a concert in Riga Cathedral at 7 p.m.

As reported, the Barricades, organized by the Popular Front of Latvia and built and manned by patriots from all regions of Latvia, were a unique example of non-violent protest.

Construction of the barricades in Riga began in the evening of January 13, 1991. The objective was to defend the building of the Supreme Council, the Television Tower, bridges over the Daugava River, and other objects of strategic importance. The Soviet special forces unit OMON took action on January 16. Roberts Murnieks, a driver working at the Ministry of Transport, was shot dead as the OMON attacked Vecmilgravis Bridge.

The bloodiest events were on January 20 when OMON attempted to assault the Interior Ministry's building. Five people were killed: schoolboy Edijs Riekstins, two police officers - Vladimirs Gomonovics and Sergejs Kononenko, and Riga Film Studio cameramen Andris Slapins and Gvido Zvaigzne.