Lithuanian MPs pay tribute to victims on eve of 30th anniversary of 1991 Soviet crackdown

  • 2021-01-12
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – In a special resolution passed on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the January 1991 crackdown on protesters in Vilnius, the Lithuanian parliament paid tribute to the victims and underlined that the victory against the Soviet aggression contributed to the collapse of totalitarian regimes in Europe.

MPs also suggesting making January 13, the Day of Freedom Defenders, a public holiday. 

The resolution, drafted by conservative MP Emanuelis Zingeris, was passed on Tuesday with 117 votes in favor, none against and one abstention. 

"This is a great event for the Lithuanian nation," Zingeris said while presenting the resolution. "We won this battle, and the world then reverberated with recognition." 

The resolution reads that the Soviet aggression against the Republic of Lithuania, which restored its independence on March 11, 1990, was repelled in January 1991. 

"January 13 is one of the factors that contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the totalitarian communist regime, to the consolidation of democracy and human rights in the post-Soviet space, and to the return of Central and Eastern European countries to the family of democratic European nations," it says.

January 13 is a reminder to all generations of Lithuanians that freedom was won by blood, according to the document. 

The resolution denounces propaganda and disinformation activities aimed at "belittling Lithuania's independence and the memory of freedom defenders, and distorting history and inciting ethnic hatred." 

The document condemns Russian authorities' decision to prosecute Lithuanian judges, prosecutors and investigators in the January 13 case.

In March 2019, Vilnius Regional Court convicted former Soviet Defense Minister Dmitry Yazov and more than 60 other former Soviet officials and military officers of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The majority of them were handed prison sentences in absentia.

Fourteen civilians were killed and more than 800 more were injured when the Soviet troops stormed the TV Tower and the Radio and Television Committee building in Vilnius in the early hours of January 13, 1991.

The Soviet Union used military force in its attempt to remove the legitimate government of Lithuania which declared independence on March 11, 1990.