2021.01.13 11:46

Lithuania marks January 1991 events amid lockdown restrictions – photos

BNS2021.01.13 11:46

Lithuania is marking the 30th anniversary of the Soviet crackdown in January 1991 on unarmed civilians in Vilnius.

"The people of Lithuania won because they took responsibility at crucial moments and thus proved to be free citizens of an independent democratic state," President Gitanas Nausėda said. "Therefore, January 13 will always remind us that civic power is not, and has never been, fiction. It is real and capable of changing the world."

This year, the anniversary is being marked mostly with virtual events due to the coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Many of the events traditionally held on the eve of January 13 – the lighting of bonfires, a concert and a run through the streets of Vilnius – have been moved to August.

The commemorations began on Wednesday morning with people lighting candles and placing them by their windows.

Read more: January 13, 1991. The night when Lithuania faced Soviet troops – through the eyes of ordinary people

Read more: European Union ‘owes Lithuania's freedom defenders’ – EC president

The traditional commemoration of the January 13 events in the parliament has moved online. A video recording of the celebration and the Freedom Prize award ceremony are being streamed online and broadcasted by the LRT.

The Seimas awarded this year's Freedom Prize to the democratic opposition in Belarus. It was presented to Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a leader of the Belarusian opposition who was forced to flee to Vilnius after the August 9, 2020 presidential election.

Fourteen civilians were killed and hundreds 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 government of Lithuania which declared independence on March 11, 1990.

Lithuania has designated January 13 the Day of Freedom Defenders to honour the victims of the Soviet aggression.

Read more: Occupied but not silenced. January 13, 1991: the night when Soviets stormed LRT