On Wednesday, Latvia marked the 30-year anniversary of the 1991 events known as the Barricades, when thousands of people came out in support for independence following the Soviet crackdown in Vilnius.
At 04:45 on January 13, 1991, hours after Soviet aggression that left 14 people dead in Vilnius, Latvia’s leaders called for people to set up barricades to protect strategic buildings in Riga and other towns and cities across the country.
The same day, more than half a million protested against the violence in Vilnius and in support of Latvia’s independence. Seven people were killed on January 20, most of them when the Soviet troops stormed the Latvian Interior Ministry.
Though this year no gathering can take place, candles and bonfires were lit to commemorate the victims and the events of January 1991, according to the Latvian public broadcaster LSM.
“We are grateful to the democratic movement in Russia and elsewhere in the former USSR for the support at that time and stand in solidarity with them today,” Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs tweeted on Wednesday.
Latvia declared independence from the Soviet Union on May 4, 1990.