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2017.02.17 10:35

Lithuania celebrates 99th anniversary of Restoration of State

Algirdas Acus 2017.02.17 10:35

Modern Lithuania marked its 99th birthday, on Thursday, while Lithuanian business tycoon offered 1 million euros for the original Independence Act of February 1918, lost in the beginning of Soviet occupation.

‘We cannot take our freedom for granted’, said one of the participants who commemorated the 99th anniversary of Independence by marching to the House of Signatories, where Council of Lithuania declared independence, in the end of the World War I.
 

The Council had to manoeuvre carefully between the demands of German authorities that occupied the western part of our country and Russian empire, which ruled Lithuanian territory since the end of 18th century.
 

The original of the Act was lost, in 1940, at the time that Soviets occupied Lithuania.
 

‘They interrupted our independence, but Lithuania stood up,’ said Monika Gavėnaitė who was among those awarded state decorations by the President, for her merit during the period of resistance.
 

The annual ceremony is part of traditional commemorative events, but this year one of the richest Lithuanian businessmen stood out by offering 1 million euros to those who can find the original Act of Independence.
 

‘We want to meet the centenary by providing a commercial, material stimulus in order to motivate society. Maybe the Act is preserved in some private collections or archives, and there is no motivation to look for it’, said Darius Mockus, President of the MG Baltic concern.
 

If the Act will be found, Mockus promised to present it to the State as a gift. The search for the whereabouts of the Act will last until 16th February 2018, when Lithuania will mark its centenary of the independence.
 

Among other popular commemorative events were as well the traditional ceremony of hoisting the flags of the three Baltic States and stretching a special long flag around the Gediminas Castle tower. 16 symbolic bonfires were lit on central Gediminas Avenue, in the evening.

People walking towards the House of Signatories where Independence had been proclaimed
 

Sound bite (Lithuanian), vox pop, man:

It shows that in our hearts we have self-confidence and quite a lot of courage.
 

Sound bite (Lithuanian), vox pop, woman:

Not so much time has passed, and still anything could happen, so we need to commemorate this date as we cannot take freedom for granted.
 

Sound bite (Lithuanian), vox pop, man:

The nation is uniting as there are new threats emerging. The celebration unites people.
 

House of Signatories where Independence was proclaimed
 

Sound bite (Lithuanian)

DALIA GRYBAUSKAITĖ, President of Lithuania:

We can learn from our February 16th . Back then and now new lines were drawn in the world. But back then Lithuania was like a sprout in a spring that had just erupted after the ice of occupation. Modern Lithuania is almost a one-hundred-year old oak, and we are all are proud of it.
 

Annual state award ceremony at the Presidential palace
 

Sound bite (Lithuanian)

MONIKA GAVĖNAITĖ, member or resistance during the Soviet occupation:

Soviets were alien to us. They interrupted our independence, but Lithuania stood up.
 

Evening talk-show on Wednesday, when a 1-million prize has been offered for the original Act of Independence
 

Sound bite (Lithuanian)

DARIUS MOCKUS, President of the MG Baltic concern:

We want to meet the centenary by providing a commercial, material stimulus in order to motivate society. The Act may be preserved in some private collections or archives, and there are is no motivation to look for it. We want to stimulate this process and make it open for all possible opportunities.