Remember the Date: On 13 January 1991 Soviet forces attempted to suppress Lithuanian independence

On 13 January 1991 14 died and hundreds were injured in Vilnius when Soviet troops attempted to crush the Lithuanian independence movement. Today, 13 January is Freedom Defenders Day in Lithuania in tribute to those who died.


RFE/RL: In the early hours of January 13, 1991, hundreds of Lithuanians headed to the TV tower in Vilnius, where they would make a stand against Soviet troops deployed to crush the Baltic state’s bid to reclaim independence. More than a dozen died, and hundreds were wounded. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the subsequent collapse of communist satellite regimes in Eastern Europe made it clear that Moscow’s power was waning, and the Soviet Union would in fact dissolve by the end of 1991. Months before that — but only after the Vilnius bloodshed in January — Moscow would recognize the independence of the Baltic nations. Lithuania has designated January 13 as Freedom Defenders Day, paying tribute to the unarmed civilians who stood down Soviet forces in Vilnius.

See also: Marek Grzegorczyk, ‘Lithuania remembers January 13, 1991,’ Emerging Europe, 13 January 2021

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