image: Drawing made by a child presenting brutal Russian aggression and heroic defenders of freedom. This drawing was part of exposition presented at the museum in the TV tower in Vilnius. Photo: ©Honorary Consulate of Lithuania in Limburg
By Beata Bruggeman-Sekowska
On the 13th of January, Freedom Defenders’Day is celebrated in Lithuania to commemorate victims of the Soviet military aggression of 1991.
The candle, as symbol of the memory, today is lit across Lithuania and by the Lithuanian communities abroad.
On 13 January 1991 armoured Soviet forces drove through peaceful crowd which gathered to protect the symbol of Lithuania’s independence – the Vilnius TV Tower.
Television tower and crosses which commemorate the victims of brutal Soviet aggression, ©communications-unlimited.nl
Soviet tanks crushed the victims and shot them to death. 14 innocent people died and more than 500 unarmed civilians were injured.
At a museum on the ground floor of the tower which is devoted to the freedom fighters you can find the photos of the victims murdered by the communists. Loreta Asanavičiūtė, the only woman, 24-year-old, was run over by a Soviet tank and later died in hospital. The streets around the TV tower are named after the victims. ©communications-unlimited.nl
Photos from the burial of the victims of the Soviet aggression taken at the museum in the TV tower, ©communications-unlimited.nl
Lithuania had re-established independence in 1990. At the beginning of 1991, Moscow requested the restoration of the Soviet constitution. Moscow also expected that Lithuania would give up its independence. On January 13, 1991, Soviet forces tried to regain power but they failed. After these terrible days, referendum was held in which the population confirmed that they wanted to be independent from the Soviet Union. Moscow did not recognize the referendum. However, it was recognized worldwide after a failed coup attempt by communist hardliners in Moscow in August of 1991.
Drawing made by a child presenting brutal Russian aggression and heroic defenders of freedom. This drawing was part of exposition presented at the museum in the TV tower in Vilnius. Photo: ©Honorary Consulate of Lithuania in Limburg
Watch a documentary by the Lithuanian Public TV below. The video shows images of communist brutality and therefore there is an age limitation. This documentary is dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the tragic events. The witnesses of the events of those days share their memories in the film which also presents a unique material from the archives. The documentary was made by film and video studio “A Propos” in 2001. Film directors: R.Rakauskaitė, D. Ulvydas. Script writers: R.Rakauskaitė, D. Ulvydas. Camera: A.Reneckis, D.Vildžiūnas. Composer: P.Vyšniauskas.
Photos: © communications-unlimited.nl and Honorary Consulate of Lithuania in Limburg
Sources: DW and Communications-Unlimited.nl
Author: Beata Bruggeman-Sękowska is an award-winning international journalist, TV correspondent, author, chief editor of international journalism centre, Central and Eastern Europe Centre, president of the European Institute on Communist Oppression and a sworn translator. She was born in Warsaw, Poland and has also Armenian blood and roots in Lvov, which is part of Ukraine. She has been living in Heerlen, the Netherlands since 2005.