Thursday marks Freedom Defender’s Day in Lithuania

January 13 is celebrated in Lithuania as Freedom Defenders Day. On the night of January 12 and 13 in 1991, the Soviet army, trying to overthrow the power of independent Lithuania, stormed the Vilnius TV tower. Fourteen unarmed people protecting the facility died under the tracks of tanks.

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On that night, thousands of Lithuanians gathered at the strategic Vilnius facilities to prevent them from being seized by the Soviet forces. To defend the TV tower, people fell to the ground, creating living barriers in front of the tracks of tanks. 14 people were killed, several dozen were injured by bullets, and several hundred were injured.

The next day, the Lithuanians came in crowds to pay tribute to the dead.

As pointed out by many, these events were a milestone that initiated the collapse of the USSR.

The symbol of the Lithuanian Freedom Defenders Day celebrations is a blue forget-me-not flower. This flower, symbolising the memory of those to whom Lithuania owes its freedom, is attached to clothes, placed on social media and decorates parks, houses and offices.

Lithuania was the first country included in the then USSR, which - on March 11, 1990 - passed the Independence Act.