bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Sunday 21.01.2018 | Name days: Agne, Agnese, Agnija
LithuaniaLithuania

Lithuania on January 13, 1991: what if Soviets had seized power that night?

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

As Lithuania is commemorating the solemn 25th anniversary of the massacre on January 13, 1991, when 14 innocent defenders of Vilnius Television Tower were crushed to death by the Soviet tanks, few have ever given a thought on how different the path of the fledgling state would have been if the Soviet troops had seize power in Vilnius that night.

Would it have marked a new indefinite period of occupation and repressions? How much longer and steeper would the path to freedom have been?

Emphasis of State Defence Plan on massive non-cooperation

Andrius Butkevičius, deputy of Lithuania’s Supreme Council-Restoration Seimas during 1990-1992, the first Defence Minister and a key figure in Lithuania’s Interim Defence Command in charge of organization of state defence in 1990-1991, told BNN that most mistakenly tend to relate the-then state’s defence with the Supreme Council’s defence when speaking of the tragic night.

«Certainly, the focus then was on some key objects, the building of Supreme Council including, but we had drawn up an extensive defence plan in case of the nation’s new annexation before January 13, 1991. Its emphasis was on engagement of as a large mass of people in resistance against the Soviets as possible. We called it a single massive non-cooperation action that had to be coordinated from a Lithuanian government in exile had the Soviets seized power in the country during the tumultuous times,» Butkevičius told.

A single Soviet tank or plenty of them in a square do not suffice to exercise authority on the population, he underlined.

«In order to impose rule on a state a whole lot more than military might needs to be employed. People must either fear or respect authority that governs them, assist and collaborate with it. The nation back in the 1990s was already flying high on the spirit of freedom. For any aggressor, it would have been extremely hard or impossible to quench and root it out from the peoples’ consciousness,» the first Defence minister of restored state now believes.

Even if the Supreme Council had been occupied and all the deputies and Government members had been driven out, it would have not meant an end to the state, Butkevičius insisted.

«Anticipating that all the events can take a very dangerous turn and facing possibly new occupation of the state, we had formed an interim government that was supposed to operate in exile. In case of a state emergency, Vytautas Landsbergis, the chairman of Supreme Council- Restoration Seimas, Danutė Prunskienė, the Prime Minister, and Algirdas Saudargas, the Foreign Affairs minister, had to be swiftly transported to Poland to operate from there. We had hammered out agreement on that with the-then Polish Government,» remembered Butkevičius, a defence expert now consulting Ukraine.

Western journalists were an enormous force

Being one of the spearheads of the defence plan and one of its chief executioners, Butkevičius had a special mission in the scheme: boost the nation’s morale through global media networks in the West. Government members in exile, societal leaders and political friends in the West had to psyche up Lithuanians through the means of communication for a full-scale all-involving resistance, a

«The plan envisioned that, in case of new annexation, we would exert all possible efforts in getting the Western media’s full attention. Therefore the Western journalists covering events in Lithuania were seen as nuggets in the plan. They were granted entry to Lithuania by the Soviet secret service, KGB, but it had no means to affect what the journalists were shown in Lithuania, or what they would air from here. Those continuous TV coverages, especially live broadcasts by the biggest Western television networks like CNN and BBC have proved to be an enormous force in sending out a very powerful message to the West and the societies,» Butkevičius emphasized.

He says the Soviets were very perplexed not being able to do anything about that.

«There was Mikhail Gorbachev in Russia and they did not dare to go to extreme lengths in cordoning Lithuania off from foreign journalists. With the journalists blasting the Soviet system and heralding our striving of freedom, power was slipping off the KGB hands every day, every minute,» he noted. «Before the tragic night of January 13, the West had been rallying about Gorbachev, but after the night, there was quite a new situation: the West turned its back to him and fully embraced the Baltic nation and its quest for freedom. That was a defining moment.»

Tanks were a means of intimidation

Asked whether the Soviets would have run tanks against the peaceful demonstrators in the square at the Supreme Council, the defence analyst told that a «comprehensive package of military measures» would have likely been used if there had been a command to attack the Lithuanian Parliament.

«It is hard to tell how far aggressor would have gone. I reckon that the rattling tanks in proximity of the Parliament served as a means of intimidation first of all,» the analyst ponders today.

«Soviet generals assessing what was going on in Vilnius had to deal with a mind-blowing phenomenon: the people in the square were not frightened by the tanks. Aware and wary of a big toll of casualties had the tanks proceeded onto the square full of people, the planners must have considered a variety of softer measures first of all, the defence analyst believes.

“It could include immense psychological pressure, use of tear gas and et cetera. The tanks would have been employed too in making the way to the heavily-reinforced Parliament,» Butkevičius is convinced.

Using tanks, it was inevitable to avoid multiple casualties, which would have dealt the Soviets a devastating blow on the international arena.

«As far as I know, the Soviets’ plan to occupy the Parliament included meticulously calculated synchronic foray of paratroopers into the building through the underground communication network and the roof,» Butkevičius said.

Ukraine’s path to freedom is similar to Lithuania’s

Personally in charge of Supreme Council’s chairman Vytautas Landsbergis, Butkevičius reveals now he had laid out a special plan for his and Prime Minister Danutė Prunskienė’s retreat in case the Parliament is occupied.

«But both of them refused to follow it. It foresaw their transportation to Poland using Lithuanian aviation. I do not want to go into details now as far as what type of aviation transport had to be used for the purpose, but the plan was real and feasible,» Butkevičius asserted.

One of the fulcrums of the restored state’s defence now spends most of his time in Ukraine consulting the Government on defence issues.

«The situation we see in Ukraine is pretty much analogous to that we had in the early 1990s. Like us, Ukrainians used civil disobedience-based techniques in overthrowing the Viktor Yanukovych regime. Like us, they shed off their blood on the way to freedom, but, again a similarity, it has been gained with a loss of life that, under other circumstances, would have been much bigger,» former Defence minister believes.

Massive tear gas attack was most plausible

Darius Petrošius, a Lithuanian MP and chairman of the Lithuanian Parliament’s Commission for Parliamentary Scrutiny of Operative Activities (CPSOA), believes that no repeated annexation of Lithuania would have quashed the spirit of freedom.

«Sąjūdis (Lithuania’s national movement for change in the late 1980s and early 1990s-L.J) was an extremely powerful force that even the ubiquitous special Soviet services could not reign in. It they had succeeded in seizing the Parliament that tragic night, I don’t think they would have retained power for long. The yearning for freedom and independence was too big to quell it,» Petrošius told BNN.

He says he finds it hard even today to accept the idea of Soviet tanks could have been sent to the Parliament square.

«It’s hard to speculate what the hostile forces had planned, but I reckon that a more plausible scenario of occupying the Parliament could have been this: special paratrooper units might have been ordered to enter the building with a simultaneous massive tear gas attack used to clear the square.
Perhaps some acoustic attacks could be used too to disperse the people, too. The tanks, of course, would have been employed too, but, again, I find it hard to believe they could roll onto the people. Remember, all the Western TV cameras were zeroing in on what was going in the square.»

And if the combat vehicles had proceeded onto the crowd, numbers of lost life could reach hundreds.

«I’d say that we would have not found out the real scope of casualties. It would not have reflected in any statistics then,» the parliamentarian is convinced.

Spirit of freedom was flying too high

Alvydas Ziabkus, journalist of daily «Lietuvos Rytas», also believes that, at the end of the day, Lithuania would have come out victorious against the crumbling Soviet Union.

«Freedom might have waited longer, but the quest for it could not be stifled. Especially after the August coup (In August 1991, Soviet hardliners futilely attempted to overthrow Mikhail Gorbachev, Secretary General of the Communist Party, in a desperate attempt to save the collapsing Soviet Union-L.J),» Ziabkus told BNN.

Administratively, he says the Soviets have taken over key sites and symbols of power in Vilnius and Lithuania, but the spirit of freedom had encompassed too a big mass of people, so to get it out of the people’s minds and hearts was an impossible task.

«I believe the way how the hostile troops could be acting on the premises of the Lithuanian Parliament could be similar to the way the Soviet army acted at the Russian Parliament during coup against Gorbachev in August of 1991.

«There were shots, skirmishes and a few casualties there with the military’s indecisiveness lingering in the air. But Vilnius, I reckon, was at a bigger risk, because some of the generals, farther from Moscow, could act on their own then,» Ziabkus believes.

Ref: 020/111.111.111.3112


Leave a reply

Economist: the most important reform has to happen in people’s heads

«Of all the clever things taught to us in school about psychology, one thing that has stuck with me over the years is the idea of internal/external control point. There are people who believe they make their own fate. There are also people who believe our fate depends on external powers. I suspect people in Latvia explain successes and failures with external factors much more than people in Switzerland or any other country that has enjoyed its freedom longer than Latvia,» comments Luminor Bank’s economist Pēteris Strautiņš.

Minister promises bigger wages for working people and support for country’s industry

«Latvian Economy Ministry’s priorities for 2018 include increasing wages for working people and providing support to the country’s industry. For Latvia’s centenary year, every resident should have the right to experience the increase of the personal and state welfare,» promises Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens.

Latvenergo: electricity price has declined 30% in the past three years

Average electricity price in Latvia has declined in recent years. The average price of electricity has declined by 30% at Nord Pool exchange between 2014 and 2017, allowing end user costs to decline, says Latvenergo.

Alcohol sellers in Estonia to be checked by little «police»

To find shop assistants illegally selling alcohol or tobacco to minors, Estonian police introduces the method of sending minors as police aides to retail shops to try to purchase the products banned to them.

EY study: cyber security has become a priority to banks this year

Over the course of the year, priorities of banks around the world have switched from reputation and risk management to data security matters, as concluded in the latest EY Global Banking Outlook 2018.

Political association: UGF and Harmony are covering up state capture

«Parliamentary investigation of Oligarchs case has shown what is what in the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia. Green farmers are in full harmony, covering up Aivars Lembergs and the fact of state capture. They and Inguna Sudraba have made the parliamentary investigation into a farce. Unfortunately, the power in those people’s hands is no farce – rather misfortune for all of Latvia. I hope citizens will take all that into account when they go voting,» says leader of Kustība Par! Daniels Pavļuts.

Tallinn-Helsinki tunnel plan lacks ambition, says «Angry Birds» game maker

While Finland and Estonia work on plans of an under-sea tunnel from Tallinn to Helsinki, the construction of which could start in the 2030s, a Finnish businessman, previously involved in development of Angy Birds video game, has presented plans to finish the massive construction project in 2024 already.

Experts: healthcare financing law will deny healthcare to the least protected

In a discussion regarding healthcare, experts said that Latvian President Raimonds Vējoņis’ proposed Healthcare Financing Law is economically unjustified and ineffective. The document lacks principles of a socially responsible state, because healthcare is becoming less accessible, which will likely worsen public health indexes, says Kustība Par! political party.

Branded «aggressor state», Russia says Ukraine buries Minsk peace agreements

As the Donbas War continues, the parliament of Ukraine has passed the so-called Donbas reintegration bill after three days of debates defining territories controlled by pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country as temporarily occupied by Russia.

Weather to remain winter-like in Latvia during the weekend and next week

On Friday and Saturday, no major increase of snow is expected. Air temperature will increase slightly, but colder masses of air will slow into the country on Sunday, as reported by Latvian State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Winter storm in Netherlands and Germany turns tragic

A powerful winter storm in western and central Europe has claimed the lives of eight people.

Lithuanian bishops: skipping fasting on February 16 this year is not a sin

In an unprecedented move, the Conference of Lithuanian Bishops, the governing body of the Lithuanian Catholic Church, said that meat dishes okay for the people of faith on February 16, which marks the 100-year anniversary of Lithuania's statehood and the Lent Friday, which is traditionally a day of fasting for religious Catholic people.

Coincidence? Votes from Harmony and UGF ensure Sudraba remains the head of Oligarchs case committee

On Thursday, 18 January, the majority of Saeima members voted against the proposal to dismiss Inguna Sudraba from the post of the head of parliamentary investigative committee in charge of the review of the infamous Oligarchs case.

Kaljulaid criticised over involvement of acclaimed, but unrestrained director in centennial reception

As Estonia readies for the presidential reception to honour the 100th anniversary of Estonia, its President Kersti Kaljulaid is being criticised in an open letter for trusting Tallinn’s NO99 theatre, whose director physically assaulted a female colleague.

22.1% of Latvia’s residents subjected to risk of poverty

In 2017, 425 thousand persons or 22.1 % of Latvia population were at risk of poverty in 2016 – 0.3 percentage points less than in 2015. Equivalent income of this part of the population were below 330 euros monthly.

LAAC: Latvia’s milk market can be sorted out by joining forces in exports

Latvian Association of Agricultural Cooperatives (LAAC) has received support and praise for the public discussion regarding rapid milk procurement price changes, which is something that has recently affected the majority of agricultural cooperatives. This has helped cooperatives band together in order to sort out the milk market. This idea came from the example set by grain producer cooperatives, which did the same thing fifteen years ago, as reported by the association’s representatives.

Forevers announces its decision to exit from Latvian Federation of Food Companies

Forevers meat processing company has decided to exit from Latvian Federation of Food Companies (LFFC). The contract between two parties will be terminated in January.

Saeima’s Oligarchs case investigative committee hastily approves final report

In spite of objections, grammatical errors, criticisms about lacking effort, as well as Inguna Sudraba’s unfit status to lead the committee, members decided to move the meeting from 11:00 to 08:00 and approve the final report in a rushed vote.

Removal of 1 and 2 euro cent coins from circulation suggested by Bank of Estonia

Estonian central bank is willing to follow the eurozone trend of limiting the circulation of euro 1-cent and 2-cent coins and in time to remove them entirely from circulation in the Baltic country.

Cert.lv: attacks on e-health system and LETA were likely ordered

Attacks on e-health system and LETA agency were likely ordered, said Cert.lv deputy manager Varis Teivāns in an interview to Rīta Panorāma programme of LTV.

As Catalan parliament reconvenes, it elects pro-independence speaker

The Catalan regional parliament has in its first sitting since its ousting and snap December election elected a separatist-minded politician as its Chairman, which indicates that the attempts to break the region away from Spain would continue.

Latvia’s National Armed forces receive new Harris tactical radio equipment

In 2017, Latvia received tactical military radios worth USD 10.5 million from American Harris Corporation. Procurement of radio equipment will further improve command function and help develop a lasting communication system with other NATO member states, as reported by Latvian Defence Ministry.

MEP: Europe continues strengthening its energy independence

«The European Parliament has voiced strong support towards Europe’s energy independence and moving its energy policy away from Russia’s monopoly by investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy resources,» said MEP Krišjānis Kariņš after the vote on Clean Energy Act’s first reading in Strasbourg.

Apple expected to pay additional 38 billion USD in taxes for money kept abroad

Motivated by the U.S. tax reform, Apple will pay about 38 billion U.S. dollars (31 billion euros) in tax on the roughly 250 billion dollars (204 billion euros) the computer technology firm keeps outside of its country of origin as it plans to focus more on its contribution to the American economy.

Latvian police commenced three criminal processes for contraband of drugs this year

In the first two weeks of 2018, State Revenue Service’s Customs Police commenced three criminal processes in regards to illegal drugs contraband in postal packages from Lithuania to Latvia.

Would you be ready to boycott something in your life?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Polls Archive



Category feed: Feed: