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1991 Barricades commemoration events in Latvia

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUOne of the most notable chapters in Latvia’s newest history was written in January 1991 – the barricades period, when Latvian residents commemorate the victims and feel pride for the bravery of the nation in defending their country’s freedom.

In January 1991 barricades were organized as part of Latvian nation’s opposition to Moscow’s armed coup, writes director of Liepaja Museum’s branch ‘Liepaja Under Occupation Regimes’ office Sandra Šēnina.

The military action commenced in Lithuania on the night to 13 January. Units of the Soviet Army and special forces stormed Lithuania’s main television broadcasting tower, killing 13 and wounding many others.

What forced the Soviet Union to rethink its plans was the massive protest that took place in Riga on 13 January. More than half a million people took part in it, protesting against the violence in Vilnius, at the same time voicing unanimous support for Latvia’s independence and legally elected Supreme Council and government.

As soon as news regarding events in Lithuania reached their ears, chairman of Popular Front of Latvia and the first vice-chairman of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia Dainis Īvāns went to the radio and read a speech at 04.45 in the morning on 13 January, addressing Latvia’s nation and urging residents to set up barricades to protect strategic objects. A great number of agricultural vehicles were brought to Riga to protect different important buildings, including the Television and Radio Centre.

To commemorate this troubling period of Latvia’s history, different commemorative events will be held all across Latvia.

RIGA

To commemorate events of January 1991, representatives of more than 170 media organizations of that period are invited for a traditional gathering on Sunday, 20 January.

During the gathering at 13:30, journalists, participants of barricades, as well as politicians of that period will gather on Klostera Street at the Saeima building, where a commemorative bonfire will be lit.

KOCĒNI

On 18-19 January, events commemorating defenders of barricades will be taking place in Kocēni.

Like every year, a commemorative bonfire will be lit at the Kokmuiža Castle. Participants are invited to gather around 12:00 on 18 January to commemorate the tragic events that took place 28 years ago.

On Saturday, 19 January, Kocēni Culture Hall will be holding song and remembrance event together with singer Ieva Akuratere and musicians Leons Sējāns and Matīss Akuraters.

TRIKĀTA

On Sunday, 20 January, a commemorative event will be held at Depo Meeting House.

At 15:00 there will be a showing of Lustrum movie. This film tells about the methods KGB used in the 80s and 90s.

After the film there will be stories, songs and hot tea at a commemorative bonfire. Anyone interested can attend.

ALŪKSNE

A commemorative event will be held in Alūksne’s Culture Centre’s Small Hall at 13:00 Sunday, 20 January.

Alūksne Music School will provide the music and Alūksne Museum, together with 1991 Barricades Museum, will show an animated movie for the whole family – ‘Barikādes’.

Traditionally any participant will be able to taste National Armed Forces field kitchen cuisine and warm up at a bonfire that will be lit near the culture centre.

An invitation from Alūksne Museum – in preparation for the 30th anniversary of Barricades Day, the museum has prepared a video in which participants of barricades and their relatives tell their stories. Although it is planned to be revealed in January 2021, work on it has commenced this year. This is why it is planned to start filming on 20 January. Participants of barricades are invited to apply for participation.

Participation in all events is free of charge.

LIEPĀJA

On Sunday, 20 January, at 16:00 Liepāja Museum’s Liepaja Under Occupation Regimes office will hold a commemorative event. A commemorative bonfire will be lit at K.Ukstiņa Street 7/9. This has become a tradition in all of Latvia.

Liepāja City Council chairman Jānis Vilnītis will read a speech and Colonel Lieutenant Vilmārs Vecvagaris of the 44th Battalion of Latvia’s National Guard will take on an oath of service. A service will be held by Liepāja Young Guard Latvian National Flag Group. It will be conducted by Jānis Dreiblats. Musical accompaniment will be provided by Liepāja Symphonic Orchestra and Jēkabs Ozoliņš’s men’s choir.

After the official part of the event, those present will be invited to enjoy a concert featuring songs by Jurs Pavītols, Matīss Pavītols and Tālis Marhilēvičs and enjoy hot tea at a bonfire.

KULDĪGA

On Sunday, 20 January, commemorative events will be held in Kuldīga, Liepājas Street.

During this year’s event residents who took part in the 13 January barricades will be interviewed. There will be an open microphone stage. Residents will be asked to tell about their experiences, what they witnessed and heard during this trying time. Every memory unveils something new. Memories rekindle emotions that are not there when looking at photos. Residents are asked to be active and generous with their stories.

During this event, participants will also have the opportunity to learn more about Latvia’s history, looking back at events of 1991. Hot soup and tea will be provided by National Guard’s 45th Support Battalion.

The commemorative event at the post office on Liepājas Street is important because it served a special role during the period of barricades in 1991. To protect the post office, people had barricaded it with vehicles, concrete blocks and barbed wire. Barricades were also erected around Kuldīga broadcasting station. Latvijas Radio Kurzeme correspondent Silva Bendrāte was responsible for creating an independent broadcasting station is case Latvijas Radio voice in Riga was silenced. Plans were prepared to create recordings in four languages are broadcast it once the password «To those on vacation» was spoken on the air.


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