Barricades commemorative event program announced

Next weekend, Latvia commemorates the events known as the 'Barricades' and the people who lost their lives fighting for independence.

In January 1991 people flowed into the capitals of the Baltic states and erected makeshift barricades around strategic locations like the parliament and the national radio station to protect them against Soviet troops that wanted to crush the Baltic nations' independence drive.

Each year an extensive program of commemorative events is launched. Here is an outline of those events starting on January 13.

Saturday, January 13: The traditional commemorative event at Zaķusala island in Rīga will take place at 18:00 with the participation of several ministers, political figures of the time, participants of the Barricades, and National Armed Forces orchestra. The event will be livestreamed on the Barricades Museum Facebook page.

Tuesday, January 16: Commemorative events will be held for the first one fallen in the barricades, Roberts Mūrnieks. At 12:00 the laying of flowers will be held at Mārupe Cemetery, while at 16:00 a commemorative event will be by the "White Cross" (Baltais krusts) near the Vecmīlgrāvis bridge, where Roberts Mūrnieks was shot.

Thursday, January 18: Gratitude will be expressed to the participants of the Barricades and a new book recounting the events will be presented at the Barricades Museum.

Saturday, January 20: the official commemoration day. The laying of flowers will take place individually throughout the day at the Second Forest Cemetery (Otrie Meža kapi), as well as by the Freedom Monument.

Also on Saturday, a concert series around a bonfire in the Doma Square in Old Town will take place between 10:20 and 17:00 with several choirs participating. A mobile exhibit will also be on display, as well as an installation of large-scale photographies.  At 10:00 President Edgars Rinkēvičs will deliver a speech and light the bonfire.

Saturday at 18:00 there will be a free concert at the Rīga Cathedral (Rīgas Doms). 

If you would like to learn more about the events of that time, and can get to Rīga, the first stop should naturally be the 1991 Barricades Museum. For those further afield, we recommend this story from our archives and the short documentary film below from LTV, which comes complete with English subtitles.

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