Latvia commemorates the 1991 Barricades

On January 20 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. 

At one point, around 700,000 demonstrators had gathered on the streets of Rīga in a remarkable show of solidarity characteristic of the times of change. 

Though this year no gathering can take place, candles and bonfires are being lit commemorating the time and the people who died during the events.

 

The country's top officials thanked the participants and called for remembering the state foundations and ideals, and to stand united to face today's challenges.

The President of Latvia, Egils Levits highlighted the special importance of the barricades in the history of the Latvian nation and statehood: “Our internal freedom and the long-suppressed voice of truth manifested [in the barricades]. Courage was brought together in solidarity."

The goal – the recovery of the Latvian state – gave the courage to overcome doubts and fears.

“With barricades, we proved our national will to the whole world, but first to ourselves,” Levits added.

The president urged the residents of Latvia to safeguard the democratic and national values of the country on a daily basis.

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