Lithuania’s Defense Minister: Justice will triumph some day

The top official reminded that some people who were allegedly involved in killing of civilians in January, 1991 in Lithuania found shelter in neighbouring countries, including Belarus.

For example, General Vladimir Uskhopchik, one of the major suspects, is holed up in our country. At that time he was a division commander and comandant of the Vilnius garrison. Since 1991 he has been living in Belarus and even took a position of Deputy Defense Minister for a while. But the Belarusian authorities denied a request for his delivering to Lithuania.

On January 12, 2014 the Lithuanian authorities held a ceremony of making fires in memory of fighters for freedom and independence. On the night of 12th/13th of January, 1991 As a result of Soviet military actions, 13 civilians were killed and around 140 injured.

‘To my mind, everyone in power should realize that giving a shelter to criminals they do right neither for Lithuania nor for their country. It is my strong conviction that justice will triumph and those who are hiding criminals now will have to pay for it,’ Lithuanian Defense Minister Juozas Olekas told Belsat TV.

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‘At that moment our son was finishing school. Without any misgivings, he took an accordion and went to the TV Tower. They were singing songs, like all the rest. We live not far from here, and after we were told that tanks were approaching we jumped out of our beds and headed here. This happened about 10 pm. There were tanks here,’ Jonas Sadauskas, a participant of January Events, recollects.

{movie}January Events participant: ‘Soviet soldiers tried to provoke us’|right|14236{/movie}

‘I remember a tank shooting and my neighbour falling down and lying on the ground. I thought then that those shoots were not so terrible. People surrounded the TV tower, tanks and lorries full of soldiers drove from the other side. Servicemen came to us; they were not tall in comparing to us. What could they do, we guessed. They pulled out their batons and started waving. We managed to hurl them back. They started retreating, but later took rifles out. We showed little resistance: what could one do without arms? They came closer; some attacked them. Maybe, several people were killed at that moment,’ he said.

‘They came closer and a soldier turned a green gun over to me saying ‘Take it!’ in Russian. ‘We do’t need guns,’ I answered. It was a provocative act; they wanted to shoot me or at least film us having guns,’ Mr Sadauskas suggested.


It is to be recalled that the General Prosecutor’s Office of Lithuania is on the verge of issuing European arrest warrants for 79 suspects in the case over the January 1991 attempted coup in Vilnius.

The suspects are citizens of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, who held leading positions in the ministries of defense and interior, officers of the Committee of the State Security (KGB), activists of the Lithuanian Communist Party along with those involved in capturing the Vilnius TV tower, the Press House and other objects in Vilnius and other cities.

The January Events took place in Lithuania on January 11-13, 1991 in the aftermath of the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania. The events were centered in its capital, Vilnius, along with related actions in its suburbs and in the cities of Alytus, Šiauliai, Varėna, and Kaunas.

Nastassia Jaumen,

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