Beginning of the end: Lithuanians on the bloodbath 30 years ago that precipitated the collapse of the USSR

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hirty years ago, in the frosty early winter of 1991, a moment when the self-declared independence of Lithuania wobbled under heavy pressure from Moscow, factory worker Vytautas Peciukonis tuned in to the radio to hear news of Soviet tanks rolling in his native Vilnius.

A few hours later, he was pulling bodies from under the bellies of those tanks.

The tragic events of the night of January 12-13 cascaded rapidly, Peciukonis tells The Independent. At Vilnius’ TV tower, the epicentre of clashes between Soviet troops and pro-independence protesters, mere minutes separated happy protest songs from the  bloodshed after midnight.

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