Lithuania's first post-independence leader, signatory to the 11 March Act, former speaker of the Supreme-Council-Reconstituent Seimas, Vytautas Landsbergis, has called for the restoration of conscription in Lithuania in the wake Russia's aggression in Ukraine.
Vytautas Landsbergis
© DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

"Our defence needs are yet to grow, but our defence starts with a spirit. I hope that politicians, officials, historians and the public will be united and will not forget honour. (…) Defenders, your job is not finished and your vigil continues. Let us not withdraw from the positions of truth and honour, let us take care of strong replacement. As long as threats and insults are coming from the eastern country, let us restore the conscript army," Landsbergis said on Monday, addressing a meeting of freedom defenders.

Reminiscing about historic events when Lithuania declared independence and faced Soviet aggression in January 1991, Landsbergis underlined that Ukraine, which did not move far enough from Russia's influence at the time, is now paying the price.

"We see what a big price Ukraine is paying now for being not determined enough at that time and for trying to pragmatically sit on two chairs," the former Seimas speaker said.

"We held free elections and immediately on 11 March we offered our hand to the Soviet Union, saying 'let's agree that Stalin's crime be annulled'. The answer was: no, you are slaves and must obey the master with a whip. Then we said: no, enough treating us as pawns, we have made up our mind. That's the legacy of the 13 January massacre," Landsbergis said.

He also stressed that at the time Lithuania defended not only its own freedom, but also the freedom of all occupied countries, and this responsibility remains to date.

"They decided to destroy Lithuania, and we defended the freedom of all countries occupied by the Soviets, including Russia's freedom. This is the way I see the mission of freedom defenders at that time – to defend not only Lithuania. That's our country's mission today as well. By using the right words we will perform that duty for ourselves and for our allies, the European Union and NATO.

"I am inviting everyone to use the right words. It is not an uprising that is taking place in the east of Ukraine, but Russia's war against Ukraine. It's a colonial war aimed at regaining control of the former colony with its rich soil and other resources. Mercenaries, paid by Russia and equipped with modern weaponry, are fighting, recruited both in Ukraine and Russia, as well as open interventionists – Russia's regular army units. One of them shot down the Malaysian passenger lane with a BUK system," Landsbergis said.

On 13 January 1991, the Soviet Union used force to overthrow Lithuania's legitimate government which declared the country's independence on 11 March 1990. Over 1,000 unarmed Lithuanian civilians were injured and 14 were killed during an attempt by the Soviet army and Special Forces to take over the Vilnius TV Tower and other strategic sites in Vilnius.

Although the Soviet troops managed to seize control of the TV Tower and the building of the Radio and Television of Lithuania, they did not dare to attack thousands of people guarding the Seimas.

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