30 years from storming the TV tower in Vilnius: the night when the USSR killed itself

  • 30 years from storming the TV tower in Vilnius the night when the USSR killed itself

Vilnius: On the night of January 12-13, 1991, personnel and armored vehicles of the Soviet Army and special forces of the Alpha group were brought into the center of Vilnius. There was an assault on the Vilnius TV tower, during which 13 people were killed.

Soviet troops captured the TV tower and television center in Vilnius 30 years ago. The Kremlin thought they were saving the USSR, but the massacre in Lithuania only hastened its end.

Lithuania took a clear course towards leaving the USSR at the very beginning of 1990. On the night of March 11, 1990, the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR proclaimed Lithuania an independent state. Moscow then did not recognize the sovereignty of Lithuania, but the nationalist forces already felt very confident in the republic. The Soviet government tried to resist the secession of the republic, but did so very sluggishly and reluctantly.

In early January 1991, special forces of the USSR KGB from the Alpha group arrived in Vilnius. And practically at the same time, on January 7, 1991, the Cabinet of Ministers of the Lithuanian SSR began to "liberalize prices." The cost of basic foodstuffs immediately more than tripled.

The next day, units of the Pskov airborne division were transferred to Lithuania, and on January 10, Mikhail Gorbachev himself demanded the restoration of the operation of the Soviet Constitution on the territory of the Lithuanian SSR and the abolition of anti-Soviet acts adopted by the Supreme Soviet of Lithuania.

Despite their activity, the nationalist forces of Lithuania initially did not offer serious resistance to the Soviet military. At least at one in the morning on January 12, Soviet paratroopers without any problems occupied the building that housed the Regional Security Department, a Lithuanian security structure not controlled by Moscow.

On the night of January 13, two columns of armored vehicles of the 7th Guards Airborne Division, as well as soldiers of the Alpha group, advanced to the center of Vilnius. One column headed towards the building of the Supreme Council of Lithuania, where thousands of Lithuanians had gathered, and the other towards the television tower, where a crowd of people was also observed.

First, 10 tanks cleared the obstacles from the cars driven by the "defenders" of the TV tower, and then the soldiers of the special unit "Alpha" took the building of the television center by storm. At 2:10 a.m. a Lithuanian TV announcer announced live that the television center had been seized by the Soviet military. At the same time, a message was broadcast on the radio of Vilnius about the beginning of the USSR aggression against sovereign Lithuania.

During the siege of the TV tower, 14 people were killed (according to the Lithuanian prosecutor's office - 15 people), 140 people were injured. Among the dead, by the way, was Lieutenant V.V. Shatskikh, who served in the Alpha group.

By 5 o'clock in the morning, Soviet troops withdrew from the buildings of the Supreme Council of Lithuania and the television center. The order for the withdrawal of troops was allegedly given by Mikhail Gorbachev himself. However, none of the highest officials of the Soviet Union took responsibility for the storming of the television center. Gorbachev himself has repeatedly stated that he knew nothing about the introduction of troops into the center of Vilnius.

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