THE SITUATION IN LITHUANIA STILL HIDES MANY UNKNOWNS
Duma Newspaper, January 16, 1991, Vilnius. The special envoy for Duma newspaper, Maxim Behar, reports from Vilnius, Lithuania.
VILNIUS, January 16 - A special parliamentary committee was set up in the Lithuanian capital late last night to investigate the army's actions a few days ago when its units occupied several important public buildings in Vilnius, including the radio and television centre. The committee is headed by Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius and it is expected that its first results will be known soon. The official conclusion of the Lithuanian prosecutor's office was published yesterday - the Soviet soldier who died on the night of 12-13 January was killed from behind by a bullet from a special type of short-barreled Kalashnikov assault rifle, which no one in Lithuania has ever been armed with. Moreover, there was not a single armed person in the building of the radio-television centre, apart from the army.
Then 14 innocent Lithuanians died and their funeral has become a central event in Vilnius today. About one million people took part in the procession. Punitive security measures were taken at the Sakdis funeral and not a single incident occurred during the time. That evening, the Committee for National Salvation effectively issued an ultimatum, announcing in a special statement on its controlling radio station that the only way to resolve the crisis was for Parliament to resign. That is unlikely to happen, he was legitimately elected and no one is now questioning his credentials. Later, at a press conference, Lithuania's Deputy Prime Minister Sigmas Vashivila said that there had been reports of a large build-up of new air equipment near Minsk in Belarus.
But the air equipment near Minsk in Belarus. It is not yet known if there will be a curfew tonight. According to the latest reports, 48 people are missing.
Late last night, Lithuanian leader Vytautas Landsbergis made a dramatic appeal to all governments in English on the radio. He urged them to postpone the Gulf War for a few days.
Later at a press conference, he said the military action was a well-prepared scenario against all the Baltic states, which should have started with the price increase. This is the reason why the Lithuanian parliament rejected these increases a week ago. According to this scenario, the legitimately upright leaders of the three Baltic republics are to be overthrown and a Moscow-led military government established there. The Lithuanian leader added that, despite his many efforts, he had been unable to contact US President George W. Bush.
Asked about his attitude towards the Committee for National Salvation, Landsbergis said, "We were not told any specific name of a member of this committee. The signatures 'group of people' or 'the committee' are frivolous to say the least. We all know what lies behind them - coup plotters who are afraid to show themselves..." He did, however, curtsy to Boris Yeltsin, saying "he opposed dictatorship as strongly as no one else in the Soviet Union could do. And we must help him."
Only half an hour before, the head of the committee sent personally by President Gorbachev, Borys Oliynyk, a member of the Council of Federations, had surprisingly addressed the sitting parliament saying, "Dear deputies of the sovereign state of Lithuania... This means that the committee has after all understood the support that the legitimately standing parliament, government and the Saudis movement have among the people of Lithuania. And let us hope that this will be the assessment."
During the night, Lithuanian radio broadcast the story of a taxi driver who had stopped on the highway yesterday during the day to photograph the truck with Soviet soldiers standing in front of him. And in response, he received an automatic kick in the legs. Lithuania is expected to be without electricity from this evening - the labor collective of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant has sent a letter saying that it is stopping the transmission of electricity to the republic because the Lithuanian leaders "instead of leaving the scene, continue to manipulate the people..." This same collective sent a letter just two days ago saying that it supports the struggle for Lithuanian independence. However, Prime Minister Vagnorius said that technically stopping electricity to the republic alone was hardly possible, and on the other hand several demonstrations in support of Lithuania had already taken place on the grounds of the power plant. The Committee for National Salvation also issued a statement. It says that no one in Lithuania can rule anymore and that Gorbachev must therefore take power and introduce presidential rule.
Parliament is indeed now an impregnable - at least by land - fortress. At least a kilometre away, all roads are blocked by several rows of concrete blocks, and so is the building itself. All night long, trucks have been dumping earth around the surrender, and thousands of military papers, passports, and diplomas are strung as if on a skewer on the iron rebar that surrounds it. The pile of discarded medals is at least a meter high. Last night, in a meeting with Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius, the military, headed by the representative of the USSR Ministry of Defence, General Naumoz, accused the Lithuanian leaders of three things: 'Destroying the ideals of socialism, insulting the working class and not respecting Soviet orders.' From this position it is once again clear - the war in Lithuania is a fact, but the war is still to come.