Latvia remembers the Barricades of 1991

In January 1991, opponents of Latvia's independence from the Soviet Union attempted to violently overthrow the fledgling republic and restore the previous system of rule. In response, citizens erected barricades to protect strategically important buildings. Commentators look back on these times and discuss their ramifications in the current situation.

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Ir (LV) /

Defend ourselves with more than bare hands

Even more than three decades later we should be prepared to fight for our independence again if need be, Ir warns:

“The peaceful defence of the barricades showed the world back then that we are prepared to take risks to regain our independence. ... Now Latvia is an independent country once more, a part of Nato, and we can and should defend our barricades with more than our bare hands. As we see time and again in Ukraine, Moscow knows no compassion - neither for civilians nor for captured soldiers, nor even for its own soldiers.”

Neatkarīgā (LV) /

West is being selfish

Commenting in Neatkarīgā, journalist Bens Latkovskis compares the Barricades of 1991 with the war in Ukraine:

“How naïve we were back then when we thought the West would still free us from the yoke of occupation. ... The main concern of the leaders of the West during the 'perestroika' period, including the United States, was to ensure that the USSR did not split up into separate blocs. At every meeting with Western politicians, we had to listen to their admonishments to be gentler, to not demand independence and not give Gorbachev's opponents an opportunity to escalate the situation. Today, on the issue of supplying battle tanks to the Ukrainian armed forces, the same reasoning applies. ... Don't annoy the Kremlin boss and keep him within a framework that allows us to lead our peaceful lives without worries.”

Tygodnik Powszechny (PL) /

Balts are completely cutting the cord now

The Baltic states are catching up on derussification, Tygodnik Powszechny observes:

“Although the Baltic countries freed themselves from Soviet occupation in 1991, they are now to a certain degree experiencing a continuation of this process through the war in Ukraine. Street names are being derussified, schools renamed, and soon there will be no more Russian-language education in Latvia and Estonia. Some Balts question whether it is appropriate to attend performances of The Nutcracker in view of the war of aggression. And only recently even the Russian opposition TV station Dozhd was forced to leave Riga.”