Lithuania seeks compensation from Russia

20th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Lithuania expects compensation from Russia for the bloody assault on a Vilnius television tower that Moscow launched in a bid to preserve the Soviet state, the foreign minister said Thursday.

Fourteen civilians were killed and 700 injured in January 1991 when Soviet forces launched a nighttime attack on the television transmission tower in the tiny Baltic state's capital city.

Thousands of civilians formed a human shield as it continued to broadcast in a sign of Moscow's inability to re-exert its influence over former Soviet lands.

The assault underlined the misgivings that Lithuania felt during the five decades of Soviet rule and Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis said Thursday that Lithuania wanted to address the incident during upcoming talks in Moscow.

"We hope for a gesture of good will from the Russian government in resolving an issue that concerns human compassion and corresponding compensation," Azubalis told Russia's Kommersant daily and the Interfax news agency.

"In 2011, we are commemorating the 20-year anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between Latvia and Russia, and the 20-year anniversary of the tragic events of January 13, 1991," he said.

"These dates could provide new opportunities for expanding our bilateral dialogue."

The Baltic state assumed the rotating OSCE chairmanship this year and Azubalis said he would visit Moscow in his capacity as the rights and security body's representative in early February.

Like neighbouring Latvia and Estonia, Lithuania was annexed by the Soviets during World War II.

The region remained solidly under Moscow's thumb until Kremlin leader Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in 1985.

On March 11, 1990, after a three-years wave of peaceful protest, Lithuania was the first republic to secede from the Soviet Union. Estonia and Latvia followed suit and more republics split in 1991.

© 2011 AFP

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