Twenty years ago today, Lithuania rose up and declared itself the first of the Soviet Socialist Republics independent of the USSR. At first it almost seemed like a quaint, quixotic, symbolic thing to do ... but no! The Lithuanians were really free, and as more countries joined them, the Soviet Union crumbled around them! (And of course, some countries had never recognized their incorporation into the USSR in the first place.)
To commemorate this anniversary, here 's a timeline of the events leading up to that momentous decision and a retrospective article from the Irish Times. Finally, here's the obligatory Wikipedia entry.
Remember, it took the Soviet Union almost 18 months from this date to recognize Lithuania's independence -- following bloodshed, a failed Soviet coup and the U.S. president's siding with the Lithuanians. By then, the USSR was about to fall apart.
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