Commemoration Day of Defenders of the Barricades in Latvia Date in the current year: January 20, 2016

Commemoration Day of Defenders of the Barricades in Latvia January 20 is Commemoration Day of Defenders of the Barricades in Latvia. This day commemorates the events that took place in January 1991 in Riga.

The Barricades were the series of confrontations between Latvia and Soviet Union. The name derives from the popular effort of building and protecting barricades, that were mainly in Riga from January 13 till 27.

Latvia declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1990, but the government anticipated, that the Soviet Union might take some efforts to restore it. After the attacks in early January in 1991 the Latvian government called on citizens to build barricades for protection of main targets.

January 20 was the deadliest day of the barricades. The OMON (Special Purpose Mobile Unit) attacked the Latvian Interior Ministry. A cameraman, schoolboy and two policemen were killed. Another cameraman died later of his injures. Four policemen and five participants of the barricades were injured. The OMON also suffered casualties. The Latvian Council of ministers established public safety department to protect the barricades on January 24. The victims were buried on January 25 and most defenders of the barricades went home.

Commemoration Day begins with the minute of silence. The wreaths are laid on the graves of the victims and at the Freedom Monument. A special liturgy is served in Riga Cathedral, that is followed by the speech of the president of Latvia. Memorial bonfires are lit in the night on the streets of Riga.

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