From a bullet to a match. LRT to put together virtual museum of January 1991 events

As the 30th anniversary of the January 13 events approaches, LRT invites witnesses to share photos, videos, and audio recordings dating back to the important night when Soviet troops attempted a crackdown on newly-independent Lithuania. The material will appear in a virtual museum.

“While changing my shoes, I found a piece of iron. It was a bullet that bounced off a wall and hit my leg,” Aldona Petrulionienė, a former teacher, reads from a witness account. To the January 13 exhibition, she is contributing the shoe owned by her former student Eva Čepulytė.

On January 13, 1991, fourteen unarmed civilians were killed and hundreds more wounded after the Soviet troops stormed the TV Tower in Vilnius, part of a military action after Lithuania had declared independence from the USSR the previous year.

After the bloody night, Petrulionienė took a break from work and travelled around Lithuania to collect stories of its witnesses.

“I tried to protect the material. I have been waiting for a long time to give it to reliable hands,” she said.

The woman sometimes lent her archive to exhibitions. But when she heard that LRT was looking for such material, she did not hesitate.

“I put my heart into this. With great faith in you, I pass everything on,” Petrulionienė said.

In memory of the January events, LRT is creating a virtual museum, hoping that it will help young people to better understand their country’s recent history.

Many people have already answered the call to donate their personal belongings relating to the January events. Some sent digitised pictures, while others have brought items to the LRT office.

“One person sent us a photo of a match that he has been keeping for 30 years. During the bloody events, his mother kept that match between her lips. We can still see lipstick marks on it,” Mindaugas Valinevičius, head of the LRT Archive, said.

According to him, there are only a few items in the exhibition so far, but the stories behind them are fascinating. Donated or lent material will also be exhibited physically at the LRT Museum.


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