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Memorial Park Dedicated to the "Barricades Days" Victims

Gian Luka • 6 minutes read • March 22nd, 2017
There is one park in Riga (if we can call it the park) which really impressed me. This is the place of memory of the Barricades Days of January 1991 victims. It is located near Bastion Hill in the heart of Riga.

Now it is a regular beautiful park where young people celebrate weddings, children roller skate, and lovers feed pigeons and secretly kiss.

However, things were different in January 1991...
After the adoption of The Declaration "On the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia", in fact, there was a dual power in the country. On the one hand, all the power structures of the USSR remained, while the parliament and the government were forming their own structures. It was interesting, for example, that the Latvian police subordinated to the parliament, and OMON - to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR.
This situation could not last long, which was manifested on January 2, 1991, when Riga OMON captured the House of Press.

The USSR tried to keep totalism in the countries with all the strength it has left.
On January 13, after the storming of the television center by the Soviet troops in Vilnius, more than half a million people came to the streets of Riga. A decision on non-violent resistance was made. At night the whole center was blocked by barricades. It is symbolic that the bonfire erected on Dome Square became a signal to the action of disobedience. The Communists tried to resist and the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Latvia asked Gorbachev to impose presidential rule in the country.

Let me remind you that in fact the police was on the side of independent Latvia.
On January 14, the Riga OMON began to act, first they disarmed one of the police stations in Riga.
On January 15, the Riga Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs was disarmed. On the same day, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Latvia actually attempted to make a coup by "taking" all the power in the country.
On January 16, OMON tried to unblock the "barricades" of trucks that blocked a bridge between the OMON base and the city. The driver Robert Murnieks was killed during a clash.

On January 17, the Minister of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Latvia issued an order to use weapons by the police to protect buildings (in fact, the order was directed against Riga OMON).
Some pictures:

On January 20, OMON on several cars moved towards the administrative quarter (the building of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor's Office). The cars were attacked by fire. The witnesses claim that the shots were from both buildings and from the side of Bastion Hill, occupied by protesters.

​OMON assaulted the building of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and occupied the building. During the fighting in the building, two policemen were killed (Sergei Kononenko and Vladimir Gomonovich).
The film director Andris Slapinsh, the cameraman Guido Zwaygzne, the schoolboy Edijs Riekstins were killed in the park, 8 people were injured. Unfortunately, these were not all of the victims... On January 21, Ilgvars Grieziņš died because of an accident during the construction of the barricades, and Raymond Salmins was killed by Riga OMON during the August putsch.
As for the events of January, after the battles near Bastion Hill, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Latvia contacted the commander of Riga OMON and agreed on their unhindered return to the base.
After the August coup, Riga Omon was disbanded, and its soldiers went in Russia. 

Over time, the memorial to the dead "In the Barricades Days" was created in the park near Bastion Hill.

This is a very symbolic and peaceful place...

The park has memorable signs in the form of boulders dedicated to each of those who died for the freedom of Latvia.

Now this is a quiet and peaceful place, and 23 years ago the bullets whined here...

As I understand, some of the boulders are in the place of death, some in memory of the dead. (As I've said above, not all people died in the park).

Many people walking in the park do not pay attention to the memorial any longer... Unfortunately...

At night the park is even more impressive... It's good that the Latvians honor the dead for the freedom of their country.

I've found several videos
Author: Gian Luka
Translated by: Olesya Zhukova

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