Glasnost, the package of reforms devised by Mikhail Gorbachev to try to save the USSR from collapse at the end of the 80s, was used as an excuse for the birth of the nationalist and democratic Lithuanian Sajudis movement. Shortly afterwards, the Communist Party of Lithuania broke away from the CPSU. The cultural demands quickly became general desires for secession 40 years after the invasion. Following the first democratic election, the Lithuanian parliament declared independence and the Soviet response was not long in coming: tanks occupied key buildings in the capital, Vilnius. There were thirteen deaths. A little later, with the coup d’état in Moscow which put an end to the USSR, independence became an internationally recognized reality.
Twenty years on, Lithuania is a prosperous nation, without serious social or ethnic problems, with a stable party system and a full member of the European and Atlantic international organizations. Its economy, seriously battered by the latest financial crisis, is showing vitality in recovery and is a few months away from forming part of the Euro zone. The latest step on a long path embarked on at the beginning of the 90s.
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