Shortwave Radio Audio Archive contributor, Richard Langley, has digitized a set of historic off-air recordings documenting the independence of Lithuania through Radio Vilinus.
We will feature Richard's full description and comments in this first post and recording. Subsequent posts will describe each individual recording of the set.
Many thanks to Richard for this archived archived audio:
Radio Vilnius 1990-1991
On 11 March 1990, Lithuania was the first Soviet republic to declare its independence. The Soviet Union issued an ultimatum to the Lithuanian authorities to renounce independence or suffer the consequences.
On 17 March 1990, Lithuania rejected the demand and the Soviet Union responded by applying economic sanctions and occupied parts of Vilnius, the capital city. In January 1991, the Soviets launched a larger scale operation against Lithuania. On 11 January, Soviet military units seized several building in Vilnius and elsewhere. On 12 January, civilians congregated outside some strategically important buildings such as those of the Supreme Council (the Seimas Palace), the Radio and Television Committee, the Vilnius TV Tower, and the main telephone exchange in an attempt to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Soviet military. In the early hours of 13 January, tanks and soldiers attacked the TV tower. Fourteen Lithuanians and one Russian soldier died.
Subsequently, Soviet forces surrounded and entered the Radio and Television Committee building and forced the TV station off the air. Shortly thereafter, a small TV studio in Kaunas was used to resume TV transmissions and put out a call for help. Radio transmissions were also affected. Although Soviet forces were in the vicinity of the Supreme Council building, they retreated instead of attacking. The occupation and military raids continued for several months following the attacks.
Subsequent Lithuanian-Russian negotiations resulted in the signing of a treaty on 31 January. A referendum on independence held on 9 February overwhelmingly supported the full and total independence of Lithuania. Other republics of the Soviet Union declared their independence and following the resignation speech by Mikhail Gorbachev on 25 December, the Soviet Union was dissolved the next day. The last Russian troops left Lithuania on 31 August 1993.
Radio Vilnius, the external service of Lithuanian Radio, transmitted news about events in Lithuania and the other Baltic republics even at the height of the Soviet attacks. The broadcasts were made, in part, using transmitters elsewhere in the Soviet Union. However, there was a temporary interruption in these broadcasts after the occupation of the Radio and TV Centre by Soviet troops early in the morning of 13 January. They resumed on 25 January.
Radio Nederland’s “Media Network” programs of 20 January 1991 and 14 January 1992 featured reports on Radio Vilnius and the Soviet occupation. The sound files of these programs are available on the Web (“Media Network Vintage Vault“).
I have six recordings of Radio Vilnius English Service shortwave broadcasts between March 1990 and January 1991. These were received in Hanwell, New Brunswick, Canada, using a Sony ICF-7600D receiver and supplied wire antenna draped around the listening room.
28 March 1990, 22:00 UTC, 11770 kHz (00m:00s – 00m:55s)
Strong signal. Interval signal (IS) and station identification (ID) but the transmission was cut off in mid-sentence: “This is Radio Vilnius. Hello and welcome to our daily broad” All that could be heard faintly on this frequency then was Radio Liberty in Russian (“Govorit Radio Svoboda”). Initially could hear nothing on Radio Vilnius parallel frequencies until about four minutes into the broadcast when a very faint signal on 12060 kHz could be heard (not recorded).
29 March 1990, 22:00 UTC, 12060 kHz (00m:55s – 02m:04s)
Weak signal. IS, station identification, and first part of “News About Lithuania.” Radio teletype interference. Checked other frequencies.
3 April 1990, 22:00 UTC, 17665 kHz (02m:06s – 30m:02s)
Improved signal. Receiver briefly switched to other frequencies to check quality during the recording. IS, ID, “News About Lithuania,” report on the occupation of the Lithuanian Prosecutor’s Office on Friday night (30 March), music, sports news, “Lithuanian by Radio.”