L.Gulbinauskas, who came from Palanga but has been living in Kaunas for a long time, left for the capital to defend the Palace of the Supreme Council-Restorative Seimas on his birthday on January 9.
“Then we celebrated my birthday and I told a friend:” You know what, we eat a cake and go to Vilnius, “L. Gulbinauskas recalls.
He was then 20 years old.
He says that he and his close friend Ričardas Zaranka went to Klaipėda and found a taxi returning to Vilnius by accident.
In the capital, they stayed with the aunt of L. Gulbinauskas’ future wife.
She had her own contacts and indicated where the guys could go if she wanted to contribute and defend the country.
“Already on January 10, we were in the Supreme Council, received us and since then we have performed various tasks, guarding the entrance to Vytautas Landsbergis’ office. Then, on January 11, we took an oath that we never broke, ”L. Gulbinauskas remembers in the winter of 1991.
On the fateful night of January 13, not yet knowing what was going on at the Council House, the two guys returned to rest in an apartment in the Žirmūnai district, near the North Town. But not for long.
“We heard the sounds of military equipment, turned on the TV and saw Eglė Bučelytė say that she was being attacked. We ran outside. Thanks to fate, the giggle stopped and the taxi driver just asked, “Sit where you need it?”
Žiguliai hurried in the right direction, but, as L. Gulbinauskas remembers, the road was blocked by military equipment and did not allow passing.
As a result, the taxi driver had to drive on sidewalks and grass to just reach the Verkhovna Rada.
“We have seen a pregnant woman being pulled out of a car, and already during the Supreme Council we learned that she gave birth to that scare,” G. Gulbinauskas recalls the horrors of that night.
The secret mission is to transport state documents
He says that as soon as he arrived, the guys were instructed to do their best to enable the people inside to survive and take away the state-important information they had with them from the building.
And later state documents were ordered to be taken to the secret apartment themselves.
“We didn’t really think about what would happen to us, and when we had to take the documents out, we didn’t doubt, we did everything quietly, quietly, without anyone knowing anything,” the Defender of Liberty recalls the mission on the night of January 13th.
After that, the guys returned to continue guarding the Council House.
“It simply came to our notice then. We were one of the first to see all the installed material about dead people, which is now often shown on television. After that, we realized that we would not withdraw, “he recalls the feelings that were flooded at that time.
After that, we realized we weren’t really going to retreat.
In order to defend himself from enemies, L. Gulbinauskas received a knife from an unfamiliar man at that time. He has preserved it so far.
“The man who gave it to me said, ‘I hope you will use it for its intended purpose,'” the Defender of Freedom still remembers. And he adds that he had two more weapons with him – a stick with the inscription “Memento mori” and infinite determination.
According to L. Gulbinauskas, those emotions of the night did not disappear even after 30 years.
“The heartbeat, the pain of the people who were outside, where we couldn’t help, didn’t go away,” he says.
However, he is glad that he could have been a part of the Lithuanian struggle.
Personal archive photo /L.Gulbinauskas preserved a knife, which he received in 1991, defending the Supreme Council in January
L. Gulbinauskas notes that the unity of the people in defending the most important objects of the Lithuanian state was immeasurable.
“I can really say that there was no Vilnius, no Kaunas, no Klaipeda, no cities, there was one Lithuania. That’s how we stayed together on January 13, patient, thinking, seeing the so-called first blood “, – he returns to the fateful night with his thoughts.
L. Gulbinauskas says that his and R. Zaranka’s vigilances in the Supreme Council continued until January 17, until the tension subsided and it was possible to return home at least for a short time.
“Few people know such a thing, but in early February, the development of an educational unit to protect the palace and other important objects began. Due to the circumstances, I had the honor of falling into that training unit, so for me the events of January 13 in the Supreme Council only continued, ”says L. Gulbinauskas.
We meet to speak out to make it easier
Asked if he felt fear at the time, the man quoted the famous phrase as “not afraid only cowards.”
He says that everyone felt anxious and fearful, but different – mostly for their parents, others, but not for themselves.
“I would not dare say that I was not afraid. But I knew what I was coming in, I had decided I would stand here. <...> But at that time we never had (fear – 15min) because you are driving, driving, getting up, alarm, sirens, you are constantly in combat readiness. Maybe it saved us, “he thinks.
Today, 30 years after the bloody events of 1991, L. Gulbinauskas says that with the approach of January 13 every year, the excitement and memories felt at that time return. Sometimes insomnia also torments.
Therefore, on January 12 or 13 of each year, he meets like-minded people who have had similar experiences.
“We meet to talk, to remember that that day would not disappear from us, maybe it would be easier,” he says.
And for the young generation born in free Lithuania, he wishes not to lose what has been won.
He says that he wants people to “enjoy life, love the Lithuanian language and nation, not turn away from it”.
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