Press Office

Thursday 27 Nov 2014

Press Release

BBC Russian debates 20 years of Baltic independence

On Thursday 20 January 2011, a special edition of the BBC Russian interactive programme, Vam Slovo (Over To You), will be broadcast live from the headquarters of Latvian Radio – one of the buildings in Riga that, 20 years ago this week, were surrounded by barricades.

The events, which were among the first of many that took place across the Soviet Union in 1991, resulted in the country's collapse and the Union's dissolution on 31 December 1991, and changed the world with the end of the Cold War. The BBC programme from Riga is part of a raft of multimedia content evaluating that momentous year and looking at the "winners" and "losers" of the end of the USSR.

During the one-hour live programme, broadcast from 19.00 local time (17.00 GMT) on radio and online on, BBC Russian presenter, Janina Litvinova, will host a discussion with Ivars Ijabs, political scientist, cultural commentator and assistant professor at University of Latvia, and Aleksandr Gaponenko, president of the Institute of European Studies. In front of an audience representing each of the three Baltic states, they will look at what 20 years of independence have meant for the region, re-evaluating the events of that momentous day and those that followed, and assessing how these shaped the development of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania into their modern-day incarnations.

The BBC Russian website will also publish the opinions of its users in the Baltic states, who have been asked to share their thoughts on the changes brought about by the events of 1991.

Janina Litvinova says: "It's hard to over-estimate the events that took place 20 years ago, and people may be attempting to understand what caused them for many more years to come. However, one thing is undisputable: the Baltic republics' leap into independence – whether or not it was a cause or a consequence – sparked the collapse of the USSR and launched a new geopolitical entity and changed the lives of millions of people. During our special broadcast from Riga, we'll try to bring to the fore the thoughts and views of the ordinary people who happened to live through those momentous minutes."

BBC World Service

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