Romas Kalanta (February 22, 1953 â May 15, 1972) was a 19 year old Lithuanian high school student known for his public self-immolation protesting Soviet regime in Lithuania. Kalanta's death provoked the largest post-war riots in Lithuania and inspired similar self-immolations. In 1972 alone, 13 more people committed suicide by self-immolation.
However, he has not become a hero in the eyes of lithuanians yet but his sacfrifice is considered to be one of the biggest in the history of Lithuania.
Life and death
Kalanta was religious; in a school essay he indicated that he would like to become a Catholic priest, which caused him some troubles with the authorities. He attended an evening school while working at a factory. Kalanta played guitar and made a few drawings; he had long hair and sympathized with the hippies. These sympathies were later exploited by the Soviets to discredit Kalanta among the older population. He had one older brother named Antanas.
At noon on May 14, 1972, Kalanta poured 3 liters of gasoline on himself and set himself on fire in the square adjoining the LaisvÄs AlÄja in front of the Kaunas State Musical Theatre, where in 1940 the People's Seimas declared establishment of the Lithuanian SSR and petitioned the Soviet Union to admit Lithuania as one of the soviet socialist republics. He died about 14 hours later in a hospital. Before the suicide, Kalanta left his notebook with a brief note on a bench. Its content became known only after the declaration of independence in 1990 and opening up of secret KGB archives. The note read "blame only the regime for my death" (Lithuanian: DÄl mano mirties kaltinkite tik santvarkÄ ). No other notes were found to explain in more detail what provoked the suicide.
After his death rumors spread that a few of his classmates formed a patriot group, and that they held a lottery to determine which of them would have to carry out the mission. The official Soviet propaganda claimed that Kalanta was mentally ill.
Riots and aftermath
The Soviet government tried to cover up the event, but its witnesses spread the news by word of mouth. On May 18, the Soviet authorities hastened Kalanta's burial by several hours to prevent publicity. His funeral procession touched off two full days of rebellion in which thousands of people took to the streets shouting: "Freedom for Lithuania!". They attacked a police station and the party offices. The gathered people, mostly high school students and young workers, broke into a politically charged riot, which was forcibly dispersed by KGB, militsiya, and Internal Troops. The next day, about 3,000 people marched along the LaisvÄs AlÄja of which 402 were arrested. The New York Times reported of numerous injuries and one death among Soviet troops.
The public agitation was felt throughout 1972 and 1973 as the KGB registered 3â4 times more various anti-Soviet incidents. Lithuania recorded 13 other suicides by fire in 1972, including 24-year-old V. Stonys in VarÄna on May 29, 60-year-old A. AndriuÅ¡keviÄius in Kaunas on June 3, 62-year-old ZaliÅ¡auskas on June 10, 40-year-old Juozapas BaraceviÄius in Å iauliai on June 22.
- Polish Ryszard Siwiec self-immolation in 1968
- Czechoslovak Jan Palach self-immolated in 1969
- Lithuanian Vytautas ViÄiulis self-immolated in 1989
- Misiunas, Romuald; Rein Taagepera (1993). The Baltic States: Years of Dependence 1940â1990 (revised ed.). University of California Press. pp. 252â253. ISBN 0-520-08228-1.
- AnuÅ¡auskas, Arvydas (2003). "KGB reakcija Ä¯ 1972 m. Ä¯vykius". Genocidas ir rezistencija (in lietuviÅ³) 1 (13).
- Coleman, Loren L (2004). The Copycat Effect: How the Media and Popular Culture Trigger the Mayhem in Tomorrow's Headlines. Simon and Schuster. pp. 57â58. ISBN 978-1-4165-0554-9.
- KamiÅski, Åukasz (2010-01-20). "Gyvieji fakelai" (in lietuviÅ³). Bernardinai.lt. Retrieved 2010-04-23.
- Vardys, Vytas Stanley; Judith B. Sedaitis (1997). Lithuania: The Rebel Nation. Westview Series on the Post-Soviet Republics. WestviewPress. p. 89. ISBN 0-8133-1839-4.
- Petersen, Roger Dale (2001). Resistance and rebellion: lessons from Eastern Europe. Cambridge University Press. p. 291. ISBN 978-0-521-77000-2.
- Smith, Hedrick (May 28, 1972). "Some Cracks in the Kremlin Wall". The New York Times: E2.
- Vidzgiris, Julius (SeptemberâOctober 1980). "Lietuvos laisvÄs kovos 1940â1980". Aidai (in lietuviÅ³) 5: 250â260. ISSN 0002-208X.
Lua error in Module:Authority_control at line 346: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).