Combat Footage Soviet OMON Ambushed in Latvian SSR

This combat footage was shot in Latvia during 1991. It shows Soviet OMON members en route to putting down protests during what became known as ‘the barricades conflict’ that mostly took place in and around Riga during the collapse of the USSR. The OMON men suddenly come under fire from Latvian assailants.

The Barricades conflict was a series of confrontations between the Republic of Latvia and the Soviet Union in January 1991 which took place mainly in Riga. The events are named for the popular effort of building and protecting barricades from 13 January until about 27 January. Latvia, which had declared the restoration of independence from the Soviet Union a year earlier, anticipated that the Soviet Union might attempt to regain control over the country by force.

After attacks by the Soviet OMON, like the men in this combat footage, in Riga in early January, the government called on people to build barricades for protection of possible targets (mainly in the capital city of Riga and nearby Ulbroka, as well as Kuldīga and Liepāja). Six people were killed in further attacks, several were wounded in shootings or beaten by OMON. Most victims were shot during the Soviet attack on the Latvian Ministry of the Interior on January 20, while another person died in a building accident reinforcing the barricades. The exact number of casualties among the Soviet loyalists is unknown. Around 32,000 people have received Commemorative Medal for Participants of the Barricades of 1991 for the participation or support for the event

In 1995, a support fund for ‘Participants of the Barricades of 1991’ was created. The fund is for the families of victims. It also gathers information on participants. In 2001 the fund created the ‘Museum of the Barricades of 1991’ to make historical materials it had gathered available to the public.

20 January is the commemoration day of Participants of the Barricades, on this day as well as on 18 November, 4 May, and 21 August. Participants of the barricades are awarded the Commemorative Medal for Participants of the Barricades of 1991. This award was established by the fund of ‘Participants of the Barricades of 1991’ in 1996. Since 1999 it is awarded by the state for those who had shown courage and unselfishness during the Barricades. The Barricades are also commemorated by numerous monuments in Latvia.

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