Thousands of grieving Lithuanians returned to the streets of Vilnius Saturday, paying their last respects to a young man killed in the Soviet crackdown on the republic's independence movement.
"The land the pope calls Mary's land was drenched in blood this year, but we hope flowers of freedom and justice will now grow on this land," the Rev. Pranciskus Vaicekonis told mourners in the 300-year-old Saints Peter and Paul Church.Several thousand people marched from a funeral home to the church to mourn Jonas Tautkus, 21, the 20th person to die in the Baltics since the Kremlin started using force to crush the independence drives.
The crowd was not as big as a mass funeral procession Jan. 16 for nine of the 13 people beaten, shot or crushed to death by Soviet tanks in a Jan. 13 assault on Lithuania's broadcasting center. One soldier also died in that assault.
There was more violence Friday night. A parliamentary spokeswoman said a new joint patrol of Soviet police and soldiers beat a 22-year-old Lithuanian man on a Vilnius street.
It was the first reported violence involving the joint army-police patrols, which Baltic leaders see as the Kremlin's attempt to strengthen control over their breakaway republics.
Tautkus died Wednesday of a gunshot wound to the head he suffered at a military checkpoint the day before. Lithuanian officials said soldiers shot him because he refused to get out of his car. The military said a ricochet hit Tautkus.
Regardless of the circumstances, mourners saw him as another victim of the Kremlin's crackdown.
"We must remember all those who died for freedom," Vaicekonis told the mourners, one of whom held the flag of independent Lithuania inside the church.
Tautkus' brown and black coffin lay closed on a pickup truck at the head of a memorial procession through downtown Vilnius. Marchers held candles and shielded the flames from the icy wind and a light snowfall. Some also held red carnations and orange tulips.
Church bells pealed as a half-dozen pallbearers took the coffin off the truck and carried it to the church.
The ceremony was held a few blocks away from the Vilnius military garrison, the headquarters of the troops who have been carrying out the crackdown.
The military-police patrols began in major Soviet cities on Friday to combat rising crime. The newspaper Echo of Lithuania on Saturday quoted the republic's interior minister, Mariionas Misiuskonis, as saying there would be eight five-man patrols. They were to consist of an officer, two soldiers and two Soviet Interior Ministry soldiers in police uniforms.
Overnight, eight to 10 additional patrol squads with cars and perhaps armored personnel carriers will be on duty, the minister said. He said his forces would not participate.