Courtesy Reuters

For over two years Lithuania has been moving toward reclaiming its independence. This drive reached a crescendo on March 11, 1990, when the Supreme Soviet of Lithuania declared the republic no longer bound by Soviet law. The act reasserted the independence Lithuania had declared more than seventy years before, a declaration unilaterally annulled by the U.S.S.R. in 1940 when it annexed Lithuania as the result of a pact between Stalin and Hitler.

The decision to push for independence was made only about two weeks before its announcement by Sajudis, the Lithuanian Movement for Perestroika. The declaration reflected a consensus on the desire for independence, not its timing or the means to achieve it. Despite these differences, however, and the hardships a fight for independence promises, virtually all Lithuanians continue to support sovereignty for the republic-including a majority of the republic's non-Lithuanian residents.

Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev initially assumed independence was

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