February 16 in Russian history

1918: The Council of Lithuania (Lietuvos Taryba) proclaims Lithuania's independence from Russia and Germany. In 1915, Lithuania, a part of the Russian Empire at that moment, was occupied by German troops. By 1917 it was clear that there will be no decisive German victory and Germany attempted to get some support on the occupied lands by giving them a limited autonomy. A group of Lithuanian politicians and clerics decided to form a working group to decide on the future of Lithuania. This group convened the so called Vilnius Conference, which, in its own turn, elected the Council of Lithuania. The Council's politics was not really consistent. For example, in July 1918, they decided to establish a constitutional monarchy and offered the throne to a German duke Wilhelm von Urach and even named him king Mindaugas II, but four months later the offer was recalled. In December 1917, the council adopted a resolution to form a "firm and permanent alliance" with Germany based on common currency, economic policy, transportation system and military integration. These relationships with Germany made the establishment of diplomatic relationships with other countries, enemies of Germany, much more difficult. So, on February 16, the Council decides to "re-declare" the independence, breaking the alliance. German occupation was still an obstacle, and when it was over, after a number of Communist demonstrations in various Lithuanian cities, the Lithuanian Communists formed workers' councils. In December 1918, the Communist Party of Lithuania formed a new government, displacing the Council of Lithuania. Anyway, the Lithuanian newly formed army managed to drive away the alliance of Lithuanian Communists and the Soviet Red Army. On June 20, 1920, a peace treaty between Lithuania and Soviet Russia was signed, when Russian recognized the Lithuanian independence. Now, February 16 is a national holiday in Lithuania. Happy Independence Day, Lithuania!

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