The Medal of January 13 was issued to commemorate the tragic events that took place in Vilnius on 13 January 1991 and to honour persons, citizens of Lithuania and foreign nationals, for outstanding performance in defending the freedom and independence of Lithuania in January - September 1991.
The Medal of January 13 is the first distinction instituted in the restored State of Lithuania. Compared to the other state decorations of Lithuania, Medal of January 13 is the most frequently awarded distinction. During the nine years around three thousands Lithuanian citizens and foreign nationals received this award.
For a strong support to the cause of independence of Lithuania the Medal of January 13 was conferred on the first President of the Russian Federation, Boris Yeltsin, in 1991. The recipients of this Medal include other foreign politicians who supported and contributed to the independence of Lithuania.
The Medal was designed by sculptor Pivoriunas. The badge of the Medal is minted by the Company "Gurtana". The ribbon for the Medal was at first produced by the Lithuanian Textiles Instituted; now it is manufactured in Denmark.