KAUNAS, U.S.S.R., JAN. 23 -- Until 10 days ago, the tiny television station of Lithuania's second city was on the air just two hours a week, broadcasting a Sunday breakfast show featuring cats, dogs and gardening hints. Now Kaunas television is on nearly round the clock and is known as the voice, and video image, of the Lithuanian resistance.

In the early morning hours of Jan. 13, word reached station director Raimondas Sestakauskas that Soviet troops had stormed the television tower in the capital, Vilnius. The death toll was rising. With foreign journalists all over Vilnius, scenes of the attack were broadcast quickly abroad -- but not in Lithuania itself.

"I immediately rushed here to the Kaunas station in the middle of the night expecting that they would try to take this building too," Sestakauskas said. "Maybe their military intelligence was bad, maybe they just figured we were not powerful enough, but the army left us alone."

And so with that opening, the directors at Kaunas television went on the air throughout the republic with videotape of the army assaults. For days, they showed footage of soldiers shooting into the crowds, the dead laid out on stretchers, an old woman throwing her blue umbrella under the treads of a tank. They were powerful, sickening scenes, the ultimate answer to some official reports that the 13 civilian deaths in Vilnius were the results of "traffic accidents" and "heart attacks."

In many ways, the television towers of Vilnius and Kaunas are the most accurate symbols of the confrontation between Moscow and Lithuania. Information and images are the ultimate weapons now.

In Vilnius, army tanks and troops still surround the television tower. Outside, Lithuanians have made a shrine of the muddy grounds, heaping flowers and lighting tallows around a wooden carving of a remorseful, seated Christ. In a TV studio inside, a colonel wearing a civilian suit appears on the air and takes the Moscow line in his reports: The Lithuanian government is responsible for the confrontation.

The army officers now running Vilnius television searched for programs to put on the air, but discovered that shows such as "The Fifth Wheel" on the Leningrad station and Television Service News (TSN), an irreverent late-night news program from Moscow, were defiantly broadcasting foreign footage of the crackdown in the Baltic states. So they looked elsewhere. Viewers in Lithuania were especially outraged when army, as well as national, television showed a 10-minute film describing the "valiant heroism" of the Soviet troops and the "brutality" of the democratically elected Lithuanian government.

"If you watch the Vilnius programs now it's like going back in time to the Brezhnev era," said Virgilijus Cepaitis, a leader of the Lithuanian parliament, referring to the Kremlin leader who died in 1982. "They are practicing the art of 'The Big Lie.' "

Because the army occupies the Vilnius tower, the signal from Kaunas is hard to get in the capital. Sometimes the broadcasts are visible in Vilnius, but as if through a snowstorm. But Kaunas, a city of 500,000, has been able to set up a relay system so that now its signal is clear in the rest of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, eastern Poland and southern Finland. So far the army has not interfered in Kaunas, but local volunteers have set up concrete barricades around the station just in case.

"This is the only public broadcasting left in Lithuania and so we decided to give air time to anyone who asks for it," Sestakauskas said. "When the Communist Party chief in Kaunas asked to defend the actions {in Vilnius} he went right on. For five minutes he kept saying that the Communist Party was the only progressive force in the country and we let people form their own opinions. But finally, the host said to him, 'How do you look people in the eyes after all that happened in Vilnius?' "

The studios here are shabby, the equipment ancient, the budget almost nonexistent. Many of the shows have the improvised feel of a minor cable station. But Lithuanians have come here to show their support for the station and to ask the directors and technicians to make sure they stay on the air. One peasant woman came from her village with a basket of eggs and said, "Eat them. Be strong. We need you." Another peasant woman brought a plaster statue of Saint Barbara as a sign of support, and within minutes the statue was on the desk of the host who broadcasts the news.

At noon today, local university students went on the air to read reports of army harassment in Kaunas. There was news of 19 people still missing since last week, news of troops abducting young men, beating them and forcing them "to drink an unidentified red liquid."

Kaunas television is not alone in opposing the official broadcasts in Vilnius and the hard-line position taken on the national state news program "Vremya." Independent newspapers in Lithuania, such as Respublika, the Dawn of Lithuania and Vilnius Talking, have all published detailed accounts of the military operations in the republic and wide-ranging opinion pieces.

But so far television, especially Kaunas television, is the rallying point of the resistance to the Kremlin crackdown -- a fact that the military may now be taking into account. Several times, callers to the station identifying themselves as officers of the Interior Ministry troops have threatened the station with a violent shutdown not unlike the assaults in Vilnius.

"We don't have tanks, we don't have much at all to win our war for independence," Sestakauskas said. "But we plan to resist, and the resistance now is a matter of the strength of character, and television."