In June 1975, Instructor R. Patašius of the Kaunas Poly-technical Institute (KPI) was summoned to the military commissariat. KGB employee Rusteika was waiting for him there. After stating that the Politechnical Institute was under his jurisdiction, Rusteika invited R. Patašius to security headquarters for a "talk", which lasted about four hours.
From the very start, Instructor R. Patašius was charged with being a vehement anti-Soviet agitator and an evil person.
"You know, you can immediately be fired from your job," stated Rusteika.
"Fire me, if you can," boldly replied R. Patašius. "Only the sooner, the better."
Rusteika charged that Patašius, as a member of the independent film studio KPI-FILM, is known for his anti-Soviet views and had defamed the Soviet system in private conversations.
Patašius was ordered to report in detail on the moods and views of other film studio members. Patašius did not reply to such questions.
"I am prepared to repeat and confirm whatever I have ever said myself, but I am not prepared to be an informer and squealer. Find out on your own, if you need to."
Rusteika was very interested in Patašius' relationship with P. Kimbrys. He asked what subjects they discussed, whether thay discussed religious questions.
"We discussed everything that can be of interest and is of interest to young people, including religion. We even discussed politics."
"What will you accomplish by doing this?" asked Rusteika in an agitated manner.
"Maybe nothing, but that still does not mean that a person cannot have personal opinions on all questions that interest him."
"Then perhaps you don't like the Soviet system?"
"The system is the system," replied Patašius, "but there are things that do not impress me at all."
As an example, Patašius cited the fact that in 1969 he could not perform his pre-graduation training work merely because he received neither a "specform" in time (a loyalty certificate, required for employment in industry working on military contracts — Ed. Note) nor a negative reply. Thus he was unable to defend his graduate degree project.
At the end of the "talk," Rusteika expressed the opinion that Patašius would probably keep this meeting secret.
"No," stated Patašius, "such meetings will not bring me dishonor, and I will not promise to lie and deceive for you."
In September 1975 P. Kimbrys, former KPI film laboratory employee and member of the KPI-FILM studio, was summoned to the security police. He was interrogated by Rusteika and told that the security police had already collected all the information needed to convict him.
"But today we are not living in the 50's," explained the security agent. "Then, we would have talked to you differently, because different demands were placed on us. Now, much will depend on your honesty during this talk."
Then Rusteika listed the charges against Kimbrys: he is known for his anti-Russian views; he keeps on the wall of his room a map of the 16th century Grand Duchy of Lithuania ("from sea to sea"); he had a copy of the "Archives of Lithuania" in his home; he has helped in publishing the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, and so on. When Kimbrys asked on what evidence he was charged with those things, Rusteika replied that the case was not yet closed and he, therefore, could not reveal all the facts. Kimbrys remarked that he did not consider it a crime to hang on the wall a map which can be found in any Lithuanian history textbook. Regarding the books mentioned and other underground literature, he categorically denied these charges.
Rusteika inquired whether Kimbrys knew which of his friends could have helped publish such literature and asked him to characterize "what kind of people" were the other members of KPI-FILM.
The more than four-hour-long interrogation ended with Kimbrys giving written answers to questions, and promising to "draw conclusions." As he was saying good-bye, Rusteika mentioned that he would probably be seeing Kimbrys again.
Such interrogations are not the first in the history of the independent KPI-FILM studio. The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania has knowledge of additional instances of persecution:
At the end of 1971, the then head of KPI-FILM, Kaunas Polytechnical Institute (KPI) Automation Department fifth-year student V. Mizaras was questioned by security agent Rubys about the mood of his fellow students.
During the months of January, February and March 1972, the studio's vice-president, Automation Department fourth-year student V. Vačkys was intensively invited and recruited to work for the security police.
In June 1972, the work contract with then-studio-head R. Kausa was suddenly cancelled (we speculate that the guiding motives were identical to those used earlier to deny Kausa admission to any Lithuanian school of higher education—namely "forcible emigration" during his youth "to polar bear country . . ."). Since then, KPI-FILM has not had a salaried head . . .
In June 1972 KPI-FILM members, E. Smelenskas and F. Girininkas were cross-examined at the security police.
During 1972-1973, KPI Film Lab employee (Miss) L. Blat-nytė was interrogated regarding KPI-FILM and also given a recruitment talk.
In the fall of 1973, studio member V. Lavanavičius was summoned to the security police.
At the end of 1974, KPI Film Lab employee Č. Butavičius provided the security police with evidence against KPI-FILM.
KPI-FILM was founded 15 years ago and survived with the help of student support. It was long known as one of the most productive independent film groups and the only permanent film studio in a Baltic school of higher education. Studio members have produced several dozen films: about youth (Our Time — Youth; From 9 to 17), about their city (Steps of Time), about famous cultural and scientific leaders: Maironis, A Man Close to Our Hearts (about Professor Academician K. Baršauskas), The Face (about folklorist B. Buračas) and many others. The studio played a major role in the life of Lithuanian students; it expanded their horizons, provided information about the art and scientific world and encouraged creative thought. But as it carried out its modest and unobtrusive work, the group still caused alarm. Perhaps the subject matter of the studio's films seemed undesirable. (The Face captured first place at the Lithuanian Film Festival, but was not selected for the Baltic Republics' independent film review, for supposedly poor technical quality. . .) Perhaps the fact that this small group of enthusiastic amateurs could not be penetrated by the vigilant ear of the KGB caused annoyance.
Regardless of why, the studio actually exists only on paper, without a head, without its most active members, who have dispersed to seek a more peaceful occupation . . .
This is not the first time in the history of Soviet Lithuania that the wings of youth's imagination have been clipped. We need only recall the "Campaigner Generation" (in May 1969 the restoration work they undertook at the birthplaces of S.(te-ponas) Darius and S.(tasys) Girėnas was labeled "the greatest ideological diversion since 1956" at a Kaunas party leadership meeting), the tragedy of the national heritage movements, the fate of the KPI student music clubs, Pepklubas and Liaudies Daina, the countless discussion clubs which sprang up unnotice-ably and were silently weeded out. . .
But how should this be labeled: the limitless possibilities afforded the Lithuanian youth by the Soviet system or the unending hardships imposed by the Soviet system on the youth of Lithuania?