To: The Chairman of the USSR Security Committee, I.V. Andropov
On December 23, 1974 five chekists and two activists of the Communist Youth League came to "wish me a Merry Christmas." In lieu of a Christmas present, they brought a search warrant. In a sense, this is an anniversary, for exactly 30 years ago my parents' home was searched for the first time (Krisvasalis Village, Ignalina Rayon).
During 1944-47 I was searched many times without authorization from the Attorney General. During 1949-1955, the chekists were too busy to waste their time on searches. They merely summoned me to the military commissariat and from there took me to the MGB.
After the 20th Party Congress, I was usually searched with formal authorization from the Attorney General. Sometimes, I am searched in secret. For instance, on October 16, 1964 they came to the home of my mother-in-law Uršulė Keraitienėe and took her to security headquarters to discuss the affairs of her son-in-law, who, in their words, seldom goes to church and has chosen Russian friends and even Jews in his fight against the Soviet government. At the same time, other chekists inspected my books and notes.
Why have I been terrorized by the KGB for over thirty years ?
My parents owned barely three hectares of land and therefore often had to work for large farm owners. In 1940 the Soviet government gave them three hectares, and in 1944 seven. During 1940-1941 my uncle often tried to convince my father that only "Father" Stalin had saved our family from poverty. Nevertheless, on June 14, 1941 he was deported to Siberia with his wife and small children. On the way, he was separated from his family and sent to a labor camp where he died several months later. Hi wife also died of starvation.
The night of June 14 to 15, 1941 is indelibly etched in my memory. My parents went to bid farewell to those being deported to Siberia. While waiting for them, I, a 13-year-old boy, became an adult. That night an unquenchable hatred for Stalin was born in my soul . . . When, as a student, I had to listen to lectures about Stalin's selfless love for the Lithuanian nation, I detested even those who were spreading this lie.
In June 1941 the Russians were replaced by the Germans. They shot people merely because they had been born Jews. I detested Fascism and terrorism with my whole being and I was happy to be of help to Russian war prisoners. However, I was amazed that in the fall of 1942 in Švenčionėliai, Russian-speaking guards did not allow me to approach them. Only during the winter, when the prisoners were guarded by old German soldiers, was I able to give the prisoners my last morsel of bread.
My parents often took in escaped Russian war prisoners and helped them. However in the spring of 1945 the returning Soviet Army thanked my father by "arresting" him. Actually, they were content with merely beating him.
On July 27th I was arrested for belonging to an underground organization, "The Iron Wolf," of which I did not even know. When NKVD soldiers handed us, six "wolves," over to the head of the Švenčioniai KBZ, he berated them for not having shot us on the spot, because "all Lithuanians are Fascists and bandits." At the time, those bandits were only 13-16 years old. Not only my family, but no one in our village served the occupant. The call-up by the German Army was answered by only one young man and he later ran away. No one joined the Red Army either. The youth of Krisvasalis became Lithuanian partisans (whom you call bandits). I did not follow their example because I was afraid of weapons and blood, and hoped to survive those years without joining anything. Despite this, security agencies did not allow me to remain an impartial observer.
I was first arrested in 1945 for two months. During those two months I learned many valuable lessons. Lieutenants Mikolaičikas and Pavlov and Sergeant Kizenkov kept fit by beating me and my friends with rifle butts, gun cleaning rods and other tools, they even set the stage for shooting us by ordering us to dig our own graves.
Despite all this, I did not return from prison with any feeling of hatred for my tormentors. I quickly forgot everything, I forgave everything. However, the security police did not forget anything. Security agents probably thought that in two months they had succeeded in turning me into an aware Lithuanian, and began their surveillance on me. They often searched me on trips—in bu3es and trains.
In the fall of 1946 I came to Vilnius to study and rented a room with my friend V. We were different individuals. V.'s father and brother had already been convicted in 1945 and another brother, the leader of a partisan group, had died in March 1945 in the Labanoras forest in a battle between the NKVD army and 400-500 partisans. V.'s friends—Juozas Bulika and Adolfas Kuryla— were not my friends. However, on May 19, 1949, I was taken to the MGB and charged with maintaining contact with them. It seems that Kuryla had been arrested and Bulika had been recruited and sent to infiltrate a partisan group. V., who was a friend of Bulika and Kuryla, was not even summoned by the MGB. Why? Is it not because he went into hiding in May 1949 to keep from being arrested in our "case," and I was given the opportunity to acquaint myself with a Soviet prison and I seemed more dangerous than he in the eyes of the MGB?
In April 1950, I was again taken to MGB headquarters. Because I had joined the Communist Youth League in 1949, the chekists suggested that I provide information on the alleged defection of their agent Bulika to the enemy. I was also assigned to observe the mood of the students and report by telephone. Not once did I telephone and I was temporarily left in peace.
On April 2, 1952 my friend A. was arrested, charged with organizing dissent against Lithuanian SSR Supreme Soviet Chairman J. Paleckis. Captain Danilchev (today a VRM colonel) tried to persuade me, as member of the Communist Youth League and the son of a poor family, to help provide information on A., the son of a landowner.
When I refused, Cap. Danilchev threatened, in the name of the KGB, to hold this against me for life. In the fall of that year, at the request of Monochina, the head of personnel at the Vilnius State University, I was expelled from the Communist Youth League, threatened with expulsion from the university and induction into the army. I was saved by my beggarly social background and most important by Stalin's death. Chekist Bulygin (today an attorney) threatened to "put me away," but he also was prevented by Stalin's death.
After graduating from the university in 1954, I began to work at the Lithuanian branch office of the USSR State Bank. There were no Lithuanians in the department where I worked. Russians who had worked here for ten or more years (some had worked in Lithuania since 1940-1941) knew not a single word of Lithuanian and nothing about Lithuania. I could not convince them that the Lithuanian language was not a German dialect, that Lithuanians did not collaborate with the Germans during World War II and that Lithuania was the only German-occupied country where they did not succeed in forming an SS legion (for which the occupant closed all Lithuanian high schools and some middle schools.) They used to ask me what language I spoke with my daughter and to which school I intended to send her. I had to explain that the national consciousness of Lithuanians was superior to the national awareness of the nomads of the Soviet North. You should have seen the faces of my listeners when I lectured them on such historical facts as, that Lithuania once ruled such cities as Kiev, Kursk, Minsk, Smolensk and that the northern city of Odessa was founded by Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautas! So the rumor started that I was a nationalist. Complaints began to flow to the KGB. The bureaucrats persuaded Manager Knyva to remove me from the office.
In the fall of 1955, I was transferred to the Dzerzhinski section and my salary was cut. However, the "thaw" after Stalin's death was still in effect and the manager reassigned me to the office, appointed me assistant city manager, and allowed me to study for my doctoral degree.
After Stalin's death, there started a movement to found Lithuanian schools in Lithuanian ethnographic territories which had been assigned to Byelorussia. I also joined this movement, which was under the leadership of Academician J. Balčikonis and T. Ivanauskas. Together with students we went to Byelorussia, visited Lithuanian villages, brought Lithuanian-language Soviet newspapers and Lithuanian-language Soviet books. At the same time, Lithuanian schools were also being founded in Poland's former Lithuanian sections. I corresponded with the teachers of those schools and sent them Lithuanian-language Soviet books. I did not think that my activity was against the Soviet Constitution. Nonetheless, the KGB thought otherwise. They sent their agent Titlius, an employee of the "Vaizdas" printers, into the ranks of active members. He suggested to V. Laugalis that an undergraound organization "The National Front" be established and sought to have an economist at its head. During the Hungarian uprising Laugalis invited me to a meeting of people who thought as he did. Only one of Laugalis' friends came: J. Semėnas. We adjourned without reaching any decision. Several months later Laugalis asked me to take type from Titlius' printing firm. I refused. With this my underground activity came to an end. The spirit of Hungary quickly dissipated. The Lithuanian "conspirators" also quieted down. Laugalis left to teach in arayon school. However, a year after our first and last meeting, the KGB decided to arrest us.
A search on Christmas Eve 1957 yielded no incriminating evidence. The security police interrogated me two days without a break, using the achievements of Academician Pavlov in the field of conditioned reflexes. When even this did not work, they gave me strong narcotics. Cap. (now Colonel) Kolgov persuaded me to drink a bottle of lemonade . . . Afterwards, for an entire week, I was unsure not only of my own fate, but also of that of my family. At the dictation of the Captain, I wrote a "Sincere confession."
Existence in the KGB prison was bearable. All means were used to break my morale; as if by coincidence I was placed in cell 27, from the window of which I could see my pregnant wife at the bus stop each morning taking our four-year-old daughter to nursery school. I was not allowed to shave for an entire month, and was then taken to see my parents, in order to torment them with my appearance and me with my parents' tears. After realizing that I bore solitary confinement well, they brought to my cell Jesuit Father Aleksandras Markaitis, whose health had been completely broken. Imprisoned for the third time, Markaitis suffered from insomnia and the fear that he would immediately be summoned by Col. Martavičius (now head of personnel at the Vilnius trade department) and badly beaten as in
1949. On quiet spring nights we used to hear the tape recorded voices of my children . . .
In addition to allegedly belonging to "The National Front," I was also charged with undermining the foundations of Soviet Marxist philosophy and disseminating the speeches and will of LSSR Supreme Soviet Deputy, Lithuanian classical author Antanas Žukauskas Vienuolis. During the August 1, 1956 session, Vienuolis condemned the polonization of the Vilnius area, and during the spring 1957 session he was not allowed to defend our exiles in Siberia. However both speeches and his will (in which Vienuolis requested that a cross be erected on his grave) were circulated in underground Lithuanian publications.
My accusers did not even dare include such "evidence of guilt" in my case file. However, this evidence played a vital role in determining the length of my sentence. During recesses at the Supreme Court trial Attorney General Galinaitis often ran behind the scenes and huddled with the judge at length. We saw photostatic copies of the above-mentioned evidence in the hands of the Attorney General. They did not forget, either, my ties to the Lithuanians of Byelorussia and Poland. Although, as Interrogator Pilelis asserted, those ties could not be used under the article of the Criminal Code, they did however give foundation to my being characterized as a Lithuanian nationalist.
The court could not prove anti-Soviet agitation which I allegedly carried out at philosophy seminars. Therefore, I was sentenced to only four years. I was convicted not because of actions performed, but because I could have performed them had the vigilant chekists not prevented me.
Seven intellectuals whom I did not know were also tried in our case. One of them was charged with distributing selected works of the Lithuanian classical author Juozas Tumas-Vaižgantas and the poem Vivos Plango, Mortuos Voco by Vincas Mykolaitis-Putinas. The trial "proved" that the poet wrote this poem in 1947, and that therefore it is anti-Soviet. After the trial Capt. Chlopov (now Colonel) assured me: "The extreme climate and hard physical work will cleanse your mind, which has been polluted with nationalistic trash." And how they cleansed it! On one Ozerlag construction site I experienced much hardship. But, when I returned to my homeland, I quickly came to feel that, in the opinion of certain bureaucrats, my mind had not been "cleansed" sufficiently to entrust me with the position of economist at a salary of 100 rubles.
Finally I was able to find work as a dispatcher.
I left many friends at the labor camps and I regularly corresponded with them. The KGB did not like this. Surveillance was strengthened. The KGB even tried to recruit a close relative, who was supposed to follow me. I wrote about my troubles to R. Skeiveris at the labor camp. Summonses to "talk" with the KGB increased. Col. Dušauskis (now in the reserves), Chief Knedis of the Counter-intelligence Department, Lieut. Col. Kardonovsky, Chekist Karpuchin, of unknown rank and duties, Capt. ŠČesnavičius (now Lieut. Col.) all accused me of nationalism. I, in turn, asked them why Russians, Arabs and Africans are proud of their nationalism, but a Lithuanian must be ashamed of his. Why love of Russia is considered Soviet patriotism, but love of Lithuania a bourgeois nationalism? A high-ranking chekist made me an offer: either I write a newspaper article condemning the social system of the once-independent state of Lithuania, or once again I would find myself on trial. I did not write the article. The case was transferred to the people's court of the "Puntukas" factory. V. Grabauskas, head of the laboratory, agreed to re-educate me. He used obvious means to change my views: he tried to force me to become a group leader, join a union, he invited me to participate in holiday demonstrations. For my disobedience Grabauskas imposed economic sanctions: I was paid a salary 30% lower than that paid workers with a high-school education. My family of six lived in a 23-meter apartment with no conveniences. My wife had been promised a promotion and a two-room apartment. Someone telephoned her superior and the dream of improved living conditions vanished.
In the fall of 1967 I was detained near the KGB offices by Cap. ŠČesnavičius and forced to have a "talk." He accused me of spreading anti-Soviet rumors which lurk in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's letter to the USSR writers' convention. He tried to persuade me that the letter had been fabricated by foreign intelligence and that this would be revealed by Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn himself.
At that time I was taking a correspondence course in history at the State University of Vilnius. I publicly defended my country's history three times. The KGB recorded my statements. On May 23, 1968, at a discussion held at the "Sigma" literary club, I accused playwright Dalia Urneviciutė and other writers of distorting historical truth. As a result, Capt. Ščesnavičius and Chekist Karpuchin again tried to bring me to trial. However, even those who had suffered at my hands refused to be lying witnesses.
For some time I attended lectures on the history of the Lithuanian state and Russian literature along with doctoral candidates. Soon, Vilnius State University Assistant Rector B. Sudavičius banned me from attending these lectures. At the beginning of 1969, he called an urgent meeting of the Lithuanian History Faculty and demanded that professors use every means to prevent my earning a history degree. This task was undertaken by Dr. S. Lazutka, who offered to advise me in my doctoral work. Although I was aware that Lazutka was active in the Communist Party (he was a section head) and was Assistant Rector of the Vilnius State University, I still fell for his pseudoliberalism. I wrote my thesis on the subject "Lithuania under Russian Rule (1795-1915)" and submitted it to my advisor. On the morning of April 25th, I was visited by three security agents, including Capt. Ščesnavičius. They confiscated old pre-war magazines, books on Lithuanian history, and notes from books and magazines. Several days later, when he returned the rough draft of my thesis, Major Kazys (now Colonel) warned me: If I value my freedom, I must not show anyone my work, which is steeped in hatred for Russia. . . Prison for lack of love for Tsarist Russia? Why must I love her? Because it weakened the Lithuanian-Polish state by diplomatic and military means and brought slavery to my nation in 1795? Or perhaps because my father was forced to fight in the defense of her imperialist interests? My father returned from the war an invalid.
At that time, the KGB continued trying to make a case against me. Someone named Juozas Bernotas appeared. He urged me and V. Petkus to help him fight the Soviet government, he berated us for our passivity and so on. He suggested that we form a committee for the defense of Ginsberg and Galanskov. This experienced agent provocateur did not succeed.
When I returned home late in the evening of January 14, 1972 I found Capt. Trakimas (now Major). He took me to hear the long and insulting monologues of Col. Ščesnavičius.
That night, a search of Pyotr Yakir's apartment in Moscow turned up Simas Kudirka's speech at his trial, and in the Vilnius apartment of Stasys Jakas, a typewriter on which this speech had been typed. The KGB decided that this was my work. Again I was summoned to the KGB, interrogated. . . The KGB accused Jakas, a Communist, and his friend Vaclovas Sevrukas, a member of the Communist Youth League, of having been lured by nationalists; they urged him to help unmask the nationalists, and promised him freedom in exchange for evidence against me. When they did not obtain any evidence to "unmask" me, the KGB could not prosecute me. But Col. Baltinas predicted that "by walking on the edge of an abyss, you will soon find yourself in prison."
On May 23, 1973 the militia detained two confectionary department expediters: L. Geicas and F. Svirskis. I was temporarily in charge of that department. The expediters admitted that during the quarter they had shipped 210 rubles worth of goods without authorization": At militia headquarters three confectionary department employees asserted that over nine months I had stolen a large sum of money with which I financed the nationalist underground. In exchange for testimony against me, the expediters who were caught with the evidence were released, and I was arrested.
Everyone at the city militia was jubilant. First Lieut. Ged-mantas boasted that he had had me under surveillance for several years and had been assigned to fabricate a bribery case against me. "Then," he said, "a 15-year sentence would have been a certainty, but now we will still have to work on it."
The interrogation began not with an explanation of the facts in the case, but with conversation on side issues. Major Lashchenko, who was easily recognized as trained by the KGB, treated me like a condemned man and was surprisingly honest. Speaking on the subject of nationalism, I agreed that small countries must be assimilated. But the loss of their identity will take place over several centuries and, therefore, I saw no need to accelerate it by artificial means. But the Major asserted that the natural process of assimilation is "painful," and for that very reason all means used to accelerate the blending of nations is justified. He condemned my views and ended the "discussion" with the following words: "You did not see how we crushed the Hungarian uprising. If you had seen it, you Lithuanians would not raise your heads. Lithuania! Your Lithuania is like a flea, see (he made an expressive gesture with his thumbnail) and it is gone!"
After searching my apartment Major Lashchenko returned only with copies of old Lithuanian magazines. As my family later told me, the Major was extremely upset by the map which hung in my room (a map printed in Soviet Poland) depicting Lithuania in the 16th century. How can such a map be shown to school children?
In the detention cell (KPZ) there always happen to be prisoners in similar circumstances, someone happens to have the means of contacting the outside world and is prepared to help you. There are stories about the punishment you can expect, about the futility of resisting the government, about the possibility of freedom (if you are submissive and collaborate with them). As a rule, during the first most difficult days, these persons try to explain the things the interrogator failed to instill. With me there "happened" to be the assistant chief of the Vilnius industrial supply department, J. Žemaitis, whose childhood friend was none other than KGB Colonel Dushansky. Because I did not fall for the suggestions of the "benefactor", the gates of the Lukiškis prison closed behind me several days later. There were six of us in an eight-square-meter cell. My new friends were murderers, robbers, pickpockets and retarded teenagers. It was unbearably stifling from the cheap tabacco smoke and the stench of the toilet. The soup was made from dried potatoes and salted tomatoes (9 rubles per month were alloted for food). Several days later I was transferred to a similar cell. This also is done purposely, because rumors quickly spread about a person who is transferred often from cell to cell, that he is a "stool pigeon," (a recruited agent). Such persons are usually killed by the prisoners.
The KGB agent at the Lukiškis prison, Major Strelchenya, entered my cell and spoke to me as to an old friend, though I had never seen him before. The prisoners could also have killed me for my connection with the "godfather" (security agent). All the news was discouraging. Luggage thief A. Gorelov assured me that he had read of Academician Sakharov's death in Izvestia. . . However, the thief Lionius who was right there remembered seeing this same Gorelov at the Vilnius station wearing a militia officer's uniform.
I was assigned a new interrogator, 1st Lieut. Vasiliauskas, who tried very hard to build a strong criminal case, but there was no evidence except for the testimony of those two expediters. I wrote to the Vilnius City District Attorney, citizen Topol, asking permission to meet with my lawyer. I received a negative reply, stating that since I am an adult and not blind, I can meet with my lawyer only when the interrogation is completed. The interrogator forwarded my case to the psychiatric commission, and also transferred me to the cell of the swindler Boris Bernstein who was serving a 15-year sentence. Bernstein, acting the lawyer, assured me that I would perish in the cellars of the psychiatric prison hospital. Although the commission found me sane on June 12th, on August
4th I was housed in cell 379 of the prison psychiatric hospital. It is difficult to describe in words the suffering of its inhabitants and the atmosphere. Anicetas Skarulis, Vaclovas Strupinskas, Jonas Liubartas, Petras Ivanauskas are all very unfortunate. One sings, another prays, a third looks for food in the toilet. . . They all cry from the painful aminazine injections with which they are treated three times daily. Valius Šaltis, who is only feigning insanity, is also being "treated" with aminazine. His family history is sad: his father, a Communist, was shot by the Germans. The oldest son was tied to a tree next to his murdered father and lost his sanity during the night. The mother remarried and this was her 19-year-old son Valius . . . Informers in the cells and eavesdroppers in the hallways have long since informed the prison administrators that Valius is feigning insanity. It is no secret that the administration can also observe the behavior of prisoners on television monitors. Then why must he be tortured with aminazine?
From time to time Doctor Strimaitienė would visit the cell. In her eyes, you could see nothing but burning hatred for her patients. It is not without reason that one prisoner, locked up here for distributing leaflets in the city of Panevėžys, assured me that this hospital's psychiatrists were themselves seriously ill. Only they heal themselves not with aminazine . . .
As a rule, one is not taken from the psychiatric hospital for interrogation. But interrogator Vasiliauskas, intending to apply greater pressure, considered it appropriate to summon me and inform me that my wife was in critical condition following an operation, that my children were alone, that I was suspected of having schizophrenia and that new charges had been brought against me. At the same time, he started a rumor in Vilnius that I was in a psychiatric hospital.
Security agents tried to convince my wife that a severe sentence was in store for me and that it would be best if she were to certify that I was mentally ill! My wife replied with two protests.
On October 8th I was summoned by the attending physician, Dr. Senionienė. Before beginning the interview, she gave me some kind of pill. She was only interested in my political views and asked questions that only a KGB agent would ask. As she was leaving, she stated that I would have to "be a guest" of this hospital until spring. But four days later I was unexpectedly summoned by the commission which had obviously been convened to confirm the finding that I was mentally ill.
Although I was not given any medication detrimental to my health and the medical staff treated me with unusual courtesy, I am nevertheless convinced that most of the employees of this hospital are paid not by the health department alone . . . The hands of these doctors would undoubtedly not falter in fulfilling the vilest order from "above." If my wife had not protested, I would have been released with my health damaged to the same extent as that of doctoral student Mindaugas Tamonis when he returned from the hospital.
Prisoners are usually taken from the hospital cell to the prison interrrogation cell. I was placed for three days in a solitary confinement cell with broken windows. Then I was thrown into cell 149, occupied by a chronic psychiatric hospital patient, the murderer Stasys Jonaitis, and a patient feigning insanity. Living conditions were worse than in the psychiatric cell. Only after urgent demands and protests was I transferred to cell 73, where most of the prisoners were comparatively sane. When I looked into a shard of glass (instead of a mirror) I saw a very sick man. . .
Interrogations continued. They began taking me to the city militia for interrogations and often transported me by passenger car, obviously so I could catch a glimpse of fall in Vilnius and then contrast that sight with my life in the filthy Lukiškis hole.
Sometimes I was allowed to meet with my brothers. Because my wife was gravely ill, meetings and news from home were never happy. At the same time, pressure was being increased during interrogations. When Interrogator Vasiliauskas could not find any proof of my guilt, he made every effort to wring testimony from witnesses, even during face-to-face confrontations. For instance, on November 2nd, he corrected the transcript in which the testimony of witness G. Matveika was inaccurately related, only after I threatened to jump out of the window or slash my wrists. Because I refused to sign the transcripts, he began to fabricate face-to-face confrontations, which had not even taken place.
During the trial the defense attorney demanded that I be acquired because my guilt had not been proven. I was nevertheless given a one-year sentence. They could not "squeeze out" any more than that. I must admit that our present trials are not as they were in 1958. Now at least formal proof of guilt is required. And a year is still not considered punishment here. Moreover, after spending seven months in prison before the trial, one cannot expect to be acquitted. Such events do not occur here.
During the remaining five months, I was still in great danger.
Despite my requests that I be placed in an solitary cell after the trial, I was assigned a common cell. I had great difficulty defending myself here, among criminals. Belongings were taken away, weak persons were beaten, eighteen would gang up on one, at random. They tried to force me to participate also. When I refused, they threatened that, if the victim was to die, they would testify that I had instigated the fight.
On January 18, 1974, I was taken to the Vilnius strict regime labor camp, on the site of the former Visitationist Fathers monastery and the nearby Sacred Heart of Jesus Church. Here the ever-present eye of the security police could also be felt. This eye was assistant head of the work detail Ivanov. The labor camp was full of agents provocateurs. They offered their services in every way imaginable, with the intention of dragging me into the midst of swindlers. On my last night at the labor camp, the warehouse where I worked was robbed. The agents spread the rumor that my friends were responsible. Interrogations began. Fortunately, no witnesses were found . . .
After returning home I hoped that I had already been sufficiently punished for my national and political views and the KGB would leave me in peace. My hope did not come true. After a few days I was again summoned by militia Capt. Deneikin and later by Lieut. Ganatauskas. He treated me very roughly. The Lieutenant informed me that he had the right to summon me for "a talk" every month for five years, so that I would not decide, for instance, to steal a fire hose from the theater where I worked as a fireman.
On December 2, 1974 I went to the "open" trial of my acquaintance Petras Plumpa and his friends. I was allowed in, but the next day I was asked to leave the courtroom.
During the performances of the American City Center Joffrey Ballet Company I was barred from coming to work at the theater under orders from the KGB. I then came as a spectator. I was later followed by Chief Mykolas Šližys of the Fire Prevention Bureau who forbade me to enter the employee cafeteria for a mug of beer. Three tails under the orders of KGB agent for Vilnius theater facilities First Lieut. Gulbin followed me even into the men's room.
After the Americans had left, the above-mentioned citizen Sližys, personnel director (Mrs) Lipšicienė and former theater director Laurušas had a talk with me. These theater employees stated that the Opera and Ballet Theater is an ideological institution, a cradle of Lithuanian culture, a primary objective under the protection of the KGB, which is demanding that I be dismissed because I see and hear too much here. In the words of the director, if a university graduate with two degrees works for 65 rubles, he is either sick or has other motives . . . They suggested that I write a voluntary letter of resignation. I asked the Prosecutor to defend me against discrimination. I was then transferred for nine months to monitor the automatic fire-prevention system in a closed booth, so I would have no opportunity to influence those who were true Soviet thinkers ...
On the morning of December 23, 1974 I was intercepted by chekists; they brought me back to my apartment and turned everything inside out looking for the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania. Major Kalakauskas was astonished that I, who in his view so hated everything Russian, would read Russian-language books. Was I not afraid of becoming russified? I assured the chekists that even my grandchildren would not become russified. And as for hatred, I am not the only one who is annoyed nowadays when an employee who has worked in Lithuania thirty or more years, insolently shouts: "Speak Russian!" or "I don't understand Lithuanian."
Here is just one of many facts: In 1972 I ordered some gas. It was not delivered. It was not delivered even after a repeat order. The reason: I ordered it in Lithuanian. I expressed my grievance not to the Chronicle but to the Lithuanian Communist Party organ Tiesa. Although my complaint was not printed, the gas company management for a time understood my native tongue. After my arrest they nonetheless paid back my family: for a long time they did not fill orders or delivered half-empty tanks. Currently they no longer take orders in Lithuanian. I will again have to demand and attain what is guaranteed by our Constitution. I do not like all of your laws, but, since I am a Soviet citizen, I respect them but demand that my rights be also respected.
My children are also under surveillance by the security police. During a search Major Krasnikov asked my wife's mother whether her son-in-law is not preventing the children from becoming Soviet citizens. During our talks, they constantly referred to them. "Special" attention is given them in school. For instance, on May 14, 1974 the homeroom teacher of my son Gintas summoned my wife and informed her that the school administration was very concerned that her 15-year old son had disappeared somewhere for a whole hour on a particular day (the first anniversary of the death of Romas
Kalanta). However, it is doubtful that this "concern" will have more influence on my children than life itself, which differs in so many respects from what they are taught in school. Searches, my arrests, summonses to the security police have had a greater influence on my children than Soviet or anti-Soviet activity. Even before coming into this world, they had fallen into a whirlpool of searches (in 1957 my wife was eight-months pregnant; on May 25, 1969 she was also pregnant and several days later gave birth to our one-month premature son Ramūnas). Later their bookcases and their children's clothes were subjected to searches. In 1972 when I was taken to the security police in a Gaz-69 car, three-year -old Ramūnas began from then on to fear that make of car . . . After returning from the courtroom he told his grandmother that he will blow up all prisons when he grows up. And yet no one prodded him.
I get the impression that the security police is trying by every means and on every occasion of "re-education" to frighten me, to break me physically and morally and turn me into an obedient robot. Many chekists have expressed this more than once without any qualms. As early as 1958 Capt. Jenkevičius (now reserve Col.) stated: "We must frighten you so you will be afraid, otherwise you will begin shooting at us from behind corners. If your knees don't shake when you pass the security police, they will shake when you return from Siberia." . . . On November 15, 1972 Capt. Markevičius (now Major) boasted that the court had sent all those he had interrogated into the next world.
At that moment, Major Kazys rushed into the office and quickly blurted out: "Terleckas? Aren't you in jail? I can't sleep, knowing you are walking our Soviet soil!"
And Col. Baltinas stated very candidly: "You will never live in peace." Quite recently after the funeral of Mindaugas Tamonis (11/10/75) during which I was a pall-bearer and silently participated until the end of the ceremonies, a chekist named Vladas threatened me through a 16-year-old student I know in the following terms: "We'll take care of you also." Does the KGB really think it will succeed in frightening me to the point that I will be afraid even to attend my friends' funeral?
Even summonses for "re-education" are made with the purpose of instilling terror. In July 1972, for example, I was taken down a long corridor where on every door the sign "interrogation in progress" was lit up. I knew that after the May demonstrations in Kaunas and the July events at the Sports Stadium, "guests" were plentiful at the security police. But were they all really being questioned at one time?
Because my acquaintances number many Russians and Jews, the chekists try to frighten them by assuring them that their friends are persons whose hands have been bloodied. God grant that our enemies' hands be as clean! I this regard, I would like to mention a man who has been serving over twenty-five years in labor camp. Jonas Abu-kauskas was the leader of a partisan group in 1948, and was given the order to shoot a "people's defender." The wife and young children begged mercy for their husband and father. Jonas did not carry out the order. Soon he himself surrendered to the government and started a family. He was arrested and sentenced to the firing squad. He spent nearly a year on death row. His wife has long ago remarried, and his daughters have never seen their father, but Jonas has never regretted having shown mercy to his enemies. At the prison camp, where only Lithuanians and Latvians lived in one barrack, he planned to escape. When the attempt failed, Abukauskas and three others assumed all responsibility. Their sentences were extended. If Jonas survives 28 years of imprisonment he will be my best, my dearest guest.
During closed meetings, security agents at various offices have no kind words for me. Hearing of this, my acquaintances try to frighten me also. They say that the time has now come to bury me. Nonetheless, I am not worried. First, because I am prepared for any sacrifice whatsoever. In my opinion, not a single drop of blood will be in vain. Second, because the KGB is afraid of my views, but do not believe I would dare take concrete action. Otherwise, they would follow me more circumspectly. Currently this is done too openly—I am followed by chekists whom I know by sight or, for instance, by theater director-administrator P. Vaivada. . . It seems that no one in Moscow is interested in us. But on March 3, 1975. the day we left from the Byelorussian station there appeared "our" agent who sometimes does surveillance duty at V. Petkus' apartment in Vilnius. . .
Although the KGB could find ways to dismiss me from the theater, it has thus far been content with harassment. In February of this year a convention of Lithuania's cultural employees was held at the theater. I was relieved of my duties. On November 6th, after being on duty for four hours, I was told to go home and return the next day, but even then I was told to leave. Don't they trust me? Don't they want me to see how, soldiers rush around on holidays looking for crowds and even search office desks? Although only seven firemen out of twenty-two are ex-prisoners, on November 7th, Albinas Žiedūnas, former choral director of Lithuania's ensembles who has spent fifteen years in labor camps and in exile, was on duty.
To top it all, in May of this year two television monitors (not at my post) disappeared. Security Capt. Bernatavičius questioned only me. In other words, I alone am a potential thief.
Following a search in December 1974,1 was asked at the security police whether I did not wish to change my political views. Certainly not! After living through so much in thirty years, I cannot become enamored of your government. In fact, not much is required of me: to praise the government occasionally and, during holiday demonstrations, to pass the reviewing stand with a sign or flag in hand. But I am cured of even such cheap concessions. I do not know how to love my enemy. And that the chekists are my enemies was clearly stated by Col. Baltinas. When I asked him how I should address him, his answer was precisely this:''Just don't use 'comrade'. You are my enemy." What does "enemy" mean if no action is taken? No trial has proven any anti-Soviet activity on my part. I never fought against the Soviet government and never agitated against it. Even without love, I can still be loyal to your government in Lithuania even under such circumstances. I remain silent. I have remained silent for five years of my own will. What does the KGB want from me when they conduct searches, summon me for interrogation, threaten me?
Citizen General, you are probably being assured that tens of thousands of Lithuanians have almost completely "quieted down" after serving in your labor camps. Only a handful of "madmen" continues a struggle doomed to defeat—their struggle against the Soviet government. You only need to deal with this small handful and Lithuania will be quiet and peaceful, like Byelorussia. Don't you believe it! During the Kaunas demonstration there was not a single labor camp inmate in the street.
You have probably not been told of the events that occured in 1972 at the Vilnius Sports Stadium during the international handball (played on a soccer-type field—Trans, note) tournament. Teenagers and students staged a noisy "sick-out" during the first days of the meet in support of Swedish, German and other teams, excluding the Soviet team. The next day it was necessary to hand out tickets in factories and workshops where Lithuanians make up barely 10-20% of the work force. Shouldn't we contemplate this? We should also consider why bi-lingual Russian and Lithuanian programs have disappeared in Vilnius schools? The nationalists could not have closed them down. I am certain that Lithuanian Communists are not guilty either. Then who is guilty?
First Lieutenant Daugalis said that, with my views, it is dangerous to live in Lithuania. But what should I do? I do not want to emigrate. For an aware Lithuanian there is less danger of assimilation in Lithuania than there, in the West. I do not consider the Lithuanian nation better than others. But I would consider it a great misfortune if I had to speak a foreign language with my grandchildren.
Our reality is very far from idea. But I believe in progress, and this progress, I think, does not require my help. Therefore, I remain aside from all Chronicles. . . although the KGB has more than once harassed me regarding them. I my view, the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania is dangerous to you only as a testimony of the Lithuanian underground. Well, with the Vatican's help you will deal with it also (The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania does not agree with this view of A. Terleckas. — Ed. Note.)
I hope everything will change for the better. Although Lithuanian Security Captain Markevičius mourns the passing of the Stalinist era,: although he regrets that today he cannot without interrogation or trial send me and "those like me" to the Arctic Regions to "incite the polar bears," those days will nonetheless not return. I ask you to direct the Lithuanian KGB to leave me in peace.
Respectfully yours, Antanas Terleckas
Vilnius, November 23, 1975
WHOSE TURN AFTER M.(INDAUGAS) TAMONIS?
In 1973 several members of the chorus were fired from the Opera and Ballet Theater for writing anti-Soviet slogans on the Vilnius Cathedral. In December 1974, a substantial "purge" of personnel was begun at the theater. Many who were politically unreliable were dismissed. Political prisoner Antanas Terleckas, employed as a fireman, anticipated this action and wrote a complaint to the city Prosecutor. A year later a new "purge" epidemic spread through the theater. One of the first victims was Assistant Director Algis Jasilionis who was accused of hiring a nationalist "element." He was forced to leave the theater "of his own free will." He was followed by several dozen engineering and service personnel employees.
On December 8, 1975 Terleckas was fired from his job. His transgression was that on November 9th he had absented himself from his post. That day, Terleckas had received permission to leave work for an hour to help a friend lay a wreath on Tamonis' grave. Realizing that Terleckas had witnesses, the theater management changed the order: now he was accused of leaving the theater on November 25th. On that very day he escorted Kovalev's wife to the railway station after she had brought her husband food.
Theater director-administrator Vaivada, local union committee chairman Vasiliauskas, and Chief Sinaitis of the Fire Prevention Bureau submitted subtantial fabricated "proof and personally spoke nothing but lies at the trial. The "weighty" points made by the theater management in firing Terleckas from his job is evident in the following conversation between fireman Terleckas and theater employee, USSR folk artist Jonas Stasiūnas:
"It's good you were only fired."
"And what else could they do to me?"
"But you were at the railway station to meet Sakharov!..."
"Yes I was, but I had already been fired. I don't see anything wrong in that. I love Sakharov and his friends, so I went. You go meet your friends, and I go meet mine . . ."
"You should raise your children to be Soviet individuals."
"What does that mean? To be cowards? There are already enough cowards in Lithuania."
"Therefore you are brave."
"If anything, you can certainly envy my courage. . ."
"Comrade Director, be sure to relate at the trial that Comrade Terleckas went to the station to meet Sakharov. No court will return him to his job. . ."
However, on January 15th, after three sessions, the court reinstated the fireman. The lies were too obvious. The court was forced to make a ruling extremely distasteful to the security police and the theater management.
After coming to work on January 16th, Terleckas did not boast of his triumph, he behaved unpretentiously, but was soon told to leave the theater by Vaivada, who claimed not to have received the court's ruling. The theater management will not be working for nearly an entire week because a party convention will be held at the facilities.
The conflict with the theater management (it is common knowledge that the security police stands behind it) made the unknown fireman famous. As soon as he showed up at the theater, the fireman was asked by the "purged" staff to relate his meetings with Sakharov, the details of Kovalev's trial and so on.
Security will of course make every effort to rid itself of this "agitator." A clash exists between the interests of the weak fireman and the omnipotent security police. How will it end?
When detained at the railway station, V. Petkus was told by security Colonel Baltinas: "Sevrukas and Tamonis stayed at the Vasaros 5 Psychiatric Hospital, now it is Terleckas' turn, and then yours." Terleckas was himself politely threatened by Major Kala-kauskas that Tamonis' fate awaits him. Only the future will show whether the security police dares send A. Terleckas to the psychiatric hospital a second time.
* * *