On March 25, 1981, two Chekists came to see [Mrs.] Vaičiūnienė at work. They informed her that her home was being searched and that her husband wished to see her. They took her with them.
Upon returning home, she did not find her husband there. It was later learned that her mother's property, where they kept their car, was also searched.
The security agents ordered Vaičiūnienė to take along some food and took her to police headquarters. When she demanded to see the search report, the security agent explained that this was none of her business, that her husband had it.
"Well send you everything by mail," promised Interrogator Jucys.
When Vaičiūnienė blessed her husband with the sign of the cross during their meeting, she was quickly removed, apparently because the Chekists feared that the wife's calm and courageous gesture would make a great impression on her husband, whom they were attempting to break down in various ways.
Interrogator Jucys advised her to be "a sensible woman and to have pity on her husband." He himself claimed that he felt sorry for Vaičiūnas who was a good specialist and could be useful to society. He offered to intercede on his behalf with the prosecutor and promised that, possibly, if the wife answered the questions "sensibly," her husband would be released soon.
"If you want to save your husband, tell me where the Era (electric mimeograph machine) is located?" Interrogator Jucys played the rescuer.
The interrogator was furious that Vytautas Vaičiūnas had joined the Lithuanian Group to Assist the Implementation of the Helsinki Accords. He explained the humaneness of Soviet laws, and asked which priests and bishops she knew and with whom she was in contact.
On March 26, 1981, Interrogator Jucys informed Vaičiūnienė that he had "forgotten" to give her husband the food she had brought and the clothing and told her to take everything to Vilnius herself.
On March 27 when she arrived in Vilnius, Interrogator Jucys informed her that her husband would be tried for violating public order.
"We can try him under either the criminal or the political article. We can even do it under both. He will get about ten years," he threatened.
The security agents promised they would allow Vaičiūnienė to give her husband food if she provided useful testimony.
On April 23 the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights sent a statement to the secretary of the Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist Party protesting the unwarranted arrest of Vytautas Vaičiūnas and Mečislovas Jurevičius, but no reply to the protest has been forthcoming.
On June 24 the wife of Vaičiūnas, who is an engineer, received a statement from the Vilnius Second Judicial District. Attorney A. Vaičekauskas wrote that he had been appointed to defend Vytautas Vaičiūnas on june 24 and 25 of this year.
It was already late in the day by the time Vaičiūnienė found transportation and reached Vilnius. When she arrived at the Supreme Court, she was unable to learn where the trial was being held. She was sent from one office to another, from the Prosecutor's Office to the Supreme Court and vice versa, until she finally learned that the trial would only be held the following day in Širvintai.
On June 25 the Širvintai People's Court building was teeming with police and security police. Only security police employees and trusted party members were admitted into the courtroom. Friends of the defendant and believers who came to the trial attempted to enter the courtroom but were not admitted, although there were many empty places. When Vaičiūnienė requested that at least three of the friends who accompanied her be admitted, the court secretary began to shout: "How dare you ask the judge to admit your acquaintances! You're a savage! You were raised in the woods!"
As strangers entered the courtroom, a man standing at the door wearing a red armband remarked to his friend, These are party officials." Finally the defendant's wife was also admitted into the court. The defendant glanced at the spectators as he was led in, looking for familiar faces. His wife, sitting near the dock, quietly whispered to him, "Vytelis, no one is here! They were not admitted! Don't look around!" A young woman sitting nearby immediately chimed in: "Why are you lying? Why are you lying? Look at all the people here!"
Although the defendant seemed to have lost much weight, looked exhausted and pale, and was wearing dirty clothes, his face reflected great peace and serenity in contrast to the atmosphere surrounding him — the restless members of the court and the eyes of the spectators full of hatred and resentment.
The "open" Lithuanian SSR Supreme Court session was presided over by Jankauskas. The prosecutor was Murauskas. The defendant refused the services of an attorney.
Vytautas Vaičiūnas was charged with organizing a march from Tytuvėnai to Šiluva.
Some of the witnesses did not appear at the trial. Others often contradicted one another and lied.
Tytuvėnai Township Chairman Henrikas Juzeliūnas stated that processions are held every year, but no one requested a permit. When he ordered them to disperse, no one obeyed. Since it was not a workday, the traffic was not heavy. He saw a man holding a small flag, but he does not know whether it was the defendant because he paid him little attention. He also could not remember how long traffic was stopped.
Stanistovas Turys heard a man speak, saw that he was wearing a brown raincoat, and later noticed that this man stopped traffic to allow the pilgrims to pass.
Česlovas Janušonis was travelling in his car at the time. He stopped to look when he saw the march and began to photograph it because he enjoyed taking pictures. When the defendant asked how the photographs found their way into the criminal file, the witness became flustered, not knowing how to reply. The situation was salvaged by the presiding judge: "You probably thought that such marches were against the law and took the photographs to the police so that internal organs could take appropriate action." Of course, the witness readily confirmed the presiding judge's suggestion. Furthermore, he saw a man stop traffic while the procession passed. Many cars were stopped.
The witness [Miss] Irena Gaubšaite could not distinguish between the church and the churchyard and continually became confused in her testimony. She came to Tytuvėnai by bus, and, seeing the crowd, became curious about what was happening. In the crowd of people she saw a man, who was now on trial, holding a small red flag in one hand and the Constitution in the other. The man holding the red flag stopped traffic and let the crowd pass. Traffic was interrupted for about half an hour.
The witness Juozas Danilovas also recognized the defendant and testified that he had stopped traffic with a red flag and allowed the pilgrims to pass.
Petras Kryžmantas, a scheduled route bus driver, stated that he encountered the crowd of pilgrims as he was driving and this prevented him from continuing. There were a few other vehicles stopped behind him. When the defendant asked how late the bus was at the final stop and whether he was punished for being late, Kryžmantas replied that he was five minutes late and was not punished.
The Judge asked Vaičiūnas where he had obtained the flag. The defendant replied,"When you interrogated [Miss] Stanelytė you accused her of violating traffic regulations because the march did not have a red flag. Therefore, this time some young people brought a flag to use in controlling traffic, and I took it from a girl because I was afraid she would suffer the same consequences as Stanelytė had."
Because he had refused an attorney, the defendant spoke in his own defense (This account of the statement of defense by Vaičiūnas at his trial was provided by a spectator
"The prosecutor charges that I organized and led the march. First of all, to organize such a march requires time, talent, and the necessary means. I did not have any of these. No document or letter proving that I was the organizer was found in my possession during the search, and the charge was made on the basis of these few witnesses, whom you hired. Your witnesses, except for the Tytuvėnai Executive Committee Chairman and one other witness, recognized me easily despite the fact that I am now dressed differently. (His wife, barely recognized her husband at the trial. Even then it was primarily from his clothing and not his face — the defendant had grown a beard and a moustache in prison
"I do not know any of the witnesses. I am seeing them for the very first time. Why didn't you summon and question the persons I know, whom I pointed out in the photographs of the march?
"You charge that I did not request a permit for the procession from the executive committee. Since I did not organize the march, I did not ask for a permit. Furthermore, you charge that I did not disperse the march when ordered. If you accomplished nothing by shouting through a loudspeaker, then without any means at my disposal how could I have attempted to disperse the march, for no one would have listened! Every believer knows without any prompting when and where he must go to pray. I participated in the march and made a speech. I am a believer, and I love Mary. I marched in the past and will march in the future to beseech her to intercede for the Lithuanian nation and its youth, to save the nation from alcohol abuse and immorality.
"We had heard talk that the police and the security police had been summoned in force, that the fire brigades were preparing to douse the pilgrims with water, etc. Therefore, I addressed the people assembled in the churchyard, explaining the purpose of our procession, saying that it was to beseech the Blessed Virgin for her help in making Lithuania sober and chaste. I explained that no one had the right to douse us with water or to disperse us. I urged the believers to pray and sing openly and not fear anything, for according to the Constitution, we have the right to do so. I carried the text of the Constitution to show government officials the article which states this just in case I was detained. In fact, I was seized immediately, and the Constitution was taken from me.
"I protest this charge and consider myself innocent. All of these witnesses are probably atheists, like Gaubšaitė, who does not know the difference between the church and the churchyard. They were hired to help you deal with me because I am a believing Lithuanian, and most importantly, one who fights for the truth.
"Mr. Prosecutor, where is your truth? Where is your conscience? You have lost everything! You propose a three-year sentence because I went with the pilgrims to pray at Šiluva. You stated there are no attentuating or aggravating circumstances. The highest sentence, three years, is being proposed according to the law for a man who has worked thirty years without any reprimands and in responsible positions.
"Mr. Prosecutor, this case will not bring you any honor in the eyes of the world."
The verdict was pronounced on June 26. Vytautas Vaičiūnas was sentenced to two and one-half years of correctional labor to be served in an ordinary regime labor camp.
During the two days of the trial none of the defendant's friends or acquaintances were admitted into the courtroom. Those who came were not even admitted into the corridor. They stood in a small square near the court building throughout the trial where it was impossible to sit down and rest. The assembled priests, young people, and friends ignored the burning sun and the glares of the security police and quietly recited the rosary in unison, joining the defendant in prayer.
Vytautas Vaičiūnas was born on March 9,1930, in the rayon of Šakiai, the township of Žvižgzdaičiai, the village of Tupikai, into a naldless family.
Due to difficult circumstances (his mother died early), he was hired out to farmers at the age of ten. He studied at the Vytėnai School for Boys. When the Soviet government closed the school, Vytautas studied in Šlapaberžys.
Upon completing his military service in the city of Norilsk, Vaičiūnas returned to Lithuania in 1957 and began to work at the Nemunas factory. In 1961 he enrolled in the night school of the Kaunas Polytechnic School, and after graduating, he continued his studies at the Kaunas Polytechnic Institute. In 1977 Vaičiūnas earned a degree in electrical engineering and then worked at the Kaunas Distribution and Coordination Authority.
"To: N. Dybenko, Second Secretary of the Central Committee of the Lithuanian SSR Communist Party
"During June 25-26,1981, the open Supreme Court trial of Mečislovas Jurevičius was held in the city of Kaunas. He was charged under Article 199 Paragraph 3 of the Lithuanian SSR Criminal Code.
"Arriving at the courthouse in the morning, we were stopped by the security agents and the policemen stationed by the door, even though the courtroom was completely empty because the trial had not yet begun. The agent wearing a red armband who stood by the door, the usual 'doorman' who never identifies himself, said: 'Your places, as always, have been reserved in the corridor under the stairs. Not one of you believers will enter as long as I stand here. You will only be admitted when you yourselves are tried.'
"Later, security agents and others with special invitations were admitted according to a list.
"At this same time Vytautas Vaičiūnas, an engineer, was on trial in Širvintai for participating in religious processions. The security police and the police would not allow the people who had arrived into the court building. Only the defendant's wife was allowed into the public trial.
"1. That innocent people are tried for participating in religious marches, that is, for their beliefs. (Up to now government officials have never given permits for such marches.)
"2. That the friends and acquaintances of defendants are not allowed into the public trials but only security agents, their invited guests, policemen, and soldiers.
(signed) R. Grigas, Rev. S. Tamkevičius, V. Bogušis, [Miss] D. Dambrauskaitė, Rev. J. Zdebskis, V. Gluoksnis, [Miss] A. Kiaulevičiūtė, [Miss] N. Sadūnaitė, [Miss] R. Teresiūtė, [Mrs.] L. Vaičiūnienė, [Mrs.] A. Širvinskienė, [Miss] R. Kockaitė, [Miss] V. Maknauskaitė, [Miss] O. Kavaliauskaitė, [Miss] G. Krisiūnaite, S. Balkaitis, [Mrs.] J. Skurulskienė, [Miss]R. Ramašauskaitė, [Miss] B. Briliūtė, [Miss] A. Kerbelytė, [Miss] A. Daugininkaitė, [Miss] J.Kuodytė, S. Kelpša, [Miss] L. Truskauskaitė, Stašaitis, S. Mištautas, [Miss] P. Bacauskaitė, V. Baliūnas, [Miss] A. Raižytė, [Miss] G.
Drasutyte, [Miss] E. Šuliauskaitė, [Miss] J. Judikevičiūtė, [Miss] B. Mališkaitė, [Miss] G. Buzaitė, [Miss] O. Šarkauskaitė, [Miss] B. Vazgelevičiūtė, [Miss] D. Dubauskaitė, [Miss] B. Valaitytė, [Miss] E. Skinkytė, [Mrs.] E. Lapienienė, [Miss] A. Šukytė, [Miss] N. Sukevičiūtė, [Mrs.] Jurevičienė," and two illegible signatures.