On May 29, 1982, Vytautas Vaičiūnas imprisoned in the Cheliabinsk region, City of Bakal, had a visit from his brother and wife, and on August 11, during visiting hours he was able to converse with his wife through a glass partition for one and a half hours.
Vytautas Vaičiūnas' health has deteriorated badly. Not long ago, he was in the hospital from which he was discharged before he had fully recovered; an epidemic was raging in the camp and there were not enough beds in the hospital. His skin is ulcerated, he has a large abcess on his foot, he is subject to intense itching, and if he walks around for a while, his feet swell. At the present time, Vytautas Vaičiūnas weighs 73 kg (160 lbs.) (Before his imprisonment, he weighed 115 kg—253 lbs.)
After completing one third of his sentence, Vaičiūnas asked to go out on a road gang. (This privilege is allowed all criminals in general regime camps.) The prison administration refused to allow him out, affirming that his health was too weak.
"Then give me supplementary rations," Vaičiūnas requested. "You're not entitled," was the reply.
The criminal camps, after half the sentence has been served, prisoners' cases are reviewed, and if a prisoner has not broken the rules, he is retried by the camp court and allowed to go free. Vaičiūnas' case was never reviewed.
Letters written to Vytautas Vaičiūnas almost never reach him: of twelve letters from his wife, he received only two. The camp administration says that it has given him all the letters addressed to him.
(Mrs.) Vaičiūnienė has written in complaint to the Attorney General of the USSR, saying that her husband does not receive Lithuanian literature which has been ordered for him; the matter was handed over to the City Solicitors's office of Satka for investigation. After the complaint, the Satka City's solicitor's office forbade Vaičiūnas to receive even Komjaunimo Tiesa (Truth of the Communist Youth), the only newspaper which he still used to receive occasionally.
The camp administration claims that they do not receive any Lithuanian printed matter. That means that neither letters nor Lithuanian printed matter reach Vaičiūnas because of somebody's special order.
Once a month, they are allowed to buy 7 rubles worth of food at the camp store. (Only, of course, if the prisoner has not offended the administration.) However, apart from the most ordinary kinds of candy, bread and rancid margerine, which often makes the prisoners sick, there is nothing in the store.
Less and less frequently are messages from Lithuanian prisoners reaching the Land of the Nemunas: About half of their letters disappear without a trace even though sent by registered mail, return receipt requested. However the journey of letters sent from Lithuania across Russia's expanse is even more difficult: more than half of them disappear, some of them from Vilnius travel half a year to the prisoners' cells in the Perm District. Delivery receipts for some letters are received by people in Vilnius but the prisoners never see the letters.
Antanas Terleckas, in his letter of August 15, 1982, writes: " . .Camp life is much more difficult than it was twenty or thirty years ago."
Viktoras Petkus, in his 1982 letters, writes:
"... Oh . . . how naive we both were when we thought that after the Helsinki Accords new winds would blow across Europe! . . ."
"On February 7,1 wrote you a letter, but the day before yesterday they returned the envelope with the return receipt. The letter has been confiscated for allegedly ideologically damaging content." March 21, 1982.
"... For some reason or other, written communications between the two of us have completely broken off: the one and only letter I received from you this year was January 15. (Of ten letters, only one has reached Viktoras Petkus. Ed. Note) On Ascension Thursday, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday and July 1, I sent out, by airmail, registered letters with return receipt requested, but I never did receive notices of delivery. Therefore, I am going to write only a few words.
"I have returned from the hospital. The sutures have not yet been removed. (They operated on a nasal growth. — Ed. Note) Hence, I do not know how the incision will look. The left side of my head is still throbbing". July 12, 1982.
"Vytautas Skuodis writes:
"... My routine is the same. From Saturday to Wednesday, inclusive, from early morning until late at night, working in the laundry and the bath, time passes very quickly. Sundays are spent outside drying what I laudered on Saturday evening and night. The remaining time, from Wednesday afternoon until Friday evening, also streaks by like lightening, while I read periodicals which have piled up considerably. . . . Work in the laundry requires approximately fifty-six hours a week. After such work, on Wednesdays, you feel like a worn-out overshoe."
(Vytautas Skuodis has announced that on June 15 every year, he intends to fast completely in protest against the occupation of Lithuania. This year, on the evening of June 15, at about 9 o'clock, he had a minor heart attack. — Ed. Note) "Only after I had lain on the cement barrier in the bathroom for half an hour, with my head resting on an overturned bucket, did the sickness pass. This year I managed to do without a drop of water. Apparently, that day I was very badly exhausted." July 9, 1982.
Vytautas Vaičiūnas writes in his letters:
" . . .It is the second year that I am wearing a prisoner's shackles, but no one can prevent the flight of a free spirit, so let us rejoice in the Lord and let us live in the hope of reunion, which shines for us who believe; even the shadows of death cannot obscure it. God has allowed me to walk the way of sacrifice, and therefore, I thank you for your support, cooperation, sacrifices and prayers.
"Please convey my sincere greetings to all my dear ones in Lithuania. Tell them that only half of the material side of me is left (his former weight — Ed. Note), but the spirit rises more freely to the blue heavens. I am prepared to suffer everything, to bear everything, and to keep the Faith. I thank you for your support, and live in the peace of the Lord." July, 1982.
From the letters of Julius Sasnauskas:
"... Vacation is ended. If it were not for mother, it would have been very unhappy . . . (According to Soviet law, those in exile who have not broken the rules have the right after a year in exile to return for a few days of vacation to the homeland. Without reason, Julius Sasnauskas was denied permission to leave his exile in Parabel to visit his homeland, and moreover they did not even allow him to go to the Tomsk Rayon Hospital tor major surgery on his knee. — Ed. Note) As the evening darkness closes in, we must live by the hope of dawn . . . Providence will surely allow us to achieve at least part of that hope.
". . . On Monday, I plan to enter the hospital. (In Parabel — Ed. Note) It's probably good to wind up in the hospital from time to time in order to see how fragile our existence is and how many greater minfortunes there are around you . . . The will of God be done everywhere. My thoughts are of you all; your holy prayer sustains and will continue to sustain me.
"... I thank God for all human hearts which radiate the spirit of love among us. May all receive their reward at the hands of the Good Shepherd." July, 1982.
Anastazas Janulis writes:
"... Often, even though we do not want to, we succumb to that ugly custom, and in our hands which just held the rosary, we pick up a drink! This holy evening of All Saints I would wish, on my knees, to call out to my compatriots, to my nation: 'Where are you headed, my nation?' I would be willing to die here in prison if only there would be no drink in my brothers' hands." November 7, 1981.
"... What can I tell you about my dull daily routine? That it is difficult to live far from my homeland? Oh yes! That it is not easy to get along without the sacraments, the altar, and yes, the organ? Of course! That it is unpleasant to feel constantly surrounded — as with a crown of thorns — by five different kinds of fences? Of course!
"But a human being is not a beast, he knows that manacled feet are better than a trammeled soul. Not for nothing does St. Paul say that love makes a person free. Therefore, looking at the past, the present and the future I can say without lying:
Rejoice, my soul, having fulfilled your Lent, your duty,
Whose life is Lent, his death is Easter!
Shout Hosannah! for bodily suffering, Alleluja for death
Kiss the shackles of bondage, they are the winning tricks of Providence
" . . .I have become an invalid of the second group, let no one think to ask favors for me! I must drain my chalice to the dregs." March 28, 1982.