After the arrest of Father Sigitas Tamkevičius, a whole series of investigations erupted. The subjects of the investigation are priests, faithful, youth and even children. The KGB is particularly interested in the following questions:
a. Do you know Father Sigitas Tamkevičius? How would you describe him?
b. What did he speak about during sermon time?
c. Did the person under investigation deliberately sign statements about discrimination against young people and petitions for the release of Father Alfonsas Svarinskas and Father Sigitas Tamkevičius?
d. Did the priest read the text of the petition from the pulpit about the terrorizing of youngsters in school?
e. Who solicited signatures?
After the interrogation, the KGB agents hastened to prove that Father Tamkevičius and Father Svarinskas had been justly arrested, that they are justly accused of consciously denigrating and smearing the Soviet system; that in the USSR there is complete freedom of conscience and no one is persecuted or terrorized on account of religious beliefs.
The KGB agents pay no attention to specific cases of religious persecution experienced and presented by those under investigation, and they do not incorporate a single one of these instances in their reports, and when the one under interrogation demands it, they reply that it is irrelevant to the case.
Protesting against the unjust arrests of Father Sigitas Tamkevičius and Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, shocked by such consideration of the "facts" and fearing lest records of interrogation later be falsified by adding "testimony" concerning Father Tamkevičius, useful to government agents, believers refuse en masse to sign interrogation reports. This is especially displeasing to the KGB.
Valkininkai. (Varėna Rayon).
On June 8, 1983, Chekist Pilelis spent six hours interrogating the Pastor of Valkininkai Father Algimantas Keina, a member of the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights. The interrogator asked about the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights, its activities, documents and relations with the clergy.
The subject of the interrogation refused to give information about the Committee's activities. In the course of the interrogation, Pilelis said that the Committee should not be active, and by threats and blackmail, he tried to force the priest to resign from the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights.
Father Keina wrote the following statement: "I, A. Keina, since conditions have made impossible my participation in the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights, whose purpose is to mediate between the civil government and the faithful to guarantee rights of believers equal to those of unbelievers in line with the Constitution, resign my membership in this Committee."
Nedingė. (Varėna Rayon)
On June 30, 1983, the Vilnius KGB interrogated Fr. Kazimieras Žilys, a member of the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Velievers' Rights. Carrying out the interrogation was KGB Major Rainys. Father Žilys was asked, "How long have you been a member of the Committee? Who suggested that you join the Committee? What is the Committee up to at the present time? Wasn't Father Sigitas Tamkevičius the founder of the Committee? Does the Committee hold meetings? Who could be the leader of the Committee now? Have you read the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, etc.?"
Father Žilys stated that all members of the Committee enjoy the same rights. To questions regarding specific activities of the Committee, the subject of the interrogation refused to respond. During the interrogation, Father Žilys assured them that he had seen nothing anti-Soviet in the activities of Father Alfonsas Svarinskas or father Sigitas Tamkevičius.
As an example of libel, Investigator Rainys indicated in the petition of the Catholic Committee for the Devense of Believers' Rights, on behalf of Father Alfonsas Svarinskas' release, a sentence which states that the most zealous priests in Lithuania are being arrested.
"I consider Alfonsas Svarinskas the most zealous priest in Lithuania," replied Father Žilys. "Sometimes for the sake of peace and quiet, I myself keep silent about instances of persecution of the faithful; that is, I do not always and everywhere carry out my duties. But Father Svarinskas does not remain silent... Is the revelation of the truth an anti-Soviet activity?" asked Father Žilys.
The KGB demanded that Father Žilys resign from the Committee. He stated that he would agree to resign from the Committee on the condition that the government let him out to work in the missions:
"If you want another republic to accept you for the missions, you have to write a statement now," said Investigator Rainys.
Father Žilys wrote a statement repeating that he would resign from the Committee on the condition that his request to go to the missions be satisfied.
In later interrogations, members of the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights were shown Father Žilys' resignation, but not his condition for resignation.
Josvainiai (Kėdainiai Rayon)
June 28-29, 1983, at KGB headquarters, Father Leonas Kalinauskas, Pastor of the parish of Josvainiai, and member of the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights was interrogated. During the interrogation Father Kalinauskas refused to answer many leading questions, such as, "What can you tell us about the libelous documents of the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights?"
The subject under interrogation characterized Father Sigitas Tamkevičius as a zealous and devout priest. Father Kalinauskas refused to sign the interrogation report. The interrogation lasted about five hours.
On June 29, Investigator Rainys tried to convince Father Kalinauskas to renounce the activities of the Committee and to resign from it in writing, since otherwise, he was in danger of being arrested like Father Alfonsas Svarinskas and Father Sigitas Tamkevičius. Two other chekists joined in the effort to re-educate Father Kalinauskas. They tried to explain Par. 17 of the Criminal Code, saying that if one renounces the criminal activities, there is no penalty, etc.
When they had gained nothing after two hours, the chekists promised to come to Josvainiai August 12; Father Kalinauskas had until then to decide.
Currently, other members of the Catholic Committee for the defense of Believers' Rights are constantly being interrogated and variously blackmailed to resign from the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights as soon as possible.
Kirdeikiai. (Utena Rayon).
On July 11, 1983, Father Zenonas Navickas, Pastor of the parish of Kirdeikiai, was interrogated at Vilnius KGB Headquarters. The investigator tried to show that Father Navickas does not know how to be a pastor. He accused the priest of libeling the government in his sermons, scolding him for defending Father Alfonsas Svarinskas and Father Sigitas Tamkevičius and distributing their photographs. Ending the interrogation, the chekist read Father Navickas a written warning, in which it states that if he continued to act in this way, he would be taken to criminal court.
Father Navickas did not sign the warning.
Krikštonys. (Lazdijai Rayon)
On June 29, 1983, Vladas Tamkevičius was summoned from work to the Lazdijai Militia Department. Here, a KGB agent subpoened him to Vilnius to be a witness in the trial of his brother, Father Sigitas Tamkevičius, who had been arrested. On the same occasion, a summons was written for another brother, Albinas Tamkevičius, a resident of Seirijai, to report for interrogation.
On June 30, 1983, at Vilnius KGB Headquarters, Vladas and Albinas Tamkevičius were interrogated by Investigator V. Baumila. The investigator was interested in knowing what had moved their brother Sigitas to become a priest, where he used to obtain books, whether he visited often, whether he was nervous, what he spoke about at the wedding of his niece Birutė, etc. The interrogation lasted about three hours.
At the beginning of July, 1983, at Kaunas KGB Headquarters, Stasys Tamkevičius was interrogated. The interrogator asked what had prompted his brother to choose the life of a priest, where he used to obtain books, who had supported him when he was studying at the seminary in Kaunas, etc.
During the interrogation, they tried to explain to the brother that Father Sigitas Tamkevičius was libeling the state. Stasys Tamkevičius denied it, saying that since childhood, all of them had been taught responsibility. His brother had not libeled anyone, but only tried to carry out his priestly duties conscientiously.
On July 5, Vilkaviškis resident, 10th Class student, Arvydas Juška, was summoned to the Vilkaviškis KGB office to see Investigator V. Baumila. The boy has experienced much painful injustice on account of his religious convictions, so he refused to cooperate with the interrogation. Hardly answering any of the questions, he categorically refused to sign the record of interrogation. Such stubborness on the part of the young man annoyed the KGB, and they would not let him out for lunch, saying, "You'll sit here till you sign."
On July 6, Vilkaviškis KGB Agent V. Kanonenko, and Vilnius KGB staffer V. Baumila took (Miss) Audronė Juraitė, a 10th Class student at the K. Donelaitis School in Kybartai, from her home to the militia station in Kybartai for interrogation. The girl was accompanied by her brother, Evaldas Juras.
Audronė was asked about the Pastor of Kybartai, Father Sigitas Tamkevičius. They tried to convince her that in his sermons the pastor had libeled teachers, saying that they discriminate against students who are religious believers.
Audronė gave them a whole list of specific instances of discrimination on account of religious belief, but not one of them was entered in the record.
Even Investigator Baumila himself, angered because Audronė refused to sign the interrogation report, threatened that with such ideas, she would not get into any institution of higher learning.
The girl replied that in school they had practically convinced her that in reality, all roads to higher study are closed to religiously believing youth, and so she was not disturbed and not planning to apply anywhere, even though she was a good student. "I'll go to work for the Church," said Audronė.
Seeing that he had not intimidated her, Baumila said, "If you don't sign now, we'll take you to Vilnius for fifteen years, so you'll learn to sign."
Even this threat did not help. They had to be satisfied with an interrogation report without her signature.
On July 14, an investigator from the Vilnius KGB, who would not give his name, and Vilkaviškis KGB Agent V. Kanonenko, came to the home of 9th Class student Aušra Karaliūtė of the K. Donelaitis Middle School in Kybartai.
At the time, the girl was home alone, but she did not lose her head. First, she stated that she would speak only with the investigator, and asked Kanonenko to leave the room. Then, she stated categorically, "I'm not going to answer questions dealing with the case of Father Sigitas Tamkevičius, the pastor. The investigator warned that she could be taken to court for that. "Aušra replied "So, take me to court!" Then the investigator nobly "took pity on her".
On account of Aušra's firm stand, the interrogation did not take place, and no report was written. Having gained nothing, the investigator left, saying, "All of you are against the Soviet government, even your dogs are set against us." (At that point, two little dogs belonging to Aušra, sensing strangers, were barking angrily.)
On July 6, KGB personnel interrogated Kybartai resident (Mrs.) Ferencienė at her home. Asked how she would describe Father Sigitas Tamkevičius, the woman, with tears in her eyes, said, "If it were not for our pastor, Father Tamkevičius, perhaps by now my children would have become bums, and would be sitting in jail. Only thanks to him, they have grown up good and conscientious, and if it were possible, I would gladly agree to have you arrest me today, or stand me against the wall to be shot, if only you would let Father Tamkevičius go. After all, if I died, only two children would be left orphans, but now, the whole parish, and even all of Lithuania, has lost a good Father. We have all become orphans. Who is defending us now?"
(Mrs.) Ferencienė told of a whole series of examples of discrimination on account of religious belief and of offenses by Party workers which she knew about, but this time also, the KGB staffer entered into the record only the testimony they were interested in, ignoring everything else.
(Mrs.) Ferencienė did not sign the interrogation report.
On June 16, 11th Class Student Vida Merkevičiūtė was summoned to K. Donelaitis Middle School, Kybartai, for interrogation. She did not go.
On June 17, she was tricked into coming to school, where they served her with an official summons, according to which, on the 20th of that month, she had to report to the Vilnius KGB for interrogation by Investigator V. Baumila. To insure her going, the principal appointed a teacher who was supposed to accompany Vida to KGB headquarters, but the girl refused the escort, and went alone.
During the interrogation, she spoke little. She would not sign the interrogation record.
Virbalis (Vilkaviškis Rayon)
On June 16, Vilnius KGB staffer Vidas Baumila took Virbalis Middle School 10th Class student Jonas Depšys and 9th Class student at the same school, Lina Žebertavičiūtė, from home to the Virbalis Middle School and interrogated them. He asked them whether they knew Father Sigitas Tamkevičius, whether they had signed petitions about the persecutions of young people, about the release of Fathers Svarinskas and Tamkevičius, and where they had apprised themselves of the texts of the petitions.
The students did not deny their signatures.
On June 26, Vilkaviškis KGB staffer Masalskis, and Vilnius KGB Agent Baumila, came to the students' work and rest camp which was in the Vilkaviškis Rayon. Using trickery, they summoned Vilkaviškis V. Vitkauskas Middle School 8th Class student Jūratė Alkevičiūtė who was working there. The girl was told that she had to speak with her parents by phone. Seeing the KGB agents, Jūratė became annoyed at the set-up, and refused to talk. She later demanded that they summon her parents, since she was a minor, and without her parents' knowledge, she would not talk.
Investigator Baumila then summoned a teacher who was at the camp. To the question whether it was really her signature under the petition regarding the persecution of youth, Jūratė answered, "What doubt can you have whether it is or is not my signature? You see that I wrote my full name, surname, and besides, appended my signature."
The KGB agents were amazed at the girl's boldness, called her a "hard nut to crack", and became very angry when, at the end of the interrogation, she refused to sign the record.
On May 6, at about 11:00 AM, Vilnius resident (Miss) Joana Bukaveckaitė, pastry chef at the Dainava Restaurant, who had come for the trial of Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, was falsely accused of speculation by a KGB agent and by militia, and was detained. Having established the prisoner's identity, the chekists took Buke-vickaitė to a bus standing nearby for interrogation. The KGB agents were interested in knowing whether Bukaveckaitė was a nun, whether she was deeply entangled in the activities of Father Alfonsas Svarinskas (in his politics, to use their terminology), whether she knew how to type, read the Chronicle, the Dawn (Aušra) and other underground publications. They asked whether she often visits Šiluva and Kybartai, whether she knew (Miss) Birutė Briliūtė and Zita and Ona Šarakauskaitė.
During the interrogation, (Miss) Bukaveckaitė was threatened with a jail term, and sarcastically called the defender of Father Alfonsas Svarinskas. To questions regarding her belief, family or friends, Bukaveckaitė did not reply. For this, they threatened again to give her a jail term. "You silence we consider a confirmation of the truth," (A confirmation of accusations by the KGB — Ed. Note), said the chekist.
At the end of the interrogation, the KGB agent threatened Bukaveckaitė that if he met her in Šiluva, Kybartai or Viduklė again, she would, in his words, buy her way out only with her parents' hides, later adding that physically, he would not touch the parents. After the two hour interrogation-education, Bukavickaitė was released.
On May 29, 1983, the faithful were gathering signatures outside the Archcathedral — Basilica of Kaunas for the release of the priests Alfonsas Svarinskas and Sigitas Tamkevičius. (Miss) Giedrė Strio-kaitė, of Kaunas, who was collecting signatures, was approached by three men in civilian dress. One of them tried by force to tear from Giedrė's hands the text of the petition which about forty people had already signed. Two others, without introducing themselves or showing identification, seized her by the hands and, dragged her to the Požėla Rayon Militia Station. Here, one of the KGB agents searched Striokaitė's handbag and took down her name, address and place of employment. When the address did not check (their computer showed Giedrė's former address), the chekists demanded her pass. The woman under interrogation did not have her pass with her. The KGB agents were preparing to take her key, go to her apartment and find the documents they required. When she categorically refused to agree to such interference on the part of the KGB, Striokaitė was driven home in a militia car.
Leaving, they told the girl to be sure to report to Room 21 of the Požėla Rayon Department of Internal Affairs the next day at 10:00 AM. They did not leave any summons in writing for her to report for interrogation.
The following day, (Miss) Striokaitė did not go to the militia department, but went to work. (She works as a medic at the Kaunas City First Aid Station.) At about 2:00 PM, an angry militiaman showed up at her place of employment. Giedrė was summoned to a patient. The militiaman sternly demanded that she report by 5:00 PM to the Požėla Rayon Militia Station. There she was met by a middle aged man in civilian dress. When she asked his name, the KGB agent, without showing any document, retorted, "Juozas Petraitis". The chekist, known as J. Petraitis, told (Miss) Striokaitė that she had been summoned to the militia department for disturbing the peace. He accused her of inciting a riot on the street, pulling people by the coattails to sign, and cursing those who would not.
All this was a crudely fabricated lie, which the chekist repeated from time to time during the entire interrogation.
During the interrogation, the subject was asked whether she did not have relatives abroad, whether she had not been tried, what kind of work her parents do, and so forth. When (Miss) Striokaitė requested that he get to the point because she had patients waiting, he began to ask who had told her to collect signatures, where she had obtained the text of the petition and began again to analyze each sentence of the text, asking from where she knew the priests in jail, how she knew the most zealous priests in Lithuania, and so forth.
Striokaitė explained that evil men are not followed by crowds of people, and besides everyone knows well how the parishes looked before these priests came to minister, and how they look today.
The chekist tried to convince Striokaitė that people are annoyed by the collection of signatures. Finally, he said that in general, for the collecting of signatures, a special permit is needed. The KGB agent demanded that Striokaitė write an explanation in the name of the militia chief, showing why she had disturbed the peace, who asked her to collect signatures, whether she fully agrees with the text of the petition, and what she intends to do if a similar incident occurs.
In the explanation, (Miss) Striokaitė indicated that three men had accosted her while she was gathering signatures to a petition outside the Archcathedral-Basilica, and without any explanation, dragged her to the militia station, and that she considers the accusation of disturbing the peace to be unjust, she agrees with the text of the petition and will defend priests further, if need be.
At the end of the interrogation, the chekist acted very generous, as though he wished to help, and dared to speak even of freedom of religion. When Striokaitė explained that she had no time for such talk, because she had patients waiting for her, the KGB agent, promising to meet her again, let the prisoner go. The interrogation lasted about two hours. On June 20, at the quarters of the First Aid Station of the City of Kaunas, where the behavior of (Miss) Striokaitė was to be considered, the following people gathered: Senior Physician (Mrs.) Jarašienė, Assistant (Mrs.) Sasnauskienė, Chief Medical Aide (Mrs.) Girdaukienė, Doctors (Mrs.) Romanskienė, (Mrs.) Jurevičienė and Moskaliova. The Senior Physician warned (Miss) Striokaitė that by her behavior she had caused unpleasantness at work, and tried to convince her that she should not interfere in such things. (Miss) Striokaitė said that she did not promise to
"mend her ways" since she had already thought everything over earlier.
Adakavas (Tauragė Rayon)
On May 27, 1983, Father Valentinas Šikšnys, the Pastor of the parish in Adakavas, was summoned to see the Rayon Attorney General Remeika (in the office was also the Taurage Rayon KGB Chief). Prosecutor Remeika gave Father Šikšnys a written warning with which to familiarize himself, a warning about religious training of underage children. Šikšnys was threatened with Par. 143 of the Criminal Code.