On October 5, 1983, His Excellency, the exiled bishop Julijonas Steponavičius, was summoned to the offices of the KGB as a witness in the trial of Father Sigitas Tamkevičius. Under interrogation, Bishop Steponavičius refused to be a witness in the trial of Father Sigitas Tamkevičius and stated that as a bishop, he can only be proud of such a priest, and in no way degrade him.
In response to questions whether he had seen the Chronicle, whether he had contributed to the drafting of documents of the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights, the bishop refused to answer. The interrogation took about three hours. Bishop Steponavičius refused to sign the interrogation report.
The chekists, letting Bishop Steponavičius out for lunch break, retained his passport and ordered him to report at 3:00 PM to the KGB. After lunch, the interrogator and one other chekist faulted and lectured Bishop Steponavičius for receiving priests, believers and other visitors, and scolded him for supporting the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights and the underground publication, the Chronicle. He asked why the bishop did not want to live in peace, why he worried about matters which did not concern him, etc. This talk lasted 1.5 hours.
On August 8, 1983, Father Vincas Jalinskas, Pastor of the parish of Lazdijai, was summoned to Investigator Marcinkevičius. In the course of interrogation, the following questions were posed: "How would you characterize Father Sigitas Tamkevičius who has been arrested?" "Have you heard any of his sermons?" "Was the Soviet system libelled in any of them?" "Were you present in the church at Kybartai during the Christmas party prepared for the children?" "Who was Santa Claus?"
Investigator Marcinkevičius accused Sigitas Tamkevičius of passing information abroad; he was interested in the Chronicle, and asked who publishes it, wasn't it Father Tamkevičius, as the investigator thought, Father Jalinskas explained that the Chronicle is written, published and duplicated by the people. Rejecting the interrogator's accusation that a Eucharistic meeting had been held in the church of Kybartai, Father Jalinskas emphasized that this happened during the Eucharistic Year, and Father Tamkevičius did what the Church and the bishops required. If the aforesaid "crime" has become a crime, then be careful because this year has been proclaimed the "Holy Year". Therefore, in more than one church, on this occasion similar "crimes" could be perpetrated, according Father Jalinskas.
During the interrogation, Father Jalinskas demanded that Father Sigitas Tamkevičius be released as one who has committed no crime, and to Investigator Marcinkevičius' question, concerning the reaction if Father Tamkevičius were released, he answered that this would be one of the best possibilités, since priests and faithful are scandalized by such action on the part of the government.
"You dishonestly accused Father Svarinskas of certain activities during the post-War years; it will be interesting to see what you accuse Father Tamkevičius of; after all, he was born into a family of workers, and after the war he grew up as an orphan and finished your Soviet school. He is a priest conscientiously doing his duty," Father Jalinskas said more than once during his interrogation.
Bartininkai (Rayon of Vilkaviškis)
On September 30, 1983, Father Antanas Liubšys, Pastor of the parish in Bartininkai, was summoned to the Vilnius KGB to speak with Investigator Vidmantas Baumila. The KGB agent questioned him as a witness in the case of Father Sigitas Tamkevičius. In response to the question of how he would evaluate Father Tamkevičius as a human being and as a priest, Father Liubšys replied that Father Tamkevičius is a man of high moral standards, and profound spirit; we need more such priests. In answer to the question whether people love and respect Father Tamkevičius, the subject under interrogation confirmed that all the faithful and clergy who know him love and respect him very much.
Father Liubšys refused to sign the interrogation record. At that point, the interrogator became angry and asked, "Why do you refuse to sign? After all, your statements about Father Tamkevičius are all positive and could benefit him during the trial."
'Nothing can serve his interest since you are trying an innocent man, and are not seeking the truth. Neither my favorable statements nor those of witnesses will mean anything," said Father Liubšys.
After the interrogation, a KGB agent presented himself without giving his name, and said that he wished to talk with Father Liubšys. The chekist said that in April, 1980, he had participated in a raid on Kapsuko m. 20-mečio g., nr. 3, and he knew Miss Lina Briliūtė, who is presently working as a laundress for the church in Bartininkai, and her sister, Birutė Briliūtė, who works as choir director for the church in Kybartai.
He regreted that such young women enter the convent; he inquired whether Lina was not involved in some sort of suspicious activities, i.e., whether she was not duplicating and disseminating underground literature. When Father Liubšys denied all this, Interrogator Baumila warned him to be careful in the future, because he was convinced that Lina's sister, Birutė Briliūtė, was opposed to the Soviet government, and could have a negative influence on her sister.
The interrogation took about three hours. Prienai.
On September 8, 1983, the Associate Pastor of the parish in Prienai, Father Antanas Gražulis, was summoned to the Prienai Rayon Prosecutor's Office. Waiting for him at the prosecutor's office with a warning was Lithuanian SSR Prosecutor Bakučionis. In the warning, Father Gražulis was accused of breaking the law regarding cult. Prosecutor Bakučionis tried to prove that when the Christmas party was being prepared, children were included in the holiday program: They recited verse and sang hymns, when as a matter of fact, the Church is separated from the school.
The Prosecutor claimed that the laws governing religious associations forbid parish visitation, but Father Gražulis continues the visitation in disregard of the law. The prosecutor did not react to Father Gražulis' explanation that it is kalėdojimas (formal visitation) only when an offering is accepted, but he visits parishioners and accepts no offerings.
Father Gražulis was accused of collecting signatures to petitions in behalf of the priests Alfonsas Svarinskas and Sigitas Tamkevičius , and of defending them. The prosecutor tried to prove that defending the arrested priests is an offense, since in his words, they, as criminals, have been justly put on trial, and he, Father Gražulis, by defending the prisoners, demeans the authority of the state.
On September 24,1983, the Prienai Rayon newspaper printed a news item in which it states: " . . .On September 8,1983, the Associate Pastor of the church in Prienai, Father A. Gražulis, was warned about systematic violation of the law concerning religious cults and regarding unfounded attacks on Soviet society, and that for repeated actions of this kind, that is, breaking the law, he can be held liable."
After the arrest of the Pastor of Kybartai, Father Sigitas Tamke-vičius, massive interrogations of the inhabitants of Kybartai — children and adults — began. Almost all were questioned on the same topics: "What did Father Tamkevičius talk about in his sermons?" "Were anti-Soviet attitudes sensed in the sermon?" "Did those under interrogation sign the petition regarding discrimination against youth who are religious believers knowingly?" "Who organized the Christmas party for children in front of the church during the Christmas holiday?" "What do you know about a Eucharistic Congress which took place in the church at Kybartai, August, 1981?" "Did you participate?", etc.
According to available information, the following faithful of the parish of Kybartai were questioned in the case of Father Sigitas Tamkevičius:
July 6 — Mrs. Matilda Mališkienė, a worker at the Kybartai Base
of the Vilkaviškis Department of Roads (questioned at
work; Interrogator V. Baumila). July 13 — Mrs. Nastutė Mačiulaitienė, a worker at the Kybartai
Savings Bank (questioned at the Offices of the Executive
Committee; Interrogator Marcinkevičius). July 13 — Kybartai resident Urbonas (questioned at the Militia
Station; Interrogator Marcinkevičius). July 13 — Kybartai town resident Mrs. Želvienė (brought from
home to the Militia Station; the interrogator did not give
July 13 — Mrs. Teresė Storaitienė (the woman was ill, so she was questioned at home; Interrogator V. Baumila).
July 14 — Mrs. Česnienė, a resident of Darvino gatvė.
July 14 — Mrs. Menčinskienė, a resident of Kybartai (at the Militia Station).
July 15 — Miss Birutė Briliūtė, parish organist in Kybartai (questioned at home; Interrogator V. Baumila).
July 20 — Miss Ona Kavaliauskaitė, parish charwoman of Kybartai (questioned at home; Interrogator V. Baumila).
July 20 — Miss Bernadeta Mališkaitė (at the Militia Station; Interrogator V. Baumila).
July 20 — The Misses Asta and Edita Glaveckas and Miss Daiva Sakalauskaitė.
July 21 — Pupil Aušra Karaliūtė (Interrogator Marcinkevičius). July 25 — Sigita, Asta, Reda and Arvydas Počas.
Those interrogated testified that it was their deepest conviction that Father Tamkevičius was beloved and respected by all the faithful, and had done nothing for which he should be punished. On the contrary, he had served the faithful zealously. Thanks to him, the church in Kybartai has been redecorated, the sanctuary has been refurbished and there are many young people assisting at the altar.
The people affirmed that in his sermons, the pastor tried only to do good: He taught them to live and work conscientiously, and not to be hypocritical. During interrogation, more than one believer gave a whole list of examples of discrimination experienced on account of religious beliefs, but not one of them was recorded in the interrogation report.
Almost all of those interrogated refused to sign the report.
The interrogators tried to convince the people that their pastor had been justly arrested; according to them, he was negatively disposed with regard to the Soviet government, and as an example of criminal activity, they would cite the behavior of the faithful during interrogation — in the words of the interrogators — beginning with thirteen-year-olds and ending with the elderly, they refused to sign interrogation reports, and about two hundred of them had been questioned.
They tried to convince them that by not signing the investigation reports, people were just making things worse for the pastor. The KGB agents compared the faithful of Lithuania with the faithful in Poland; they explained that there, too, things had begun with the rosary, and that it was necessary to "nip it in the bud". To the statements of some of those interrogated that they would sign only when it would be necessary to testify in court, the interrogators shot back that such witnesses as they would not be necessary in court.
On July 20, KGB agents from Vilnius and Vilkaviškis arrived at Ostrovskio g. Nr. 9, with the intention of interrogating young religious believers, Eleventh Class pupil Romas and Tenth Class pupils Arvydas and Edmundas Žemaitis. The KGB agents were met at the door by the boys' mother, Mrs. Birutė Žemaitienė.
Discovering what the chekists wanted, she said, "My children have done nothing wrong, and there is no need to question them; go after real criminals! I raised them, and I'm responsible for them. Why didn't you have any use for the children when they were small, when we had problems? Why were they of no concern to any goverment officials then? Surely it isn't just because they believe in God that they have become criminals and must be interrogated? I don't agree to allow you to question my children!", and she requested the KGB agents to leave.
That evening, a militia officer repeatedly delivered summonses to the interrogation, but the mother would not allow her children to be questioned this time, either. Some time later, a militiaman served a summons on Birutė Žemaitienė, according to which at 10:00 AM, July 25, she had to go to the Vilkaviškis Office of Internal Affairs, to see Militia Interrogator Antanas Bilbokas.
At the militia station, they called Mrs. Žemaitienė intransigent and anti-Soviet in orientation. They threatened her with a sentence, and after telling her that they would still question the children, they hauled her off to the Vilkaviškis People's Court, where they fined her 35 rubles, adding that the decision of the court was final and not subject to appeal.
Mrs. Žemaitienė was told by the judges that she might not only pay a fine for the activities of her children, but she might also go to jail. After this incident, the KGB agents tried several more times to find the sons of Birutė Žemaitienė, but the latter, taking advantage of summer vacation time, left home.
On September 6, Vilnius KGB agent V. Baumila came to the K. Donelaitis Middle School in Kybartai, and in the principal's office, interrogated Eleventh Class pupil Romas Žemaitis. The usual questions followed concerning the arrested pastor, Father Sigitas Tamkevičius. The young man did not sign the interrogation report.
The same day, KGB agent Baumila called Romas Žemaitis' brother, Tenth Class pupil Arvydas, but he was unable to interrogate him completely, since the boy's mother arrived at the principal's office. Mrs. Žemaitienė was very annoyed at such action on the part of the KGB agents., since only last summer, leaving Kybartai, they had promised that they would not summon children for interrogation without their parents' knowledge. Baumila demanded that the mother leave, but she said that she would leave only with her children.
On July 25, 1983, a militia clerk telephoned the capital city of Kybartai Commercial Furnishings Factory, and asking for Mrs. Ona Griškaitienė, demanded that her daughter Stasė Griškaitytė report at 3:00 PM on July 26, to the Militia Offices in Kybartai for interrogation.
The mother said that she would not allow her daughter to go alone, since she is a minor. A half hour later, Mrs. Griškaitienė was visited in the factory by militia officer Gintas Kareišis, who served a summons issued in the name of Stasė Griškaitytė, and demanded that the mother sign a receipt. When the woman refused, the officer, angered, called Mrs. Griškaitienė a hooligan, and threatened her with jail. That same evening, Mrs. Griškaitienė was served a summons to report at 1:00 PM July 26, at the City of Vilkaviškis Internal Affairs Section for interrogation.
At 9 o'clock the next morning, militia officer Kereišis came to the factory, and offered to drive Mrs. Griškaitienė to the Vilkaviškis Internal Affairs Section himself. The woman said that according to the summons, she was not supposed to be there until 1:00 PM. The officer had to rewrite the summons to read 10:00 AM.
Juozas Mickevičius, acting supervisor of the tool-room at the time, objected to the unjust imposition on the woman, "You don't have the right to take her away and punish her; she hasn't done or said anything wrong that we could hear."
The officer shot back that he didn't see any need to discuss the matter, and suggested that if there was any problem, he should come along to the internal affairs section. Juozas Mickevičius did so, but at the militia station, no one listened seriously to either Ona Griškaitienė or Juozas Mickevičius. To any attempts to seek justice, they reacted with angry sarcasm and threats. They finally said that, in any case, "All of Kybartai ought to be destroyed, so that there would be no trace of it left."
A half-hour later, Mrs. Griškaitienė ended up in the Vilkaviškis City Peoples' Court, where she was fined 40 rubles for minor hooliganism. The woman who, without giving her own name or title, fined Mrs. Griškaitienė, adding that the decision of the court was final, and not subject to appeal.
On August 24, 1983, the mother of the late Father Virgilijus Jaugelis, Monika Jaugelienė, was summoned to the Kaunas City KGB for interrogation. She was questioned by Vilnius KGB interrogator Vidmantas Baumila. He asked whether she knew Father
Sigitas Tamkevičius, when they became more closely acquainted, whether she had heard any of his sermons, and what the priest talked about most in his sermons.
The interrogator was interested in the deceased son, Father Virgilijus Jaugelis. He asked why he was buried in Kybartai, and under the church belfry, at that, and inquired whether it was not Father Sigitas Tamkevičius who had thought it all up.
On September 5, in the offices of the Kaunas KGB, a security agent questioned Monika Jaugelienė. This time, he wished to know where her son lived when he was in Kybartai; where he worded; why, when he felt ill, he had not sought treatment in the hospitals of Kybartai or Vilkaviškis; where he had sought treatment; who had treated him; where he lived before his death; whether her invalid son was visited by the Pastor of Kybartai, Father Sigitas Tamkevičius; how much time during a visit he used to spend with the patient; what they spoke about and the like.
Garliava (R a y o n of Kaunas).
At 12:00 noon on September 5, 1983, Saulius Kelpšas of Kaunas Rayon, Garliava, Pažangos 11, was summoned to the City of Kaunas KGB Substation to see Interrogator V. Baumila for questioning. The KGB agent was interested in knowing whether the man personally knew Father Sigitas Tamkevičius, whether he had not participated in the Eucharistic Congress which took place in Kybartai, and he presented a document containing Kelpšas' automobile license number. The interrogator claimed that they were taken down in Kybartai.
In response, the young man stated that anyone, anywhere can write down numbers anytime, so this is no proof. Having written a report, Baumila demanded that Kelpšas sign it, but the latter refused, arguing that he does not trust Soviet officials, since they distort facts, records, etc. As an example, he recalled false testimony written in a report of militia officers during the trial of Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, to the effect that he, Saulius Kelpšas, while on Lenino prospektas, disturbed the peace, shouting and singing, and for this he was fined 50 rubles.
The man under interrogation asked Interrogator Baumila, "What do you think? If I really had acted that way, where would they have taken me, to court or to a psychiatric hospital?" The interrogator agreed that in such a case, he would be more likely to end up in the hospital than on trial, "But now," continued the man under interrogation, "that document will be considered true and whenever necessary, it will be used against me."
The KGB agent agreed that, yes, the record would stand, and added that the militia had "outdone" themselves, but that it was impossible to correct them.
On September 6, 1983, Vilkaviškis KGB agent Masalskis served a summons for interrogation on Vilkaviškis resident Mrs. Dana Kelme-lienė, residing at Statybininkų 4-3. On September 7, in the Offices of the Vilkaviškis KGB, she was interrogated by Vilnius KGB Interrogator, Senior Lieutenant V. Baumila. On account of poor health, Mrs. Kelmelienė was accompanied to the interrogation by her husband, Antanas Kelmelis. KGB agents would not allow Antanas Kelmelis to be present during the interrogation, so he had to wait in the next office under the care of the Vilkaviškis KGB. The KGB agents wondered how Kelmelis could have views, and allegedly
Dana Kelmelienė was beaten by the militia in 1979 for attempting to attend the "open" trial of Father Sigitas Tamkevičius in traffic Court. See Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, No. 39
denégrate the Soviet system, when he himself came from a Communist family. "That I was born and raised in a family of true Communists is a fact, so you will not explain anything to me, or tell me anything new," Kelmelis said.
During interrogation, Mrs. Kelmeliené was questioned about instances of discrimination mentioned in the petition of young people who are believers. She was asked whether it was true that in their apartment, the KGB and the militia arrested and took away to the Vilkaviškis Militia Department a group of young people who had gathered to celebrate a birthday, and whether she had knowingly signed the text of a petition. Mrs. Kelmeliené said she had.
Interrogator Baumila asked the woman under interrogation whether she read the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, and whether she knew who made copies of it and sent it abroad. The woman replied that she knew nothing about it. Mrs. Kelmeliené did not sign the interrogation report. The interrogation lasted more or less an hour.
At the present time, Jonas Sadūnas is once again under interrogation. The KGB is threatening that if they find his sister Nijolé Sadūinaité, she will be sentenced to a long term in prison.
On July 22, 1983, two Vilnius KGB agents came to the Vilnius Industrial Polyclinic, where they told Chief of Staff Bag-donas that they had to deliver medical staff member Marija Sadūnie-né to the KGB headquarters immediately for interrogation. The chekists were very surprised when, Mrs. Sadūniené, having been summoned, demanded that they show her in writing the document on the basis of which she was supposed to be taken to the Internal Security Committee for interrogation. When Mrs. Sadūniené asked the security agent with whom she was supposed to go to show her his personal credentials, he wanted to remain anonymous: He showed her his ID from a distance, and replied that he had no document for the interrogation. Regardless of the fact that not a single occulist was left at the polyclinic, Marija Sadūniené was taken to the KGB.
Besides the two chekists mentioned, another one came to the interrogation. When Mrs. Sadūniené demanded to meet the one in charge of the interrogation, the new arrival sarcastically stated, "The day has passed when we used to tell everyone being questioned who was interrogating him, or what, etc." It was explained to the woman under interrogation that according to their information, on July 3 or 4, she was supposed to receive a few copies of forbidden underground literature. The chekists were interested in knowing where the aforesaid underground literature was then, to whom she had given it to read, etc.
Mrs. Sadūniené replied that nothing of the sort had taken place, that she had not received any underground publications, and she wondered why, having waited patiently for almost an entire month, they had to bring her so hastily — from work, actually — for interrogation.
"If we have to, we'll bring you in from work any time for interrogation", the chekist told her. "We know well that you have won the trust of Nijolé Sadūnaité's friends. Take care that you don't meet with Jonas Sadūnas' fate!"
Later they repeated several times, "So you still work at the Polyclinic? In whose name did you get your cooperative apartment? You are no longer young, think about the future! What do you need all that underground trash for? If you don't tell us where you put the underground literature, we'll search your apartment, and find it!"
At that point, the chekist who had brought Marija Sadūniené to the KGB said that at that time, there was no forbidden underground literature in the apartment of Marija Sadūniené, but suddenly realizing that he had talked too much, he corrected himself, "At this time, there probably is no underground literature there." (The KGB often carries out searches secretly, in the absence of residents. — Ed. Note)
The chekists did not make a record of the interrogation, and demanded moreover that Marija Sadūnienė sign a statement that she had not received any anti-Soviet literature July 3-4. The interrogation took more or less one hour.
On September 22, 1983, Petras Cizikas, was stopped on the street and served with a search warrant. When he inquired about the reason for the search, Investigator Miss Kubiliauskytė replied, "We're looking for reproductions of Rembrandt and other pictures." During the search at Vinius, Gvazdiky I-ji Nr. 2, the pictures were "sought" in the smallest drawers, in clothing, in the refrigerator and other places where such things could not possibly be.
During the search, the following were taken: Andriukaitis'
Bausmė be nusikaltimo (Punishment without Crime), the text of a talk by Cardinal Slipyj, photographs of Father Alfonsas Svarinskas and Sigitas Tamkevičius, small medals with the image of Christ, little pictures and prayer texts. During the search, an article on the life of Vydūnas disappeared.
After the search, a summons was left to come to militia headquarters for interrogation. Since the summons had no seal on it, Čižikas did not go for the interrogation
After the search, a summons was left to come to militia headquarters for interrogation. Since the summons had no seal on it, Cizikas did not go for the interrogation.
On October 7, a summons without a seal was found in the mailbox, to appear for interrogation October 3!
On July 30, 1983, a search was carried out in the apartment of Miss Stefanija Jašmontaitė at Piliakalnio 9-67, for the purpose of finding and seizing stolen articles: a knife with which crimes were allegedly committed, personal documents and documents relevant to her case. Directing the search was Skaudickas, Assistant Chief of Criminal Investigation for the Internal Affairs Section of the City of Kaunas, Rayon of Pozela.
Witnesses were: Mrs. Romutė Bačkaitienė, daughter of Vaclovas (Piliakalnio 9-64) and Mrs. Nijolė Naikauskienė, daughter of Vladas (Piliakalnio 9-62). Taken during the search were: underground publications Chronicle No. 58 and Aušra No. 28, a Continental typewriter, a notebook with handwritten entries, eighteen tapes containing sermons and songs, and books: A.M. Neigel's, Svarbiausias akimirksnis (The Most Serious Moment) and Vienuolijų vaidmuo dorovinio gyvenimo ugdyme (The Role of Religious Communities in the Development of Moral Life). The search took more or less three hours.