Father Alfonsas Svarinskas writes:
"...At about 2 o'clock in the morning on Good Friday, we arrived at the new place. In quarantine two weeks, I think that before Low Sunday I shall see my new companions. The journey took fifteen days, but I was on the road only six days, and spent seven days in Yaroslavl' and two days in the prison at Perm.
"I left springtime behind in the homeland, and here, it's still winter. There is much snow. Yesterday and today, I volunteered to clear snow. The trip back was rather tiring. There is physical filth in the jails and railroad cars, but much worse is the moral filth: the most horrible profanity, 75% of their speech consists of profanity!
"From Yaroslavl', I was alone in the compartment, so I had the opportunity to pray. Discovering that I was a priest, something I never concealed, soldiers and prisoners showed a measure of respect. How strange, many are proud of saying, 'I'm a thief!' or 'I'm a drug addict!'...
"My first impressions of my new location are good. I was given two white sheets, a pillow with a pillow slip, a clean blanket and even a radio. But this is Holy Week, so I'll enjoy the music after Easter.
"I am well. For everything I thank God and all of you who support me with your letters, prayer and good words. May the Risen Christ repay you all with eternal life!"
"... When I start writing you, my feelings are mixed: I am glad that I can visit you at least with a little letter, but it is sad and painful that the letter takes at least two months to reach you! How little our civilization has advanced!
"I have been working in the kitchen for two weeks. I peel potatoes, dust, and even prepare supper. The work isn't hard but it leaves little time for oneself, especially for prayer. I try at least in snatches to spend some time with God. I do what I can and I trust that the Lord will not blame me for it. Always and everywhere, I try to remain obedient to His holy will.
"In the new location, all conditions, physical and spiritual, are better, easier. But the climate here is much worse (we are 800 - 900 meters above sea level), there is less oxygen, so my heart gives me trouble, and my feet feel like they belong to someone else, although I try to walk as much as possible.
"I put in a requisition for a rake and broom for tomorrow. I plan to go out and police the area."
Father Sigitas Tamkevičius writes:
"... For a prisoner, a letter is no less precious than a slice of bread for a hungry man. Besides, every letter reminds me that in Lithuania, there are people vividly mindful of Christ's law of love, 'Visit the prisoner'. (Mat 25,36) This is a sign of the Church's vitality.
"Not long ago, they promulgated the instruction of June 18 regarding amnesty. They cut my remaining time in half, so that next spring, May 27,1 am preparing to leave Mordovia and spend a couple of years in Siberia. I am neither happy nor sad. I want even my being here to serve the good of the Church. The Master knows best where we are most needed.
"In my life, there is nothing interesting or unusual. It can all be summed up in two words: work and prayer. I remember from my childhood seeing on the wall of the pastor's room a large crucifix and the words: 'Ora et labora --pray and work!'
"It appears possible to carry out this program just as well in camp. And more. Father A. Skeltys once gave me the book A Young Man's Religion to read. There I found the letters A.M.D.G., and what they mean and who their author was. 'All for the Greater Glory of God!' — and I can put this into practice.
"What more do I need? In my free time, I walk paths well known to you, count my fingers instead of rosary beads and remember those who walked here before me and those who, in the homeland, labor in the Vineyard of Christ one way or another.
"I read in Tiesa about the meeting of the bishops and deans and the members of the government at the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. From the brief news item, it's difficult to form an impression how much perestroika has effected Church-state relations. It seems to me that in time, the institution of the Council for Religious Affairs will have to be significantly reformed. This would be useful not only for the Church, but also for the state.
"...In my daily prayer, especially in the company of the Lord, I always remember those on whom God has laid heavy and responsible duties... let us remain united in prayer!"
To: L. Šepetys, Secretary of the Central Committee of the
Communist Party of the Lithuanian S.S.R. From: Gintautas Iešmantas
"Not long ago, the news reached me that during searches last year in 1986, my poetic work which had avoided imprisonment at the time of my arrest March 17,1980, fell into the hands of the KGB agents. It comprises my creative work from 1947 to 1979, so it is just about my entire conscious life, its essence. The manuscript consists of almost a thousand poems (the collections Spring Freeze, Search for Essence, Goda's Wink - quatrains,yl Knife to the Heart, Hope's Clearing Gift of Being as well as the poem 'Such is Life', etc.)
"In the court's decision, December 22, 1980, a consciously distorted and tendentious interpretation of my poetic work was presented. Such a political evaluation of creative work apparently fitted in with the spirit of lies which reigned at the time. But now, it is becoming obviously clear that the view of reality expressed in the poems accurately reflected historical developments, and the imperative of changes in the life of society which have begun today.
"My pen was guided by Truth, and served only the quest for Truth and Goodness. Hence, keeping my work in the KGB safes cannot be justified and is contrary to the process of democratization and the international concept of human rights.
"Generally speaking, the persecution of creative work, its confiscation and its occasional destruction, and punishment of the author for what his conscience dictated to him, is tantamount to a crime against humanity, against literature and against culture. Moreover, it is an offense against the mind and against the socialism which you propagate.
"Those who commit this crime try to justify their actions demagogically by saying that they are defending the state, the system, the public order and the like. But at all times and everywhere, once the blindness and the intoxication of insanity has passed, it becomes clear that such action inflicts irreparable damage on that very state and system, marking with the sign of condemnation and shame all who persecute creative efforts, regardless of what artistic results have been attained by them.
"Unfortunate is that society in which security forces (or secret police) have the right to intrude in cultural, literary and artistic affairs. And no one fears the light of publicity more than the security organs. I think you understand why.
"Far be it from me to place too high a value on the significance of my long-term labors. But this does not mean that I have to keep silent and reconcile myself to actions interfering with positive processes in society. I therefore appeal to you to take decisive measures that the aforesaid fruits of my creative efforts be returned to me without delay.
"I have in mind not only the aforesaid works. Taken from me were things written not only during my confinement in the state security committee's isolation unit for interrogation (about 270 verses and the poem The Road), but also in Camp BC-389-35, where I spent 1981-1985.
"I wrote about this in my letter to the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian S.S.R. (I sent a copy also to the Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Lithuania.) Today, those confiscated items are undoubtedly being kept at the security committee.
"Much of my work is at the L.S.S.R. Procurator's Office (more than 150 triolets, poems, prose and other verses). Also to be returned are verses confiscated by KGB agents in 1975 and after a search of my apartment carried out September 4,1979.
"I trust that you will be able to understand me. After all, you are, in a certain sense, a man of certain creative inclinations. My concern for the fate of my entire life is also an uneasiness concerning the future of democratic restructuring. I would like to believe that the latter are real and that the winds of change will not miss Lithuania.
"Alas, so far what hits the eye is an obvious paradox. Truth, incisive works, are demanded. But those which have been created on the basis of its rules and regardless of the danger of angry reaction are imprisoned in the KGB's dungeons, and their author is persecuted. What kind of restructuring, then, are we taking about?
"Truth and justice must triumph. Surely you, to whom governmental power belongs today, will try at least now to abolish injustices, standing up to lies and injustice which try to sidle up to the new conditions."
Povilas Pečeliūnas writes:
"I will answer many questions briefly. It's not worth writing about the weather or my health.
"First, to address the most important one...
"Why did I not make use of the 'possibility' of returning to Lithuania at the end of January?
"Yes, there was such a 'possibility', but at what price? At the price of lack of principle and compromise. During the so-called 'trial', during my final statement, I already emphasized that I never compromised with my conscience, that from the very beginning of my conscious life I am deeply convinced that compromises and lack of principle are incompatible with personhood, that a person can be free only in truth, that nothing can make anyone free except Truth.
"It is possible to be in concentration camp, in an isolation cell and on the most desolate transfer journey, and be free. It is possible to ride around in limousines, to advance by leaps and bounds in one's career, to be smothering in material goods and not be free. Such 'freedom' is only apparent. Compromise and lack of principle, no matter how you explain them, are the mark not of personhood, but of a man in the process of degradation or already degraded. To my soul, this is an entirely foreign thing.
"Those few words, (I promise not to break the law), even though they don't constitute a direct admission of guilt are an absurdity and fly in the face of logic. If a person is not guilty, then why does he have to 'obligate himself not to break the law'? After all, he never broke any for one thing. Moreover, he did quite the contrary: he did not break any himself and he was concerned that others not break any, that everyone abide by the law, not only in word but in deed.
"Such a person had to endure all the terrors of concentration camp, interrogation, transfer journies and isolation cell for raising his voice at a time when everyone was silent, because he was not a coward, and spoke the the truth, bitter as it was. And now, it is demanded of such people that they promise to keep the law. Is this not absurd?
"Moreover, who is demanding it? Why those who broke the law or those who were responsible for carrying it out. See at what a paradox we have arrived!
"Thus, what I have written here was said by me, directly and openly, not only to the KGB but also to representatives of the Procurator's Office who came to 'liberate' me in such an absurd fashion.
"What is this? An attempt to excuse those whom no laws bothered or bother now? Or perhaps an attempt indirectly to make the point that such as I must be guilty of something? That is probably how it is. What a waste of effort!
"In a word, they were talking to the wrong man — something I told them to their face. The address is known; let them go see those who prepared such 'cases' in such 'trials' as the one which took place December 15-22,1980.
"He who chooses the way of Truth must follow it to the end, regardless of what happens to him. Of course, this is no credit to me. Father Jakštas was right in saying that 'it is not our own light which we radiate.' Without God's blessing all of us would be helpless.
"During my so-called 'trial', I had the opportunity in my final statement to quote the words of Sacred Scripture: 'He who does not disown me before men, I will not disown him before my father...' (and vice versa)
"And after the trial, nothing gave me more pleasure than the fact that I had said those words recorded in the Gospel. I was thinking about neither the terrible transfer journey, nor about the concentration camp, but was merely rejoicing that I had as a matter of principle publicly professed Christ at such a moment. Just for this, it was worth going to concentration camp.
"Principle, if it becomes a necessity for someone, deeply imbedded in the heart, surfaces at important moments. Obviously, this also is not my doing but the hand of Divine Providence accompanying us everywhere.
"From that handful of words, you can understand why I could not act otherwise. If I had been tempted by so-called 'freedom', I would have lost true freedom which can only be found in Truth.
"And these are not just words, but the bedrock and essence of my life! To lose this would mean to stop being human. It always seems to me that those people deserve pity, who fight against Truth, who try to conceal it, falsify it... A wasted effort!
"The Truth will make you free' — likewise words from the Gospel which I repeated with deep conviction in my final statement. Hence, neither the KGB nor the procurator's office nor any other officials can 'free' one and not some absurd signatures, but only Truth! Incidentally, I was never not free!
"As for the homeland, I was never separated from it! My homeland, Lithuania, which no one was able to take from me, was always with me! It is in my heart! Perhaps this is why it is so precious! Distance means nothing!
"To date, I am still 'an especially dangerous state criminal...' Why 'dangerous', and 'especially' besides? Dangerous to whom? Why to those who fear the truth, to those who still believe that it is possible to shut Truth up in a cave, to imprison it or so conceal it that no one can know about it. However, Truth is more powerful than anything, and the measures to conceal Truth are regrettable: intimidation, force... And again... but, ...but!...
"Life shows those means by which we try to imprison Truth give only temporary 'results'. The Lord's ways are inscrutable and woe to him who tries to oppose them.
"It appears that I have explained to you why I acted thus and not otherwise. Perhaps you are startled? Be steadfast and patient until the end in the homeland! May the Good God bless you!"
P.S. "Now concerning my mother! Every day, I waited for the telegram. She waited for me all those (almost eight) years, day and night, standing at the window. And when, three years ago, she took to her sickbed never to rise again, day and night she talked about me and prayed. She was sustained not by physical strength, but by the infinite desire to see me once more... But that strength will not be enough for her, and the Lord will summon her earlier, so she will also make that sacrifice no smaller than that of all of us.
"Concerning letters. I write to everyone who writes to me and reply to everyone. If anyone writes to me and does not receive a letter from me, it either means that theirs was not delivered to me or mine was not delivered to them.
"It appears that I have written about all the most important things."
Mrs. Pečeliūnienė died in August without having seen her son. Pečeliūnas was allowed to attend his mother's funeral which took place August 21.
To: Procurator of the Lithuanian S.S.R., A.A. Novikov Esteemed Procurator!
I have been moved to write to you about Petras Anilionis's article published in the Peasant's Newspaper, October 11, 1987. In an effort to show the baselessness of the author's statements and even threats, I attach to this letter my communication written April 22,1984, to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Lithuania, which your office refused to convey to the addressee and returned.
If we are to consider as anti-Soviet everything which hurts the Soviet Union as a state, then the author of the aforesaid article should be included among the real anti-Soviets.
1.Petras Anilionis explains Par. 50 of the L.S.S.R. Constitution in a deliberately distorted way, affirming that "separation of school from Church... must be understood as a prohibition against ...teaching children religious matters..."
2.Petras Anilionis, in matters of religious education, indirectly rejects Par. 19 of the U.S.S.R. law "concerning the U.S.S.R. Council of Ministers", adhering to "international agreements entered into by the U.S.S.R."
3.Petras Anilionis indirectly ignores Artices 26 and 27 of the law of the Vienna Conference concerning international agreements, accepted by the government of the U.S.S.R., and the principles of the declaration regarding international laws dealing with friendly relations and cooperation among states in accord with U.N. guidelines.
4.Petras Anilionis, by his anti-Church article, showed that he does not acknowledge:
A. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
B. Part 4 of Article 18 of the International Covenant on Political and
C. The section of the Helsinki Final Accords which speaks about the obligations of the participating states regarding the question of human rights and basic freedoms;
D. The Section of the final document from the conference among those same states in Helsinki containing the obligation to improve their own laws and administrative regulations in the area of human right and basic freedoms.
All the above-named documents provide a basis for perfecting Soviet law or they already enjoy actual juridical status in the Soviet Union. Hence, all of Petras Anilionis' tendentious explanations are purely subjective. They have no juridical basis since the Regulations for Religious Associations mentioned by him are contrary not only to the above-named norms of international law recognized and confirmed by the U.S.S.R., but also to the Soviet Constitution itself. That this is the real state of affairs is demonstrated in the enclosure to this letter.
I remind you, as was mentioned in the XXVII Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and is still being discussed in the Soviet press, that attached to it all are very many of the most varied rules, regulations, directives, orders, instructions, circulars and other administrative "laws" of this nature which have no real legal basis, or even violate the Soviet Constitution.
Among such "laws" are the Regulations for Religious Associations, which at this time during restructuring of the country must be repealed without delay or at least publicly acknowledged to be invalid. This must be done especially now that great attention is being paid at the Vienna Conference of thirty-five states to the question of the defense of the rights of believers.
It is dishonorable and not useful for the Soviet Union to be the only state in the world (not counting Albania and a few other undeveloped countries) in which an attempt is made by means of government resources to stifle religion to the point of utter destruction. With such policy, the U.S.S.R. will never win trust in the world community and among governments. Such policy, and the atheistic and anti-Church activity dictated by it, compromises the U.S.S.R. as a state, diminishes its international prestige, and weakens the foundations of the state itself.
So let Petras Anilionis and others of like mind not be offended if it is exactly in this sense possible to consider them all dangerous anti-Soviets, very greatly damaging by their actions the Soviet Union.
The war against religion by such measures..., which Petras Anilionis explains in his article, is also an insult to Leninism and an obvious ignoring of Vladimir Ilych Lenin and his teaching. That this is really so, let Lenin himself speak... (V. Lenin, Complete Works, Vol. 7, Page 1976, Col. 173) And yet even during Czarist times, even in Lithuania, those "shameful laws" never threatened punishment for teaching children religious truths. There were religion lessons in school.
Now with the spread and deepening of the policy of restructuring in all strata of the country, Petras Anilionis and his cohorts should consider: What would Lenin say about all those restrictions and prohibitions which abound in the Regulations for Religious Associations?
Here's a question also for you, Esteemed Procurator. Can the Office of the Procurator of the L.S.S.R. continue to remain ambivalent when the atheists, seeking their goals and as a matter of fact administering the Catholic Church in Lithuania and other religious associations, ignore or distort the Soviet Constitution and all international obligations in the area of human rights and basic freedoms?
Such ambivalence on the part of the state organs, especially in the area of religion and belief, also does not add to the strengthening of Soviet statehood and the perfecting and broadening of real democracy.
At the same time, may I inform you that I carried out my hunger strikes, begun on March 7,1984, which are described in the attached. (In these conditions, it was not easy. Three times I felt faint, once to the point of losing consciousness.)
I will discontinue my fasting on my last day in camp.
They have informed me of your reply, in writing, of October 28,1987. (No. 13-4279-80) I thank you for it, since it fills out my information and conclusions regarding compliance with Soviet law in the practice of the guardians of justice...
Vytautas Skuodis (Benedict Scott) Mordovia, Barashev. December 10,1986 - Human Rights Day