Šiauliai. On March 17, 1976, at 8:30 P.M. a fire was discovered in the front tower of the Church of St. George, in Šiauliai. The fire department and militia of the City of Šiauliai were summoned. Some of the firemen were inebriated; they worked without enthusiasm or organization; when the faithful asked them to get on with the work of putting out the fire, they would reply with sarcastic and unprintable remarks.
With the tower blazing, they misdirected the stream from the fire-hose. When the people asked them to aim at the fire, the firemen sarcastically explained, "We can't pour water on the belfry, — it might melt the bells."
Their sarcastic comments could be heard to the effect that the bells would soon be falling. Once the small belfry had collapsed, the larger one came down soon after. Even though many fire engines had answered the call, only one engine was operating, and its hoses were perforated. The water flowed more on the ground than on the fire. In the street, the following engines stood by idle: LIZ 34-13; LII 4-50; 99-19-29; 27-82.
Those standing further off could see clearly how the flames were approaching the larger belfry. When the people asked the firefighters to cut off the advance of the blaze, the latter threatened to have the complainers arrested.
When the flames had enveloped most of the church, at 9 P.M. a military firefighters' unit was summoned. The firefighters from Šiauliai, although doing nothing, did not wish to turn over the task of fighting the fire to the soldiers. They ordered the military detachment to withdraw 200 meters from the church.
Only when the faithful asked repeatedly, it it were possible for the military detachment to replace the city firemen and to get on seriously with the task of extinguishing the fire. Thanks to the military, the fire was extinguished, the altars were saved and the large belfry survived.
The Šiauliai newspaper announced that the church caught fire because of bad furnaces, even though that day the stoves of the church had not been lit. The people do not doubt that the church was set afire by people of bad will.
To the Attorney General of the Lithuanian S.S.R. Copy to His Excellency, Bishop Liudas Povilonis A Statement by The Rev. Juozas Zdebskis, Son of Vincas, Residing in Šlavantai, Rayon ofLazdijai
Early in the morning of March 10, 1976, in my "Žiguli" automobile, LIG 77-21, I was driving athe invalid (Miss) Z. Medonaitė, a resident of the Village of Gudeliai, Rayon of Lazdijai, to Vilnius, accompanied by her father, Jonas Medonas. Also accompanying us was Citizen Jonas Stašaitis, residing at Vilniaus 7, in Vilnius-Salininkai.
As we entered Vilnius on the Minsk Highway, at approximately 10 a.m., we were detained by an agent of the Department of Motor avehicles. (When we asked his name, he introduced himself as "Jurevich".) He claimed that I was intoxicated, and ordered me to accompany him to the psychiatric hospital on Vasaros Gatvė, to determine the degree of intoxication.
There a doctor (who never told us her name) took my pulse, told me to walk across the room, had me breathe into a glass of reddish liquid, and recorded that I was intoxicated. I appealed to the chief of staff of the aforementioned hospital, demanding that an analysis of my blood be made. The chief of staff telephoned someone, giving them my name, and then categorically refused to do a blood analysis, on the grounds that a couple of hours had already gone by, and the test would be inconclusive.
They demanded that I leave my automobile in Department of Motor Vehicles yard on Kosciusko Gatvė, took my driver's license, and told me to reclaim my auto at 5 p.m.
I have never been intoxicated in my life. As a priest, I crusade against excessive drinking. That day, I had not even offered Mass, during which the priest consumes a few grams of dry grape wine. The aforesaid passengers are my witnesses that we left at dawn, and had not stopped anywhere along the way. The aforesaid Stašaitis had eaten breakfast with me. He can testify that neither that morning nor the evening before this incident had we consumed any alcoholic beverages. How could the medical examination indicate intoxication?
I have been driving since 1953, and not one auto inspector has ever told me, "You are intoxicated!" If it was immediately obvious to the Department of Motor Vehicles agent that I was intoxicated, then how was it that this was not noticed by the family of the patient, when they allowed their daughter to be driven by an "intoxicated" driver?
How is one to understand this incident? Why did the Department of Motor Vehicles have to sequester my automobile for several hours? Why was it necessary to "make a priest drunk"? Was it merely a case of incompetence on the part of the officials or was it necessary for atheistic propaganda? Why did the chief of staff of the psychiatric hospital refuse to perform a blood test to determine intoxication? The aforesaid invalid was forced to sit tion procedures were completed, since she is unable to walk.
News of the aforesaid incident spread in a strange manner. Acquaintances in Kaunas and Vilnius greet me with a smile as "the new drunkard", knowing that in twenty-four years of my career, there has not been a single person who has ever seen me drink.
In the name of justice I request that this incident be investigated, and that you direct that such ridicule of citizens not be repeated. I also request that my dirver's license which was taken from me without grounds, be returned to me.
Šlavantai, March 26, 1976 Rev. Juozas Zdebskis
A Letter to the Bishop
On the night of February 17, 1976, at about 11 p.m., while while walking in the churchyard, I noticed two strange men (one tall and the other somewhat smaller), who were smoking and, walking briskly, turned into the hospital yard, which serves also as the rectory yard. The hospital is the former rectory, just a few steps from the churchyard.
At first I thought that the men were hurrying on some serious matter to the hospital. However, they passed the hospital doors and hurried on to the rectory. Immediately, I thought that the object of their nocturnal visit was the rectory. I hurried after them. At that moment Nurse (Mrs.) Sofija Mikelioniene, who when she noticed them standing between the rectory and the hospital, inquired, "What are you boys waiting for?"
Receiving no answer from them, the nurse hurried to the doctor, whose apartment is on the northern side of the sanctuary. Our paths crossed. I inquired who the men were and what they wanted. She showed me that they were standing at the end of the yard. I turned to go in their direction Seeing me, they set off. (The next morning the footprints of two people could be distinguished on the spot, and a cigarette butt was found. The footprints were identical with those near the church.)
I became suspicious of the two individuals. After waiting briefly, I went around the hospital and up the street a short way, looked about the square on the other side of the church, the bus stop one hundred meters from the church, and then returned through the churchyard, checking the main doors and the sacristy door. When I returned to the rectory, it was 11:45.
On February 18, 1976, at 8 o'clock in the morning, I went to unlock the church. Hardly had I opened the first door to the sacristy (which is not kept locked), than I immediately caught the odor of smoke and smoldering. I was surprised, since there had been no services the evening before, which would have required incense. I tried to place the key in the lock, but I was unsuccessful. Only then did I notice that the door lock had been damaged. Then I saw the doors smoking, a fire smoldering, and underfoot the seared implements of the crime: a crow-bar and a drill.
Understanding that there had been an attempt to perpetrate a vile crime, I carefully looked around. Not far from the steps which lead to the sacristy the snow was trampled (the footprints were identical to those beyond the hospital). The footprints near the church led from the south side of a small gate. The culprits had taken a rake from a lumber pile by the churchyard, and had dragged it over the snow, apparently in an attempt to cover up their tracks. We later found it nowhere. Perhaps it has been used to build the fire at the sacristy, and it was burned at that time.
Not far from the lumber, in the snow lay a liter-size container, like a milk bottle. When the militia officials arrived and investigated, it appeared that it had contained combustible liquid: kerosene or gasoline. Also found among the footprints was a small square fob on a plastic chain, probably from the keys to a small automobile. On the fob was the name "RYGA". From the scene of the crime footprints led to the main gates of the churchyard, and beyond that along the street towards Veisėjai. Especially clear was one set of footprints, those of large shoes.
After this preliminary investigation, I telephoned the local deputy of the militia in Liepalingis and asked him to come and look over the scene of the crime. Deputy of Militia Julius Milius informed the internal affairs division of the Rayon of Lazdijai about the incident and came over himself to stand guard until higher officials arrived. The burned floor smoldered the whole time, until internal affairs workers arrived from the rayon. The latter once more carefully inspected everything: They took charge of the implements of the crime, photographed and took imprints of the footprints in the snow. They wrote up a report which I and two witnesses signed: Jonas Čiurlionis and Antanas Kvietkauskas.
It seems that, the crime is all the greater, since its true purpose was not to break in, but to burn down the church. For breaking in, the crow-bar with which they damaged the door-jamb and wall would have sufficed. Also, the drill could have served to enter. But why was the combustible liquid needed? Having failed to break into the church, they poured it over the door and ignited it. The culprits hoped that this would set the door afire. Inside, near the door was a wardrobe for liturgical vestments, and right next to the door hung a cassock intended for visiting clergy. Not much was needed for the sacristy to catch fire from these articles, and from here the whole church would have caught fire.
The culprits made one mistake: They closed the first unlocked door of the sacristy. Or rather, it shut itself. But even so, a great part of the door was burned from the bottom, the wooden floor was badly burned, near the door.
If they had broken in, the culprits would probably have soaked the liturgical vestments or the altar cloths and then the entire church would have been swallowed in flames momentarily. And that was at midnight, when everyone was asleep.
Why were the implements of crime left behind: the crowbar and the drill? This could have happened for one of two reasons. Either some passerby frightened them off, since the hospital is nearby, and it often happens that emergency patiens are brought in, or often the doctor is summoned to a patient. Or, when the culprits poured out the incendiary fuel, it suddenly caught fire, and there was no possibility of picking up the tools.
Hence, this crime is serious on account of its far-reaching implications. Your Excellency, please give your attention to this matter and inform the appropriate government agencies.
Very respectfully yours,
Liepalingis, February 22, 1976 Father K. Ambrasas
To: The Faculty of the Lukšiai Middle School
Copies to: 1. The Education Ministry of the Lithuanian S.S.R.
2. ŠakiaiRayon Department of Public Education
3. Department of Public Education Vice-President (Mrs.) D. Noreikienė of the ŠakiaiRayon Executive Committee
An Open Letter
Eighteen years ago I graduated from Lukšiai Middle School. Quite some time has passed, but my ties with the school have not been and will never be severed. They will never be severed because school accounts for many of the memories in a person's life. During the years of attendance, the school becomes like a second home. Perhaps that is why one wants to daydream and talk about it and be proud of it. On the other hand, it is very painful to hear anything derogatory about it. One yearns to hear only very good responses about the hallowed halls and expects its teachers to be shining examples. Unfortunately, the bright memory of one's school is occasionally clouded over.
More than ten years ago atheistic education took over Lukšiai Middle School under the guise of cultural extra-curricular activity. As a result both pupils and parents have suffered sorely. Because of their religious beliefs they have been put down, mocked, and discriminated against. No longer able to tolerate the teachers' tactless and coarse behavior, the parents in 1972 sent a collective complaint to the Attorney General of the Lithuania S.S.R., bearing fourteen signatures. After this complaint the persecution of believing pupils seemed to abate slightly for a while; at least there were no obvious incidents. But in 1975 the forceful atheistic education of pupils erupted again. This time it was especially marked by its tactless and unprofessional methods.
At the beginning of the school year a drive for obligatory subscriptions to atheist newspapers was organized (we have no others). When a pupil in 10B, Rolandas Tamulevičius, refused to subscribe to an atheist paper, his homeroom teacher, Mrs. Sakalauskienė, wanting to mock him painfully asked, "Then perhaps we should order a prayerbook for you?" Everyone knows that we have no prayer-books to be ordered or bought.
On Dec. 25, 1975, the girls of the Class 10 brought a Christmas tree to school and decorated it in the classroom. On the blackboard they wrote the greeting "Merry Christmas!" During the first two periods the teachers ordered the class monitors to erase the greeting and discard the tree. The monitors would erase the greeting, but the tree remained. The third period teacher was the principal, B. Urbonas. Upon entering the classroom he became angry and sullen. He forced monitor Jonas Pranaitis to erase the words from the blackboard and to throw the nicely decorated tree into the garbage can. After that began interrogations with threats, coarse rebukes, shameless mockery and threats. They continued through the entire class period. As if that wasn't enough, the interrogation and threats continued, with interruptions, over the next three days. During that time pupils were called individually from their classrooms to the principal's office. About half of the class was called out. Questioning of some pupils dragged on for several class periods. Although there was no physical punishment, pupils were threatened with failing grades, expulsion from school, police involvement, etc.
News of this incident has spread well beyond the boundaries of the rayon. Not only the victimized pupils and their parents, but the general public too is scandalized by the principal's behavior.
They are scandalized because by his behavior Principal B. Urbonas has violated: 1) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 2) The 1975 accords of the 35 participating countries at the Helsinki Conference, 3) the Constitution of the U.S.S.R. and 4) pedagogical principles.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights ratified by the United Nations General Assembly on Dec. 10, 1948, states: "Every person has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right allows . . . freedom to study religion, officiate and participate in religious ceremonies." (par. 18) "Every person has the right to freedom of his beliefs and the expression of them; this right allows the freedom to hold to one's beliefs and to freely seek, receive, and disseminate information and ideas by any means . . ." (par. 19) "Education should be directed to total character development and respect for basic human rights. Education must aid mutual understanding, friendship between nations, races and religious groups, with the goal of preserving peace . ." (par. 26)
According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, pupils have the right to believe, to freely study religion, freely express their beliefs, freely practice and disseminate them; but these rights are not recognized by anyone at Lukšiai Middle Middle School. I wonder, how is this justified? Perhaps B. Urbonas does not consider his pupils as human, since he denies them basic human rights?
At the Helsinki Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which took place on July 30 and the first days of August in 1976, it was decided: The participating nations pledge to honor human rights and basic freedoms, including freedom of thought, conscience, religion and beliefs, regardless of race, sex, language or religion . . . participating nations recognize and pledge to honor the individual's right to profess his religion or beliefs privately or collectively, according to the dictates of his own conscience." (Final Act, VII). This "Final Act" was signed by representatives of 35 heads of state, including the Secretary General of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, L. Brezhnev.
The Agreements are very attractive and humane, but the administration of the Lukšiai Middle School is not abiding by them. I wonder how they are contributing to the preservation of total peace in Europe and the entire world?
The Soviet Constitution guarantees to all citizens freedom of conscience; that is, the right of every citizen to profess any religion, the right to participate in cult services, and equality of citizens, regardless of religious affiliation.
Why do the Lukšiai Middle School teachers not abide by these laws? Perhaps they do not consider themselves citizens of the Soviet Union or have become accustomed to considering what the laws state as one matter, but actual behavior as another matter?
Finally on August 26, 1975, prior to the new school year, a regional teachers' conference was held at Šakiai. Present was a representative from Vilnius, A. Sinkevičius. Among other things, he spoke about the need for teachers to exercise tact in dealing with pupils and their parents. The speaker warned that all sorts of incidents and indiscretions become widely known and news even reaches other countries and scandalizes people.
Although little time has passed since the aforementioned conference, the administration of the Lukšiai Middle School has already forgotten the suggestions.
As a former pupil of B. Urbonas, I am reluctant to speak negatively about him. I respect Mr. Urbonas for his mathematical knowledge. I am grateful that he was my teacher. When the idea to write this letter first came to me, I procrastinated, wavered, and thought a great deal. A chance happening aided me in making a decision: on one television program a speaker quoted the words of R. Eberhardt: "Do not fear your enemies—at worst they can murder you. Do not fear your friends—at worst they can betray you. Rather fear the non-involved—they do not murder or betray, but it is with their approval that betrayal and murder exist in this world." It was then that I concluded I could no longer remain non-involved.
Wishing to remain objective, I will not rely on my own intelligence but will borrow from pedagogical literature. In the Jan. 31, 1968 issue of The Soviet Teacher (Tarybinis mokytojas), a publication of the Lithuanian S.S.R. Educational Ministry, there is an article about the teacher's authority. I wonder what Principal B. Urbonas has to say about himself in this regard? If he wants to be objective, he will have to admit that he violated pedagogical principles. First of all, he did not maintain pedagogical tact, considered the pupils delinquents because of their Christmas tree, focused on trivia, raised unnecessary commotion, and built a mountain out of a mole hill.
In reality the pupils are not guilty of anything. After all, is the decoration of a Christmas tree and the writing of a greeting a crime? Was it worth three days of interrogation, missed classes, threats of expulsion and police involvement?
If this is being done, where is the declared freedom of conscience and religion? Why then are paragraphs guaranteeing freedom of conscience written into the Constitution; why are Universal Declarations of Human Rights ratified? Why the Helsinki Accords; why the attractive words of propaganda in the press?
The pupils and their parents who are being persecuted for their beliefs wish that all these nice agreements would not only be ratified and publicized, but also honored. Otherwise, the statements about freedom, equality, happiness and satisfaction are just empty words.
Today some think that the easiest way is to punish, but it should be realized that the easiest way is not always the best.
Enthusiastically embracing and upholding what is beautiful and good, equally enthusiastically that which is bad should be despised. Despised and actively opposed. Opposed for the sake of our future.
Former pupil, Gvidenas Dovydaitis
Šakiai, Jan. 30, 1976
(The letter has been condensed — Ed.)
To the Editors of Tiesa
My son Vilius was killed in 1971 while serving in the army. His company commander allowed me to bring my son's body back to Vajosiškis and to bury him as I wished. An officer and two soldiers accompanied the body. Local Soviet officials began coercing me to bury my son without church services, stating that otherwise I would be sorrry. They demanded this several times. They did not consider my grief at losing a twenty-year old son.
When I refused to give in, and buried my son with church services, everybody turned away from me. There was no orchestra, no salute; the collective farm did not participate, even though my son had worked there as a tractor driver and chauffeur before serving in the army. The school interfered with the burial services of its former pupil. The principal forbade his pupils to participate in the funeral and herded them into the hall. Those who were carrying wreaths in the procession were directed to the hall by frantic teachers. And so they expressed their contempt for a fallen soldier, because he was being buried with church services.
In September of this year the fence on my son's grave was broken, and crucifixes were torn off. It appears that this was a carry-over of the mood from my son's funeral—to desecrate his grave because he was religiously buried because the graves were vandalized by pupils of the Vajosiškis Grammar School. That was admitted by one of the participants, Vaidas Saladžius.
On November 5 I contacted the Zarasai Rayon police regarding this matter. The police responded on November 17 by Document Nr. 34 stating: "Regarding the pupils of the Vajosiškis Grammar School: K.P. Bagdonavičius, A.K. Gerasimov, and B. J. Juodvalkis, related to the tearing of crucifixes from the gravestones in Vajosiškis cemetery, information has been obtained and sent for deliberations to their respective classrooms. As to the breakage of the fence alleged in your report, we have no suspects."
From this response one can assume that the fence around the grave will not be replaced. Even though B. Saladžius stated that it was broken by A. Gerasimov, K. Bagdonavičius, B. Juodvalkis and A. Vaivada. There are no plans to repair the vandalized gravestones. The principal of Vajosiškis School, J. Kuolas, tries to shake off the responsibility, and frequently he just laughs when reminded that the ruined gravestones have yet to be replaced.
V. Saladžius and (Mrs.) T. Sakalauskienė showed Principal J. Kuolis a whole storage room of vandalized crucifixes hidden in the cemetery. The aforesaid students tore those figures off with pliers and pieces of iron torn from the fence around my son's grave. The crucifixes were apparently being collected to be sold. Why do they refuse to find out the culprits? They are the guiltiest; why are they being protected?
What am I to do? Should I appeal to the commander of the army unit in which my son served? Or somewhere else, that the memory of my soldier-son would not be insulted?
(Mrs.) Z. Medinienė A Soldier's Mother
Rayon of Zarasai
Vajosiškis Post Office Pūsliai
December, 1975 Vilnius
In a niche outside the wall of the Church of the Immaculate Conception (in Žvėrynas) stood a statue of the Virgin Mary. The people loved it; they would decorate it with flowers and pray before it constantly.
During the night of December 31, 1975, New Year's Eve, unknown culprits broke the statue in half and knocked off its hands.
Vilnius. February 3-6, 1976, representatives of Propaganda and Agitation Sections from allrayons and some teachers met in Vilnius. During the seminar, the talk was about propaganda work, atheistic lectures were delivered (Aničas and others were among the speakers). In the course of these it was stated that the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania is edited by Bishop Julijus Steponavičius, residing in Žagarė, that some issues of the publication are not reactionary, that in Lithuania only a small edition of the Chronicle is published, that it is sent to Poland, where it is reproduced and sent abroad.
The majority of the priests remains loyal. In the seminary in Kaunas there are fifty seminarians; about five men are ordained annually, while in the same period about seventeen priests die. In the near future, priests will have to serve two parishes each.
In Lithuania there are about 1500 religious sisters. The sisters work mostly as nurses and help to see that the patients receive the sacraments. There are no sisters in the villages. The sisters also teach the children prayers and catechism. If you ask a young child who taught him or her the catechism, and they should answer, "Sister," know that it was a nun.
If after the war physicians were for the most part atheists, today there are religious believers among the doctors.
Šumskas (Rayon of Vilnius)
In February of 1976 the District Chairman summoned the pensioner invalid Zigmas Podverskis, who was working as a sacristan for the church in Šumskas, and demanded that he give up his work at the church, or otherwise his son, who lived separately and served as secretary of the Party organization at the local soviet farm would be discharged from work, along with the son's wife —a teacher with a high degree of training.
Švenčionėliai. October 3, 1975. In the Village of Švenčionėliai, Vytautas Ivonis, a worker and a Communist, aid. His wife arranged with the pastor of Švenčionėliai to have the deceased buried October 6. Attending the funeral were the brothers of the deceased, bitter Communists. One of them was the secretary of the Malėtai Rayon Party Committee. They decided that their brother had to be buried without the Church, according to the Communist ritual.
They therefore approached the Secretary of the Party of Švenčioniai Rayon, (Miss) Purvenckaitė, to assist them. She directed them to Vice President Mačionis of the rayon executive committee. Thus, at 10 a.m. on the day of the funeral, Mačionis summoned the pastor of Švenčionėliai, Father Baltušis, and asked,
"Do you know who it is that you are burying today?
"Yes, I know."
"But he was a Communist, and therefore an atheist, so that he cannot be buried with the rites of the Church."
"What kind of an atheist was he, if he was married in church, had his children baptized, and went to confession. I cannot refuse to bury him."
"But you must find a pretext not to bury him. Do you understand?"
"Not at all. Everything has been prepared in church and agreed
The brothers, discovering that the deceased was being buried with Catholic rites, refused to hire an orchestra at work, tore up the recorded tapes from which religious music was playing at the casket of the deceased, tore the rosary from the hand of the deceased and stuffed it into his coat pocket, and finally hid the cross which had been brought home from church for the procession. Having accompanied the remains of the brother as far as the church, they remained outside the churchyard all during the services, and then accompanying the remains to the cemetery during the burial rites they stood outside the cemetery fence and dared to approach the grave only after everyone had dispersed.
For the funeral the wife, also a Communist, was punished.
She explained that she had buried her husband as a Catholic because that had been his last wish. She was threatened with expulsion from the Party.
(Mrs.) Viktorija Gurskienė, who had been working for nine years conscientiously in the inter-communal farm building organization, had been on the waiting list for five years for a motorcycle. In 1975 the organization's union unanimously voted Viktorija Gurskienė and her husband, who worked in the same office, an assignment to purchase a motorcycle. In spite of the union's decision the consignment was cancelled upon pressure from the Širvintai Rayon Executive Committee, and the Gurskas couple was told sarcastically "Go see your pastor, and let him give you a motorcycle."
Gelažiai (Rayon of Panevėžys)
The night of August 28-29, 1975, persons unknown broke into the church in Gelažiai, stole the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament, three chalices and a paten. The militia of Panevėžys was informed, but no one came to investigate the crime. The night of September 3, thieves again broke into the church in Gelažiai. The militia was informed again. After the second burglary, the militia arrived. On September 15 the monstrance was found discarded in an orchard. . . . From the militia at Panevėžys, only the following response in writing was received,
"We wish to inform you that your statement about the break-in at the church, dated August 29, 1975, has been examined. Who took the church articles has not been determined by investigation. According to the statement at hand, no criminal action is to be taken, on the basis of Paragraph 131 of the Criminal Code of the Lithuanian S.S.R., and Paragraph 8, on account of the insignificance of the matter.
Chief of the Internal Affairs Division of the Rayon of Panevėžys
October 15, 1975
During the night of December 2-3, 1975, the church of Šaukotas was burglarized. The matter was reported to the militia, but the latter never acted.
The security police of the Rayon of Rokiškis interrogated Treasurer Mažeikis of the Church of Salos about some trees which had been cut down in the churchyard and about an animal which had been taken from there to a farm. Also summoned to Security was Chairman Šukys of the parish council. He was also interrogated about the trees which had been cut down in the churchyard. Moreover, he was asked how many times his place had been searched. Šukys was accused of transmitting information abroad. The security people threatened Šukys, "Have done with theChronicle, or you'll be leaving your wife and children!"
Rayon of Šiauliai
In the forest of Agailiai is a small cemetery, named the Cemetery of Agailiai or the Cemetery of Neilaičiai. According to local tradition, insurgents of 1863 and serfs from the plantation of Kleisčiai who had been whipped to death were buried there. People used to visit the graves. Among the old crosses and shrines the people erected new crosses in thanksgiving for favors received.
At Pentecost, pilgrims would come even from afar off. Later, permission was obtained to conduct services. Residents of the area erected a cement chapel, 9m x 16m in size. During the summer of 1975 the people refurbished the chapel, erecting a new altar, laying a concrete floor, installing a ceiling and white-washing it.
When the work on the chapel had been completed, on September 9, 1975, Vice Chairman Beržinis, of the Executive Committee of the Rayon of Šiauliai, who is responsible for the churches and clergy of the rayon, organized a work team and completely destroyed the chapel, not sparing even the foundation. The most zealous of the work team was Žaltauskas, a forestry employee, who took great delight in ripping out the altars.
People still visit the little cemetery of Neilaičiai, recalling with heavy heart the bonds of slavery—the Russian terror in Lithuania.
Diocese of Telšiai
The Deputy for Religious Affairs, Kazimieras Tumėnas, in the monthly Tarybų Darbas, 1975, No. 4, p. 28, replies to the question, whether clergy are allowed to conduct religious services outside places of worship:
"The priest has the right to give the last rites to patients at home, in hospital or in places of incarceration, if the patients themselves desire it. In the latter two cases it is mandatory to see to it that the rites not annoy other citizens; i.e., that those rites be carried out in separate facilities. It sometimes happens that some authorities, especially hospital employees, do not wish to admit the priest into their institution, arguing that there are no separate facilities, etc.
"Of course, there is sometimes a problem with facilities, but the administration does not have the right to keep the minister from a critically ill patient: it is mandatory to find a separate facility."
Dr. Mažrimas, Chief of Staff of the rayon hospital of Skuodas, does not acknowledge this right of the faithful, and he refuses to admit any priest into the hospital to visit dying believers.
On February 3, 1976, Jonas Baltinas lay critically ill in the hospital at Skuodas. He sent his daughter (Mrs.) Jadvyga Grikštienė to Chief of Staff Mažrimas, asking permission to summon the priest. He refused permission because in his judgment, the hospital is a government institution and priests are not allowed to enter.
The family had to discharge the dying patient from the hospical in order to obtain the last sacraments for him. In a few days, Baltinas died.
There are many cases like this one, in which Chief of Staff Mažrimas, of the Skuodas Hospital does not allow people to make use of the freedom of conscience guaranteed by the Constitution. However, no one disciplines him for such unjust and inhumane conduct, restricting the freedom of conscience.
(Miss) Izabelė Malukaitė had been working as chairwoman of the Society for the Blind, of theRayon of Skuodas, since 1971. Her work received high ratings. The section of the Society for the Blind of which she was in charge took first place in the zone, and in 1974 it took first place in the entire republic. At the end of 1975 she was asked whether she went to church.
"I have gone, I go, and I intend to continue going, I do not wish to be a hypocrite," replied Miss Malukaitė, "After all, we do have freedom of conscience in the Soviet Union".
For this frank statement, Miss Malukaitė was discharged from her position as chairwoman.
Šiauliai.During the night of March 13, 1976, the Church of Saints Peter and Paul in, Šiauliai, was Burglarized. The offering boxes were torn out.
During the night of March 13, 1976, culprits broke into the church at Aukštelkė. Not finding anything of value, they broke a candelabra, and vandalized the pedestals on which the candelabra stood.
Rayon of Kaunas
On February 11, 1976, a search was made of the quarters of Henrikas Klimašauskas, who was working as an engineer in the planning institute of the construction section of the City of Kaunas. Taking part in the search were four security agents, among whom were Security Agents Linauskas and Lazarevičius. The search lasted six hours. The apartment and a storage shed outside were searched. Personal papers, letters and many manuscripts were seized. The security people failed to find Aleksandr Solzhenytsin's book, Gulag Archipelago, which they were seeking.
Henrikas Klimašauskas was arrested and is being held at security headquarters in Kaunas.
Engineer Antanas Garbštas, formerly employed in the state office of security for industry and mining, donated some fiber-glass which hea had purchased, for the repairs on the church at Kapsukas. The rayon authorities found out.
Engineer Garbštas' behavior was discussed at the party headquarters. He was asked whether he was a believer. The engineer answered:
"So perhaps you attend church?"
"Yes. My parents attended and so do I."
On March 25,1976 Engineer Garbstąs was fired from his job.
Niorai. (Republic of Byelorussia). The Rev. Jonas Grabovskis, pastor of Niorai, when harassed by the Vitebskis government representatives for religious activity, explained that he was acting according to the Helsinki Accord. He was told that Leonid Brezhnev signed the Helsinki Accord while drunk, and therefore the anti-religious agitation was to continue as in the past.