It is difficult to make an accurate assessment of existence in a security prison because the prisoners cannot put everything in letters: The censor does not allow it to pass. Vladas Lapienis complains in one letter: "The interrogator told me that I am allowed to write one letter a month and only about commonplace occurences. But such occurences are very limited in prison; they are repetitive and uninteresting. Occasionally, as I write, a thought will accidentally stray from the established standard. And so, one or two weeks later, I am informed that the censor did not allow the letter to pass and then I have to write again."
The letters of Vladas Lapienis are interesting because alongside every-day events we find beautiful ideas, thoughts and encouragement. He writes his wife: "When I was home, I often related to you excerpts or interesting ideas from books and newspapers I read. So, in keeping with that old habit, I will do likewise in this letter." And so every letter contains a handful of interesting ideas. For instance:
"It sometimes happens that, at certain times, one's life changes to such an extent that one experiences more in several days, weeks or months than one would in one or several years under different circumstances . . . Even here, prayer is not a burden for me or a dry habit, but a living communion with God . . . Now, more than ever, I understand the richness of the "Our Father," the surprising beauty of the "Hail Mary," and the veritable treasury of faith contained in the "Apostles' Creed" . . .
"God's grace reaches even here: It visits, it comforts, it strengthens. God sees each tremor of the soul. Nothing can be hidden from His all-seeing eye . . . Travelling down the road of life, you reach a crossroads, where, like the hero in the story, you face a fateful dilemma: Take one road and lose your soul; take the other and suffer much agony and hardship. You need only choose which road to take!
"Naturally, harsh forceful measures greatly exhaust a man, increasing his longing for those dear to him. From sheer homesickness, the health of a more sensitive person can collapse completely. But even in the most difficult situations one cannot forget that one is an adopted child of God and will have to give an accounting of every word, thought and action . . .
"How great a gift of God is love! It alleviates suffering. The Russian writer Dostoevski said: 'Let them curse us, but we will still love them; they will not be able to withstand our love.'
The prisoner always asks his wife to include in her letters "some short morning prayer and some short quote from the Scriptures. Don't write long prayers or quotes because the atheists will not let me have them anyway ... I have always looked forward to your letters and continue to look forward to them. The only ones I do not look forward to are those which do not contain a single word about the spiritual life. Crumbs of the truths of faith are more precious than gold."
Great faith and reliance on Divine Providence have given the prisoner spiritual strength, despite his poor health. In February he described his mood thus: "I have never before felt this way. I am at peace as never before. I feel no hatred or anger toward anyone. I fear nothing, except sudden noises . . .
"I advise you not to fall into such despair over the present more difficult situation. Does it say anywhere in Scripture that the road of life for the citizens of this world is strewn with roses?"
Seeing his situation very realistically, Lapienis asks his wife not to seek lawyers for the upcoming trial: "You are a Catholic and I am also a believer, but Attorney Kudaba is an atheist, a nonbeliever; then, how can he defend me, when he holds anti-religious views? Security agents are the same type of defenders . . . Besides, in a
case such as mine, under the present circumstances, even were the lawyer outstanding, he can do absolutely nothing. Then what kind of defender and adviser can he be if he is helpless . . .
"So, I once again sincerely ask you, until the end of the trial, never to seek help regarding my case from a lawyer or any other government official, because that would worsen my already difficult situation.
You yourself wrote in a letter that in my absence you have encountered a great deal of deceit: Is it worthwhile then to allow yourself to be deceived further? Go to the legal services division as soon as possible and tell Attorney Kudaba that I categorically refuse a defense attorney and never consult him on my case.
"If you truly wish to help me, go as often as possible to Jesus in the Tabernacle and also to Our Blessed Mother Mary. And there pour everything out, there seek help, advice and protection for yourself and me. There, you will certainly not meet with lies or deceit. . .
"Don't suffer on my account, for I clearly remember what the Prince of Apostles, St. Peter, said: "For what credit is it, if when you do wrong and are beaten for it you take it patiently? But if when you do right and suffer for it you take it patiently, you have God's approval. For to this you have been called . . ."(First Letter of Peter, 20-21).
"With God, it is good everywhere.
"I also want to be alone with my thoughts, in my separate world, and look deeper into that world. Besides, I often remember the life of Blessed Maximilian Kolbe, especially the end of his life, and my suffering seems very small compared to his. "I will walk my road, atoning with suffering for the mistakes of my youth and disregarding what anyone might think or say about me." (Vincas Mykolaitis-Putinas). [Contemporary Lithuanian writer — Transl. Note].
In his letters Vladas Lapienis does not write anything directly about living conditions in the prison isolation facilities. We can only guess at them from the frequent complaints about his failing health. In the November 12, 1976 letter he writes:
"My slacks have begun to tear, but mostly they no longer fit; I don't know whether the waistband has stretched or my stomach has shrunk . . . My heart has faltered several times. At my age it is difficult for it to become accustomed to a new way of life. I don't know whether it will become accustomed and reconciled to this regimen or will completely stop working. Moreover, I often have headaches."
In his December 25th letter he again mentions his health:
"My health has worsened considerably. Ten or fourteen days after my arrest I suffered several mild heart attacks. Later I began having headaches. I often have headaches even now. Also, after being here for some time, I began having increasingly more frequent nosebleeds and now have them almost daily . . . My eyesight is growing weaker. The daylight is very weak and so I am constantly forced to use electric lights which cause my eyes to tire very quickly. During my first weeks here, I used to read and write all day long, but now I can no longer read or write so much. Sometimes, my blood pressure rises suddenly and my head begins to ache. As protection against a stroke, could you bring me lemons or cranberries . . ."
In January, the prisoner again writes:
"I no longer suffer daily nosebleeds and I am not as much frightened by sudden noises. For the second week, I no longer stuff cotton in my ears or wear a winter hat indoors. My head still hurts frequently, and when my blood pressure jumps suddenly, I eat lemons or cranberries and my blood pressure decreases. This is how I protect myself against a stroke. My whole body itches as though from a rash, especially my hands and feet. The itching increases in the afternoon; sometimes my hands and feet feel on fire. When I scratch in my sleep I cause sores which don't heal for a long time. Sometimes tiny red pimples appear on my legs and arms and itch terribly. The doctor said that this is a nervous type allergy and there is nothing she can do. It is true that the nervous system suffers tremendously here."
In February Lapienis' health grew worse, he began to suffer daily nosebleeds, constant roaring sounds in his head, sensitivity to sounds and insomnia: "Some nights I grow tired of waiting for six o'clock, namely, the order to get up . . ."
His health was similar during almost the entire period of interrogation. In a June letter he describes his health thus: "I am quite tired physically, but have gained strength spiritually. I am trying to accept lovingly and gratefully all the hardships and trials from the Lord's divine hands and suffer everything patiently."
Interrogation of Ona Pranskunaitė
The interrogators showed Ona Pranskunaitė the transcripts of the interrogations of J.(onas) (John) Matulionis and Patrubavicius and ordered her to follow their example and testify, but she refused to give any testimony.
During the first two months, (Miss) Pranskunaitė was held in a cell with a female criminal from Klaipėda charged under article 68 of the Criminal Code. The following two months, she was again held with another female criminal from Kaunas, also charged under art. 68.
The interrogators threatened to have Ona Pranskunaitė confined to a psychiatric hospital. At one point, the interrogations were especially harsh. Miss Pranskunaitė admitted she was guilty of believing in the Constitution, the Helsinki agreements and the article by the administrator of the Archdiocese of Vilnius, (Msgr.) Česlovas Krivaitis entitled "In Our Native Land", about the freedom of Catholics in Lithuania, but the security agents shattered all her illusions. In the words of Miss Pranskunaitė, she learned where hell and the devil are located: namely, in the Vilnius headquarters of the KGB.
During July 20-25, 1977, the Supreme Court of the Lithuanian S.S.R. tried the case of Vladas Lapienis, Jonas Kastytis Matulionis and Ona Pranskunaitė. The date of the trial was scrupulously kept secret, so that most friends of the accused were not aware the trial was being held. There were some who, though aware of the trial, did not dare attend the trial proceedings. After noting that there were hardly any spectators, Security agents allowed everyone to enter the courtroom. Those whom they considered less acceptable were prevented through trickery from attending the trial. For instance, the wife of Vladas Lapienis was listed among the witnesses and was not permitted to attend the beginning of the trial. The trial took place on July 20, 22 and 25. Lapienis had refused the services of a lawyer. The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania does not have information on much of the details of the trial.
The following individuals were called as witnesses: (Mrs) Ruzgienė, (Mr) Aleksis and (Mrs) Lapienienė.
Mrs. Ruzgienė admitted that Lapienis had provided her with a typewriter and that she had made five copies of the Gulag Archipelago which she gave to Lapienis.
Aleksis, formerly a colonel in independent Lithuania, testified regarding the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania that when he had read the first issues, he had thought it was an un-neccesary provocation of the government, but he now felt that if, dictated by his conscience, Lapienis contributed to it, he was worthy of praise.
Lapienis' wife was told by the judge that her husband defamed the Soviet Union by alleging that religious books, prayerbooks and typewriters are confiscated from the faithful. (Mrs) Lapienienė boldly asserted that this was true: "You took books and a typewriter during the search . . . During the search you were brutal . . ." The court did not allow (Mrs) Lapieniene to testify any further.
Jonas Kastytis Matulionis, exhausted from the interrogations, said he regretted having contributed to the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania.
Ona Pranskunaite spoke very little and in a low voice. Those attending the trial only heard her complain of poor health.
Before the final statement of Vladas Lapienis, the court called a recess and allowed the spectators to return to the courtroom only after Lapienis had finished speaking. The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania has managed to obtain the text of the final statement of Vladas Lapienis.
Final Statement of Vladas Lapienis
I abhor injustice, lying, deceit and trickery and also force. Therefore, whenever I see those evils, I cannot in good conscience pass them in silence. However, certain government officials call this fight against evil, this criticism, anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda, an attempt to undermine the Soviet government and the like.
Is it possible that injustice, lying, deceit, trickery and other evils are the foundations of the Soviet government and its strength, that it labels the fight against these evils an attempt to undermine or weaken the Soviet government, and accuses those who struggle against these evils of committing a crime, under article 68 or 199 of the Criminal Code of the Lithuanian SSR.
Only when differences of opinion are allowed to be expressed freely, does truth become clear, mistakes come to light and evils are unmasked; and in order to accomplish this, errors must be pointed out, notwithstanding individuals, their positions or their titles. When the root of this evil becomes clear, it can then be eradicated. Not a single decent man, aware of this evil, has the right to refrain from pointing it out, from bringing it into the light of day. Sooner or later those who ignore criticism will be crushed. Criticism, though extremely unpleasant and painful to some at the time, can nevertheless be a friendly assistance to those in error.
Is it not evil that brings so much misfortune, unnecessary hardship and meaningless suffering? I fail to understand why certain Security employees and other government officials fear the truth. Must not truth be the foundation of government? Those who are consumed by hatred and revenge and built this case because I pointed out their errors in my statements, because I brought attention to existing evils, are unjust. Citizens who tell the truth in a straightforward manner should be respected and not punished, and those who, wishing to gain favor with the government, hide errors from it, should be feared because those errors profit no one and bring no honor.
When those evils are brought into the light of day, and mistakes are pointed out, there arises the opportunity to eradicate all those evils from their very foundations. We have the duty to fearlessly bring all injustice to light, regardless of being called fanatic, anti-Soviet or other. The word of truth, though extremely unpleasant and painful to some at the time and though it causes suffering to the one who uttered it, is nonetheless essentially a brotherly assistance to others.
During questioning, my interrogators more than once asked me why I see nothing but evil in Soviet life? That is not true. I expose evil not because I see no good, but because evil brings hardship, misfortune and suffering to people. Therefore, if we wish to attain a better life, we must fight against it. Of course, it is much more pleasant to rejoice at victories attained and the government will praise and perhaps even reward such action. But to expose mistakes and injustice, to criticize certain government officials and "disturb their peace," requires sacrifice, risk and at times causes loss of freedom for a time.
Lenin has said: "Only after we bring down and permanently conquer the bourgeoisie throughout the world, will wars become impossible" (Writings, v. 28, p. 68). You speak about the victory of socialism throughout the world, but you fear an old man in his eighties, who is pointing out the exploitation of the Soviet order by certain government officials. Isn't that odd?
The persecution of believers, repressions, the attempt to solve most problems by forcible means: This is forcing the will of the minority on the majority. A striking example is the ghost of the Stalin cult which still today terrorizes many countries and individuals.
Why do you still refuse to understand the simple truth that force and physical punishment cannot be used to reeducate a grown man and that this punishment will leave scars on men's hearts which will never heal and will never stop aching. Those are wounds inflicted by government representatives on the citizens of their country. By using physical punishment you will simply set them more strongly against the government. This is attested to by psychologists and educators.
When most atheist books, brochures, newspapers and magazines write, (often they attack) God, the Church, the Pope, the religious and believers, but believers are not allowed similar means of defending themselves, there remains only one means of defense, called the "illegal" press by government officials: among them, The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania.
Moreover, the use of such means (to defend your throught in writing) is practically imposed by art. 124 of the USSR Constitution, which recognizes the freedom of anti-religious propaganda for all citizens, but not religious propaganda. Where are equal rights? Lenin dealt with equal rights, namely, with the freedom of conscience, more justly: "The Soviet Constitution recognizes the right of religious and anti-religious propaganda for all citizens." (J. Yeroslavsk, About Religion 1959, p. 27).
But now it is quite true that when art. 124 of the Constitution does not acknowledge the right of religious propaganda, this article actually denies believers basic human rights and forces the community commities outside the law, namely, drives it underground.
I did not contact the publishers of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania in any way and did not submit any of my articles to it. Once a Soviet citizen has written a statement or letter to government agencies and mailed it, he cannot be accused or held responsible if his letter or statement, through channels unknown to him, reaches the so-called "illegal" publication and even at times foreign countries. Isn't it true that much secret USSR information reaches the foreign press or radio airwaves. Then why could not my statements or replies to them, if they were of interest to the publishers of theChronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, reach their hands without my consent?
As regards the "illegality" and "anti-Soviet" nature of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, that charge must be denied in the interest of objective truth. If atheist attacks against the believer community and the illegal actions of certain government officials are considered legal, then the defense of the interests of the believer community against these attacks, the defense of one's own or another's person or rights against dangerous threats against the believer community cannot be considered illegal. Such a defense is not considered a crime by the USSR Criminal Code art. 14 and 15 of the Criminal Code which state that "an action is not criminal which, though it falls under the provisions of criminal law, is committed under conditions of urgent self-defense" or "is committed under conditions of urgent necessity, is not a crime."
I might also add that The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania is illegal only in the sense that Soviet government organs ban the inherently rightful religious press and prevent the faithful from using mass media.
The Constitution assures all citizens freedom of conscience and guarantees the freedom of press and speech. International human rights documents, for instance, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, art. 19 state: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." We therefore clearly see that no law forbids any individual to spread his or her convictions, ideas and information, and to disseminate them in writing or orally. Then what is illegal? What kind of crime is this?
Those who undermine human rights—the rights of the believer community—are committing a crime. Not a single country, not only capitalist, but also socialist (excluding Albania and China) bans the religious press: newspapers, magazines, books. No one forbids the defense of one's ideas and beliefs and their dissemination. Why then is it forbidden here? We can unabashedly state that it is not the faithful who are violating the human rights and freedoms recognized throughout the world—not we, but the atheists, under the cloak of government.
If everyone has equal rights, then why are the faithful not allowed to freely defend their beliefs by means of the mass media? Just as Communists have the right to fight for their beliefs, so the faithful must have the same right. Tell us and explain to us how the faithful can protect themselves against defamatory articles which appear in the press, against distorted facts, against the wrong interpretation of Church teachings? V. Lenin was correct in saying: "Without the freedom of assembly, press and speech all speeches about the freedom of religion will remain a regrettable game and dishonorable lie." ("Self-Government is Tottering" Writings, v. 6, 1951,
Lith. trans). The Soviet press often writes that we have complete religious freedom. If that is truly so, then where is the Catholic press? In what store, at what newsstand can one buy Catholic newspapers, magazines, religious books, prayerbooks, rosaries, religious pictures or cards, crosses, scapulars, candles and other religious necessities?
The indictment charges me with having " . . .written articles and statements containing fabrications smearing the soviet state and social order." I would like to say this regarding this charge: I have never written or submitted any articles. It is true that after the illegal actions of certain security agents, after the November 20, 1973 search and interrogation, I wrote statements: a) on November 30, 1973 to the Chairman of the LSSR Internal Security Committee; b) on January 4, 1974 to the LSSR Attorney General; c) on June 12, 1974 to the USSR Attorney General and the Chairman of the USSR Internal Security Committee; d) on October 15, 1974 to the Chairman of the LSSR Internal Security Committee; e) on April 23, 1976 to Central Party Committee Secretary General L. Brezhnev.
In these statements I detailed how on November 20, 1973 security agents confiscated my typewriter, manuscripts, religious books which had no bearing on the case and most of which were not even listed in either the record of the search or the accompanying report and that they thus violated art. 192 of the LSSR Code of Criminal Procedure; later, during the interrogation, they attempted to obtain evidence through threats, lies, deceit and other illegal actions and did not allow me to defend myself. They thus violated articles 17 and 18 of the same code, and thus committed a crime under art. 187 of the USSR Criminal Code. Through my statements I attempted to secure the return of the confiscated books, handwritten material and typewriter.
A couple of years later, i.e., on July 3, 1975 some of the confiscated books were returned, but the rest were kept and no explanation was given, why they were not returned; the typewriter was not returned either. And only now, after reading all the case documents, did I learn that the remaining books were destroyed as early as 1975. They were burned. Is this respect for the individual and the law?
If security agents whose main duty is to protect socialist justice, do not observe the laws, then how can we expect ordinary citizens to observe them? I noticed that the checkists use a rather old method: they switch the blame from themselves to others (in this case, me).
As for my statements written between 1973 and 1975, I was more than once summoned to Security headquarters and the attorney general's office for questioning, and at the time not one of the interrogators or prosecutors saw any defamatory fabrications in them, debasing the Soviet system and no one made any mention of it (see transcripts of the interrogations), but merely promised to return the handwritten documents and books which had no bearing on the case. If my statements written in 1973 and 1974 contained no defamatory fabrications debasing the Soviet system, then how did these statements, kept in security and prosecutor's files three or more years suddenly become defamatory in 1977? While in the files, their content could not have changed, and the Soviet system also did not change during that time. Can we possibly be returning to the former violations of Soviet justice committed during the Stalin personality cult years which the XXth Party Congress condemned? If not, why was such an absurd accusation concocted?
Regardless of the idea involved, if it is opposed by the government with the use of force, and the supporters of this idea are not only forbidden to disseminate their idea, but are also forbidden to defend themselves, it will then be clear to every sane person that this is fiction and not freedom.
What would the Marxists think if Soviet society were to proclaim to the communist party that the freedom of anti-communist propaganda is guaranteed to all citizens, but Communist propaganda is not recognized? Communist would probably say that this is not freedom, but vile demagoguery. Would Communists rejoice if their ideas were being destroyed before their very eyes and those of society, while they were not allowed to defend themselves? Communists would not only deplore such "freedom," but would condemn it as a mockery of basic human rights and basic freedoms. Then why do Communists offer others such "freedom" which they themselves do not recognize as freedom?
Here are some excerpts from atheist books on religion: Discussions On Religion and Science (Vilnius, 1963): "The goal of the Soviet Union Communist Party is the establishment of a Communist society ... it is not possible to establish a Communist society without overcoming religious superstition" (p. 286). "Communism and religion are not compatible" (p. 212). "Thoughts On Religion" by J. Galitskaya (Vilnius, 1963): "It is impossible to be a religious person and a Soviet individual, a believer and a good citizen; that is, a decent person" (p. 137); "Morals end where religion begins" (p. 140); "The Roman Popes are the greatest charlatans who have ever exploited religion" (p. 157); "The Vicars of
Christ in Rome have for twelve hundred years running committed horrible crimes and disgusting offenses in God's name" (p. 167); "Most scholars supported the philosophy of "three frauds": Moses, Christ and Mohammed" (p. 234). So, you can curse, attack God, the Church and the Pope, condemn religious leaders, believers,
conduct propaganda against any kind of religious, and the party and authorities will even praise you for it. But, God forbid, you utter a single word against the godless and don't attempt to defend yourself against atheist attacks. If yon do, you will wind up behind bars and will be punished for having committed a crime under art. 68 or 199 of the LSSR Criminal Code, i.e., for systematically conducting anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda or for spreading patently false rumors. And this is freedom of conscience!
What kind of freedom of conscience is it when the Constitution lists only the freedom of anti-religious propaganda, when every atheist has the right to invade your conscience, denude it, ridicule it, revile it, even were it the most innocent. That is a mockery of believers, that is shackling the conscience, those are chains, that is a mockery of humanity itself: Every citizen of another country would protest were he to learn of this.
In addition to my duties to the State, I, as a Catholic, have duties to religion and Church, which obligate my conscience. To defend the rights of believers and the Church is not politics, but the holy duty of every Catholic.
When there is no more persecution of believers, there will no longer be anyone to proclaim discontent, shock and resistance, and also there will no longer be any Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania.
Time spent in prison for defending human rights and fundamental freedoms is not wasted, but beautifully works toward spiritual renewal. After the suffering of persecution passes, the martyr always become shining examples, while the persecutors and torturers become the damned.
We, the Catholics of Lithuania, are determined to fight for our faith and true equality, for our rights to be guaranteed not only in words and on paper but in our daily lives.
To be convicted of fulfilling my duties is not only not shameful for me, but honorable. I stand alongside Eternal Truth who said: "Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of justice, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when you are persecuted and suffer slander for My sake." (Mat. 5, 10-12).
We must obey God more than men.
It is amazing that people are arrested, placed in prison, accused of attempting to undermine the Soviet government, of systematically conducting anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda, of anti-Soviet activity, of destroying the Soviet state and social order with defamatory fabrications, but not a single justice department official has attempted to explain to the individual the boundaries which once crossed mark the start of anti-Soviet sentiment and base all this on facts and strict arguments. From the first day of one's arrest, interrogators behave the opposite, completely convinced of the guilt of the accused.
When typewritten or handwritten material without the approbation of "Glavlit" is found during searches, it is not objective proof based on facts to maintain that it is anti-Soviet and defamatory to the Soviet system, but merely a subjective opinion. In order for any document to be weighed objectively, it is necessary to scrupulously examine it and determine how much truth it contains and how much maliciously distorted facts, i.e. intentional lies. And only after thoroughly investigating all this, can this be asserted.
Security agents and certain other government officials either cannot or will not understand the essence of Marxist-Leninist philosophy, but simply stubbornly insist on using the term "anti-Soviet" and use it as a cover and abuse it haphazardly. This term is used in interrogation transcripts, in indictments against the accused, in presenting proof of guilt and in court rulings. Very often and without any grounds, those who think differently are called anti-Soviet activists, characters who hold anti-Soviet views, who defame their country, their fellow - citizens, who are open foes of socialism and the like. Great pains are taken to assure the accused that he has supposedly committed crimes dangerous to the state. Justice department officials do not explain to the accused the crime he is accused of, the circumstances surrounding his crime, whether he has told a deliberate lie, whether this is truly defamatory (a lie that destroys honor) and how much truth and how much lies are contained in that document. They merely rush to charge him with anti-Soviet activity, with defamation. Even while probing the case, they do not avail themselves of all the means provided by law to fully, impartially and objectively investigate the circumstances surrounding the case, as provided by art. 18 of the LSSR Code of Criminal Procedure, but merely present the circumstances most damaging to the accused and do not present the mitigating and justifying circumstances. Once you have fallen into the hands of the security police, then, according to their logic, you are guilty. You must be charged and convicted. An individual who dares write complaints to the prosecutor's office or the party about the mistakes of certain security agents, will of necessity become guilty, wind up behind bars, be sentenced for deliberately committed actions, as provided under art. 68 and 199 of the LSSR Criminal Code. After all Security agents don't "make mistakes." They merely prosecute "the enemies of socialism." The Russian writer F. Dostoevski accurately writes in his Crime and Punishment: "I am first inclined to suspect evil rather than good: An unfortunate trait typical of a cold heart" (p. 131). He writes further: "The inquisitorial mistrust and even suspicion is bitter". (Ibid, p. 143).
During the era of the Stalin personality cult there were mass repression, and evil was suspected before good. It would certainly not be desirable that in Dostoevski's words, inquisitorial mistrust and even suspicion were to flourish in our society. It would not be desirable that the mistakes of the Stalin cult era were to be continued. That would merely worsen the general crisis of socialism, which in the long run would end in catastrophe.
It is a poor achievement for a nation to have its prisons and labor camps overflowing with prisoners. Great good could be achieved for society if the government were to concern itself with justice and not revenge.
On July 25th, the court handed down its ruling. It was read in a low voice and quickly, so that even V. Lapienis who stood close to the bench stated he did not hear or understand everything clearly. Trial spectators in the back of the courtroom were all the more nearly unable to hear the text of the verdict.
V. Lapienis was sentenced to three years in strict regime labor camps and two years in exile; Jonas Kastytis Matulionis, to two years suspended sentence, and Ona Pranskunaitė to two years in a general regime labor camp. V. Lapienis' typewriter and general documentation were confiscated.
We are reprinting what Tiesa (Truth) (August 21, 1977 issue wrote about this trial:
". . . The Jesuit-run Vatican Radio tried especially hard to harm our country, our republic, in some small way. With this purpose in mind, the Vatican Jesuits are determined to make use of any Lithuanian misfit to denigrate Soviet Lithuania and besmirch the achievements of our people. Such misfits, who refuse to march together with all the people, are few, but they still exist. Just recently in Vilnius the open trial of three such slanderers same to an end: a retired Vilnius resident, Vladas Lapienis, artist Kastytis Jonas Matulionis of the Vilnius United Clothing Store and Ona Pranskūnaitė, former employee of the Panevėžys linen manufacturing firm Linas.
They all three produced and disseminated biased and openly defamatory publications(Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania — Ed. note), which presented a distorted view of internal state policies toward the Catholic Church, deceitfully reported on the so-called undermining of the freedom of con-cience and the persecution of believers.
After illegally reaching foreign countries, these publications are used by Lithuanian bourgeois nationalists for foul motives in their fight against the working people's government in Lithuania. The reactionary clerical newspapers Draugas and Darbininkasand Vatican Radio have even more widely circulated fabrications of which I mentioned only a few in this article due to lack of space.
Vladas Lapienis did not arrive at the dock all at once. Taking his advanced age into consideration, investigation agencies many times spoke with him, warned him to cease and desist his criminal activity. However, Lapienis did not wish to walk the straight and narrow path and involved Matulionis in his criminal activity. He further attempted, under the cloak of disstibuting religious literature, to mislead people and spread anti-Soviet slander. His hands have been soiled with many fabrications denigrating the decent people of our republic.
K. J. Matulionis, who has studied linguistics, was used by V. Lapienis to correct the syntax of anti-Soviet defamatory publications. Moreover, K. J. Matulionis himself helped circulate these publications. (Miss) O. Pranskūnaitė, although semi-literate — having attended school only through the fourth grade — typed and duplicated defamatory publications. From her typewriter emerged the rumor about the parents' meeting at the J. Janonis Middle School in Šiauliai, which was not held, slander about the Budėnas family from Marcinkoniai and other fabrications.
At the trial, the spreaders of slander seemed to realize that they were mere tools in the activity of reactionary clericals, that Vatican Radio was primarily responsible for their erring ways, by so malevolendy spreading to the air waves the lies they circulated.
"I will never again take part in the crime I am now accused of. Kastytis Jonas Matulionis said, regretting his imprudent actions.
"I regret having behaved thus. I acted without fully understanding everything. I promise this will not recur in the future," Ona Pranskunaite also repented.
The Soviet court is humane. In view of the fact that K. J. Matulionis understood his errors and promised to refrain from criminal activity, the court handed him only a suspended sentence. K. J. Matulionis is now free and his future depends only on his actions.
"In view of the fact that Miss Ona Pranskunaitė is semi-literate and was drawn into criminal activity, as well as that she repented her imprudent actions at the trial and promised to refrain from such future actions, the court also gave Ona Prans-kunaitė much less severe sentence.
"These imprudent persons who were misled by Vatican Radio will probably repent more than once when they recall their errors. This is a good opportunity to note that Vatican Radio and other Western propaganda centers have recently expanded their web of imperialist propaganda even more. Hiding behind the mask of benefactors, they are seeking donations by spreading various fabrications, rumors. Their attempts will be in vain if we all remain vigilant."
Excerpts from the Diary of a Trial Spectator July 25, 1977
Today is the third day of the trial. After long tormenting interrogations, they probably expected to see sympathetic persons in the courtroom, feel their glance, know that in this hour of need someone was ardently praying to the Lord for them. Unfortunately, the first two days a terrifying void stared back at them. Only an occasional friend, having belatedly learned of the trial date and sitting at the back of the room, a group of security police, like barbed wire: These were the trial spectators.
Lord, you have required of them the most painful sacrifice: great suffering and abandonment by those close to them. It would seem that the security police can rejoice at their clever move of choosing a trial date when most people are on vacation. Do not rejoice! The suffering of those on trial will call forth a new wave of yearning for the truth in the hearts of the young!
We are already in the courtroom. This time there is even a small group of us. The chairs in the first row are so closely packed together that no one will dare sit in them. Well, we occupied two rows further down. We thought we would be able to see and hear everything. Our joy was shortlived; a band of soldiers approached and we were roughly ordered to move to back rows. So what do you fear, comrade security agents? Our united front? Fear it! We feel strong even when thousands of miles and prison walls separate us, so two rows of chairs... a mere trifle!
Finally the court and the accused, guarded by soldiers, entered the room. Pale faces and faltering steps attested to the broken health of those on trial.
(Miss) Onutė Pranskunaitė was allowed to make a final statement. How we yearned to hear that beloved voice, her final statement. Unfortunately, we heard not a single sentence clearly.
What next? The court called a recess until 3:00 P.M. Our faces fell when we heard this news. What should we do now; it was still only 10:30 A.M. We would wait and will not leave the courtroom. And perhaps this is a security police trick? "About 3:00 P.M.". More likely it could be around 12 noon or 1:00 P.M.
Unfortunately, our wishes were once again not fulfilled; the secretary "politely" asked us to leave the courtroom. We tried to resist; the secretary did not have a gun and could not shoot us. The poor young girl said in a nervous voice: "Please leave, because sometimes those who remain in the courtroom cut off our microphones." We left, not so much out of obedience, but out of compassion for the poor secretary... How interesting: "Cut off their microphones!"
We formed a tight group, chatted, prayed and constantly glanced toward the courtroom. The security police kept their eyes and probably their ears on us, but of what importance are they (our poor brothers) if Truth is on our side!
Finally 3:00 P.M. came. We all flocked into the courtroom.
We took our places and it seemed that they would be unable to move us from the courtroom even with a tractor, even if the court were to reconvene around 8:00 P.M. But they had no need of a tractor. The rough voice of a Security policeman ordered "Would everyone please leave the courtroom," proved more powerful than technology. With our heads bowed we left without understanding the reason for our ouster. Could it possibly again be because of the microphones. . ?"
What luck! At 3:30 the doors opened wide inviting us in. One young man was about to bring in a bouquet of flowers. Leave the flowers," sharply yelled a security policeman.
"I'm going to a birthday party," softly protested the youth.
"I told you to leave them. Flowers don't belong here!" the Security policeman retorted as with a knife.
Flowers don't belong here. And where do they belong? A child gives him mother a flower for her scrifice and love, the graves of heroes are covered with flowers because they gave their lives for their country's freedom, but believers who have sacrificed their lives to reveal the truth are not allowed to accept a small lowly flower from their friends. They don't belong here . . . Oh, my brothers, may your suffering blossom into miraculous flowers in eternity. That is the proper place to bestow the most spectacular flowers on you.
Only now did we understand why we had been ousted from the courtroom. The accused and the soldiers were already at the dock. Why, our suffering brethren were denied the chance to glance at their friends. They stood with their backs to us and were prodded by soldiers if anyone attempted to look back. Oh my dear brethren, our glances did not meet, but you will bolster us with your spiritual strength, and we will continue to look to the Almighty to grant you strength in your heroic suffering.
The decision of the court is read. We all stand and listen. "Slanderous literature ... for distributing and duplicating slanderous literature, for writing statements . . ." The sentence: three years, two years . . . The sentence has been read. We have to leave the courtroom. It seemed as though our legs are paralyzed. We stood like sticks in our places and did not seem to hear the soldier's rough order to leave. We wanted to look into the faces of the convicted, breathe that air of suffering and debasement which our brethren had breathed such a long time.
Finally, unwillingly, as if in doubt, we filed out one by one. We did not want to share our thoughts, our mood was as at the funeral of a loved one. After standing outside the Supreme Court room for a while, stunned by events and preassure, we left the Supreme Court building and went to Aušros Vartai (Gates of Dawn) to place on the altar one more offence against TRUTH.