The defense speech and final statement of Vladas Lapienis, spoken in the Supreme Court of the LSSR, March 28, 1985:
"Freedom of conscience is guaranteed by Par. 52 of the LSSR Constitution, while Soviet law explains that freedom of conscience in the wide sense is the ability for each person to act according to their beliefs, according to their conscience." (J. Aničas and J. Rimutis, Soviet Laws Regarding Religious Cults and Freedom of Conscience, 1970, p. 3).
Similarly, Par. 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights explains: "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."
Par. 49 of the USSR Constitution: "It is forbidden to persecute anyone for criticizing," while Par. 57 proclaims that, "To honor citizens' property and to safeguard their rights is the duty of all government organizations and officials." The Constitution, after all, possesses the highest power, so no laws can contradict it.
In my work, I was guided by Natural Law, by the Constitution of the country, especially Par. 34, 39, 50, 52, and other Soviet laws, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and especially Par. 2, 19, 28, 30, international covenants regarding civil rights, and other documents concerning human rights and basic freedoms.
The explanation by some government officials who disregard the persons or the dignity of their country's citizens, and fail to protect their rights, saying that they do so in the name of the law, is similar to the explanation given, when during the era of the Stalin personality cult, thousands of innocent people were put behind bars and barbed wire, or sent into exile. Only after Stalin had died did they admit that most of these people had been unjustly sentenced, and they were rehabilitated. Those activities said to be "in the name of the law," the Twentieth Century has firmly condemned, calling them crass infractions of socialist justice.
On the Presidium of the Central Committee were people who themselves were guilty of taking advantage of their government position to carry out mass repressions... Thousands of completely innocent people, government and military activists, perished. ( Procedings of XX Congress of the Soviet Union Communist Party, Vilnius, 1962, p.220.)
The indictment dated February 28, 1985 states: "Seeking to weaken the Soviet government, he (Lapienis) produced, distributed and kept for purposes of distribution literature libeling the Soviet government and the public order."
From 1981 to 1985, he wrote and reproduced for distribution a work Mbelously anti-Soviet in content called Memoirs of a Soviet Prisoner.
At the end of 1983, he began typing a 314 page work entitled Memoirs of a Soviet Prisoner.
On February 13, 1983, he was detained in the City of Vilnius, carrying a 314 page manuscript of the above-named work.
From February 1984 until 1985, he wrote a newly expanded version of his "memoirs", and typed at least two copies of 144 pages each (sic).
On January 4, 1985, at the time of his arrest in Kaunas, in the apartment of tenant Miss Ona Dranginyte (TSRS 50-Cio prosp., 16-92), he was writing more of his "memoirs".
In this work, Lapienis libels the Soviet order and its organs, derides the Soviet system of justice, treats the principles of Soviet democracy in a distorted fashion, writes about so-called religious persecution in the Soviet Union, extol Is Soviet criminals (Fathers Alfonsas Svarinskas, Sigitas Tamkevičius) and urges others to follow their example.
On February 13, 1984, he was carrying, for the purposes of distribution, the Chroncle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, Nos. 57, 58, 59 and 60; Lietuvos Ateitis (Lithuania's Future) No. 6, he had manuscripts of The Cog-Wheels of the Gulag Are Crushing AT (Antanas Terleckas? -- Trans. Note), Typescripts of The Belgrade Conference, Problems of the Lithuanian Nation's Moral Culture, and Father D. Dudko, Concerning His Statement ...
Concerning the accusations made in this indictment, the following must be said: Memoirs of a Soviet Prisoner tells my own experiences during the time of my imprisonment (1976-1981), by which no attempt is made to weaken the Soviet government, with no anti-Soviet purpose and not from a desire to denigrate our life; on the contrary, to promote progress, since the memoirs consist of information to state and party institutions, whose duty it is to do away with short-comings, among them those indicated in the memoirs.
Even though my most important accusers during the investigation were Chief Investigator Vytautas Pilelis of the KGB, and some other KGB agents, you call my memoir libelous and anti-Soviet, but that does not decrease in the least their value as a source of information. The whole trouble is that this information is not encouraging, and evokes painful realities. However, the purpose of this information is to help our people to overcome the evil infiltrating our midst, so the memoirs cannot be used against me as evidence.
"In the area of human rights and basic freedoms, participating governments will act in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They wi11 also carry out their obligations as these are set forth in international declarations and covenants in this area, and in agreements on human rights," proclaims the Final Act signed in Helsinki in 1975. If the states act in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights whose 19th paragraph confers the right on each person to maintain his beliefs and to express them freely without interference, and also grants the right to every person to seek, receive and disseminate information and ideas by whatever means, regardless of national boundaries.
All writings taken from me are information, thus in my activities, there is no crime. After all, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is not stated that the right is granted to seek, to receive and to disseminate only Soviet or anti-Soviet information, but information in general. That means it is completely irrelevant what you call it.
Par. 30 of this Declaration proclaims: "Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein."
Par. 11 of this Declaration proclaims: "No one shall be held guilty of any penal offense on account of any act of omission which did not constitute a penal offence..."
Since my activities in accord with international law (specifically according to Par. 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights) was not considered a crime, and international agreements take precedence over Soviet law (for this is proclaimed in the Procedings of the Supreme Soviet, 1978, No. 99, Par. 816), therefore my accusers holding me criminally responsible transgress against Par. 1-3, 11,12,17,19,28 and 30 of the Declaration, Par. 2,5,14,18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Section 7 of the Final Act of the Conference on European Security and Cooperation which took place in Helsinki.
I repeat that in my work, I was guided by Natural Law, the Constitution of the land, promulgated Soviet law, international agreements on human rights, including freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief; and not by the demands concocted by some officials who, transgressing against justice themselves, are in error and lead others into error. Among the bases of peace is respect for inviolable human rights, for peace is justice and war arises from an infringement of those rights. And if human rights are violated in peace time, and -- from the viewpoint of progress -- an incomprehensible manifestation of war with mankind, which is impossible to reconcile with any program claiming to be "humane". Not unless we say that one who struggles against God cannot be at peace with humankind.
Truth can be clarified only by man himself, and only in freedom. So any physical or moral pressure distorts the battle of ideas in the first place. Every violation of conscience is a brutal mockery of the human being, by which only consent to external force is attained, and not an internal winning over a person to truth. In place of winning over a person to truth, we only instill in him hatred for ourselves and for the idea we are forcing upon him.
The experience of history clearly shows what an unfortunate temptation it was to use force "in the service of truth". To use force in the war of ideas, is not to serve truth, but to demean it. After all, the rights of government depend on nothing, if not respect for objective and inviolable human rights. The common good which the government serves in a state is fully realized only when alI citizens can be certain of their rights. Without this, we arrive at a collapse of society and anarchy, or to a situation in which oppression, threats, force and terror are employed. Proof enough of this has been given by the dictatorships and totalitarianisms of our age.
Just as air, food and water are necessities of life for a normal human being -- a believer or atheist -- so are freedom of speech and of the press necessary for all citizens.
On April 30, 1984, in Vilnius, I met a lawyer, an old acquaintance of mine, who has worked in a responsible position in the organs of law enforcement. I told him that on February 13, 1983, the KGB had confiscated my reminiscences-memoirs (a rough draft) of the period of my imprisonment, and had opened a case against me on that basis. The investigative organs stated that I had committed a crime, provided for in the LSSR Criminal Code, Par. 68, 2d.
He asked me, "Perhaps you criticized officials of the government in your memoirs or mentioned them negatively?"
I replied that at the end of 1976 and the first half of 1977, I was interrogated by KGB Chief Interrogator, Major Urbonas and Chief of the Division of KGB interrogation, Major Rimkus, so I did criticize them, Prosecutor Bakučionis and some others, in my memoirs. My friend the lawyer thought a moment, and said, "Urbonas has been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and appointed as head of a KGB section, so he can revenge himself on you for your criticism, and no defenders, no explanations of yours will do you any good..."
If justice is overcome by wrath, hatred or even vengeance, then the basic motive for action will become the desire, if not to destroy me, at least to curtail my freedom or to force upon me beliefs which, in essence, are contrary to a free life. The only thing left is to say with the leader of the Indian nation, Ghandhi, who was in prison eight years, "Force convinces no one, but only begets hatred. If I am innocent and yet accused, imprisonment to me is not shameful."
As a matter of fact, time spent behind bars or barbed wire for the truth is not lost, but most beautifully serves spiritual rebirth. Although prison and labor camp isolate the Christian from society, nevertheless zealous Catholics, even when they are prisoners, engage in the apostolate and win souls for Chr ist.
Freedom lost for the truth, for one's beliefs, for refusal to offend against truth, troubles experienced, suffering undergone, will be the most impressive example for others. Giving up all that is the best on earth spreads more of the fragrance of grace in the Living Church and in souls than does the blooming (life, works) of natural gifts for all the world to see, while living in freedom.
To be sentenced for writing my memoirs as a prisoner (1976-1981), for reading the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, Lithuania's Future, J. Girnius' book Man Without God (which the chekists seized from me and destroyed as ideologically damaging), and others is for me not only free of shame, but honorable. For then, I as a Catholic, having done my duty conscientiously, take my stand alongside Eternal Truth, which says: "Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right: Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you, and speak all kinds of calumny against you on My account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven..." (Mat 5,10-12)
It is an honor to walk the hard road of the Gulag for the Church, for one's nation, for human rights and basic freedom and justice.
These sacrifices are not in vain. They are the seed of future freedom falling on a land sprinkled with the blood and watered with the tears of our fathers and forefathers.
After all, the greatest mission is to suffer with the suffering, "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends," says Christ to us (John 5, 19). Hence, we are obliged to value faithfulness to God more than treasure, freedom or even life.
" Omnia vincit Veritas! - Truth overcomes all!"
Copy of Criminal Case No. 8-2
In the name of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Lithuania March 28, 1985 Vilnius
The College of Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court of the Lithuanian SSR, consisting of presiding member of the court J. Riepšas, public advisors Mrs. A. Grigalavičienė and A. Gudalevičius, with Mrs. S. Brusokienė as secretary, and Prosecutor J. Morauskas participating, thoroughly considered in open court session the criminal case in which Vladas Lapienis, son of Antanas, born June 6, 1906 in the City of Daugpilis, Latvian SSR, citizen of the USSR, Lithuanian, residing in Vilnius, at Gelvonig 27-7, a pensioner, sentenced July 25, 1977, in accord with the LSSR Criminal Code, Par. 68, Id, to 3 years deprivation of freedom with 2 years of exile, completed his prison sentence October 20, 1979, and exile June, 1981, married, highly educated, was accused in accordance wi th the Lithuanian SSR Criminal Code, Par. 68 lid. The judicial college, having considered the case, decided:
The accused V. Lapienis, between 1981 and January of this year (1985), seeking to weaken the Soviet government, prepared, disseminated and kept for purposes of dissemination, literature containing libelous inventions demeaning the Soviet system of government and society.
During this time he wrote and reproduced for distribution, Memoirs of a Soviet Prisoner. He typed them in an outbuilding belonging to J. Puodžiukas located on the property designated as Riešutas, and in the apartment of Miss 0. Dranginytė in the City of Kaunas.
In the aforesaid house and apartment of J. Puodžiukas, he kept illegal publications: the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, Nos. 10, 38, 46; "ne Chronicle of Current Events, No. 36; Socialism; Personality and National Consciousness; Separation and Reunion; Contemporary Societies; Economic Systems and their Perspectives.
In typescript, an open letter by Raisa Dort to the editors of the newspaper Trud, an open letter to Leonid Pluisch, the book The Lithuanian Archives, I (Vol. 6), the brochure entitled, "Archbishop Mečislovas Reinys" and Problems of the Lithuanian Character by J. Girnius.
He gave them to Puodžiukas to read.
In the Ci ty of Vilnius, he carrried around with him and kept in his possession the illegal publications, the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, Nos. 57, 58, 59 and 60; Lithuania's Future, 6 issues; the manuscripts Cog-Wheels of the Gulag Are Crushing AT; The Belgrade Conference, typescripts: "Problems of the Lithuanian Nation's Moral Culture," "Father D. Dudko, Concerning His Statement".
Besides, Lapienis kept at his home manuscripts beginning with the words, "According to the Soviet Constitution, everyone ...", "...however, these statements are confirmed..." , "I am guarding that book", "You cannot break fighters by terror tactics", "Daumantai - 10" and a homemade little brochure, "The Crossroads of My Life".
In the City of Kaunas, he carried about with him the illegal publications the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, No. 62 and 63, Lithuanian's Future, No. 8, and the Dawn ( Aušra, ) No. 42.
In all these works, the Soviet state and society are libeled, the principles of Soviet democracy are treated in a distorted fashion, Marxist- Leninist ideology is criticized, and USSR policy in the area of rel igion is calumniated.
Lapienis does not admit his guilt. He admits the facts that he wrote Memoirs of a Soviet Prisoner, that he carried around with him in Vilnius and Kaunas and kept at home the above-mentioned illegal literature, also that the illegal literature found in Puodžiukas' little house, except for the book, Lithuanian Archives, Vol I(6), the pamphlet "Archbishop Mečislovas Reinys", The Problems of the Lithuanian Character, could be his.
The latter publications are not his, and he never gave them to Puodžiukas to read. However, he kept this literature not for dissemination but for reference. The Memoirs of a Soviet Prisoner, he wanted to hand over to the appropriate party in the Soviet organs, in an attempt to do away wi th problems.
Lapienis' guilt is established by the following proofs: On February 13, 1984, during the detention of Vladas Lapienis, in the course of the search of Puodžiukas' garden house, and in the course of apprehending Lapienis January 4, 1985, in the apartment of Miss O. Dranginytė in Kaunas, were found and removed Memoirs of a Soviet Prisoner, manuscripts, typewr i ters and paper.
Handwriting experts determined that the manuscripts were written by Lapienis. Technical analysis of documents showed that the typescripts of the Memoirs were produced on typewriters in Puodžiukas' garden house and Dranginytė's apartment.
As mentioned above, Lapienis himself admitted writing and reproducing Memoirs of a Soviet Prisoner. The fact that these memoirs were written for the purpose of disseminating them is shown by their contents, in which he addresses prospective readers, "Forgive me, if I did not see everything, did not remember everything...", etc. The purpose of dissemination is demonstrated also by the fact that they were reproduced in several copies. Lapienis' explanation that he had intended to send these memoirs to Soviet and party organs is unfounded. Such is not the purpose shown by the contents of this work.
The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, Lithuania's Future and other illegal publications aforementioned were found on the occasion of Lapienis' detention in Vilnius and Kaunas. Handwriting experts have determined that the manuscripts titled The Cog-Wheels of the Gulag Are Crushing AT and For the Belgrade Conference, found during searches of Puodžiukas' garden house, his apartment and Miss Dranginytė's apartment February 13, 1984, were written by Lapienis.
The large quantity of illegal literature, its scope, the existence of various works in several copies and the copying of these publications show that Lapienis kept all these works for purposes of dissemination.
It has likewise been proven that Lapienis kept The Archives of Lithuania, "Archbishop Mečislovas Reinys" and The Problem of the Lithuanian Character. These works were found during the search in Puodžiukas' apartment. Puodžiukas clearly showed that these publications were brought to his garden house by Lapienis, who said, "If you have time, you can read them."
He took these books home and read Problems of the Lithuanian Character. In his testimony, there are contradictions about the date of the permission to read, explained by his age and the length of time since the occurance. Giving Puodžiukas The Problem of the Lithuanian Character to read, the accused was disseminating this work. The other two works he also kept for purposes of dissemination, since he gave them to Puodžiukas to read.
It has been established that in all the works, there are libelous invent ions demeaning the Soviet governmental and social system. For instance, in Memoirs of a Soviet Prisoner, it states that, "Soviet citizens are not allowed to use the rights granted them... Those rights exist only on paper, but not in fact."
In The Crossroads of My Life, we read that "Let the Party not imagine that the ideology which brought our land so many misfortunes will push the Catholic Church out of life... "
There are similar statements in the other works, also.
The attempt to weaken the Soviet government by such actions is shown by the fact that Lapienis produced, kept and disseminated for a long time, several years, literature containing libelous inventions demeaning the
Soviet political and public system, the large amount of such literature, and finally, the contents of these works.
Hence, Lapienis, by producing, disseminating and keeping for purposes of disséminât ion works containing libelous inventions demeaning the Soviet political and social system, thereby seeking to weaken the Soviet government, has committed a crime provided for by LSSR Criminal Code, Par. 68. Since he is subject to trial for an especially dangerous state crime, his criminal activity is rightly classified according to the Lithuanian SSR Criminal Code, Par. 68, Part 2.
The College, in sentencing Lapienis, is cognizant of the fact that he has earlier been sentenced for a similar offense and having served his sentence, has not learned his lesson and continues the same criminal activity. However, cognizance is also taken of his old age and the condition of his health (he suffers from ateriosclerosis).
The penalty of imprisonment is to be carried out in a strict regime corrective labor camp. Moreover, a supplementary penalty of exile is assigned since a grave, especially dangerous state crime has been committed. The Judicial College, guided by Par. 331-333 of the Lithuanian SSR Code of Criminal Procedings, has decided:
To find Lapienis, Vladas, son of Antanas, guilty of having committed the crime provided for in Par. 68, lid of the Lithuanian SSR Criminal Code, to sentence him to four years deprivation of freedom and to give Lapienis the supplementary sentence of exile for two years.
Vladas Lapienis to serve his sentence of imprisonment in a strict regime corrective labor camp, the beginning of serving of sentence is to be calculated from January 4, 1985; however, his detention from February 13-28, 1984, is to be credited toward sentence.
The exhibit, consisting of the Unis typewriter is to be confiscated, and other evidence is to be kept with the bill.
This verdict is final, without recourse or protest.
(signed) J. Riepšas, Chairing
(also signed) A. Gr igalavičienê, A. Gudalevičius - Public Advisor
P.S. This is a true copy: Member of the Court, J. Riepšas.