Irina Ratushinskaya (Tried for Religious Poetry)

My despised Country, What is more shameful than your nights... When did you lack unnatural children, Executioners and slaves even more!

How you trampled those trusting you,

How you murdered in blind zeal

Those who knew not how to betray themselves or others,

Those condemned to love You...

No, I do not blame the terrorized — Silent, your flocks of nightingales Why are your trampeled teardrops Crystallizing on the crosses?

As in my dream of your crucified people, In their footsteps I must soon Go out to die

For you, my damned, my beloved.

Along that road, of all the most terrible -Of hatred - the border of love Despised and outraged — Bless me, Stepmother and Mother!


Father Sigitas Tamkevičius writes:

"I'm writing my first letter from Mordovia. As you see, the 'prophecies' have not been fulfilled. I arrived in Barashev April 10, so I did not celebrate Easter on wheels. I travelled from Vilnius to camp by train, just as on former occasions. The third time, I had the opportunity not only to become tired, but also to see much and think about much. Thank God for everything, but espe­cially for the external incarceration which teaches me to value all the more my internal freedom.

"Upon my arrival, I began learning the tailor's trade, but I soon re-clas­sified myself as a launderer. I have tried many professions in my life. In the army, I worked as a construction hand, a carpenter, a metal worker, a projec­tionist, a librarian, in 1969 as a land reclaimer and a punch-press operator. Late­ly, I have tried my talents in wielding a broom, a soup ladle and now, a washing machine, iron, etc., besides my twenty-five years in the Vineyard of Christ.

"I am convinced that everywhere and at all times, it is possible to live a full life and to be useful to others. If the Lord has sent me to labor camp, we are to understand that my life here is more necessary for the Church than my freedom. I have the opportunity to offer something to God, the possibility of setting my ideals higher than all other values. I do not regret returning; I could not do otherwise. External freedom which people treasure so highly is not the greatest value. The value of interior freedom is greater, and this freedom no one can take away; one can only lose it oneself by not living according to one's conscience.

"On April 18,1 commemorated the silver jubilee of my priesthood. I thank God who has given me so very much. The priesthood has drawn me close to the Lord, and given me the possibility of serving the people; the priesthood gave me many noble people, the memory of whom sustains me even here, far from my homeland. All that I have accomplished and given others during twen­ty-five years of priesthood is very little compared to what I have received from others. I do not know how long or in what conditions God will allow me to work, but I would like that time to be marked by holiness and sacrifice. It seems to me that in today's world, the spoken word is badly devalued and the hearts of people can be reached by the language of sacrifice.

"I ask you and all with whom the priesthood brought me into contact to pray that the Lord would bless the road before me. Pentecost is coming. I wish everyone ample gifts of the Holy Spirit."

May, 1987


From the letters of Father Jonas-Kastytis Matulionis:

"...I am grateful for the light of my native language. From the homeland they write in Lithuanian, and I receive some of the letters. Your letter had been forwarded to the hospital in Chita, where they had taken me without my con­sent. Before that, they had said that there was not much more time to serve, and that it was unnecessary to travel. Afterwards, I bothered someone and they sent me (from March 9 to April 22). Only God knows what they were thinking of and why they sent me.... I thought that I would not be returning, not only to my homeland, but to camp; my health was in critical condition in the hospital. I sub­mitted myself to the will of God....

"Life in camp is the same old routine, well known to you. Life here is difficult and dreary. You can imagine how dear to me are the travelling letters when they finally reach me. Although there are only 180 km. from camp to Chita, a three hour journey, the letters took more than a month for the round-trip...

"Today they summoned me to pick up a package sent from France, something which is always a novelty and a surprise. At the same time, I asked the censor for the holy cards. She replied, 'We're not going to give them to you. You can get them back only when you leave. Those are the orders of the ad­ministration.'

"It is strange that the museums are full of little religious pictures. In the bookshops, one can find postcards with a religious theme, but I am forbidden to have any. So this is perestroika! Under such conditions there is no sense send­ing holy cards. You, too... experienced more than once how good it is to have nothing. To be wealthy with God, everywhere and always my thanks and obedience to the Lord! The carrying out of His will is no longer an obligation. Let there be no limits to obedience...

"In a few days, in Rome, the holiness of Archbishop Jurgis Matulaitis will be proclaimed to the world. Lithuania will celebrate the jubilee of its bap­tism. During the feastdays and celebrations, I will be in spirit with everyone. In the Siberian silence, I will pray, offer and sing: 'Holy God, We Praise Your Name', 'God is Our Refuge and Our Strength', 'Marija, Marija!' Those hymns never rang out in the Siberian Trans-baikal. I thank the Lord for sending me to this corner of the earth to praise and thank him, to ask his forgiveness and to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which has never been offered here before."


May-June, 1987


On April 7, 1987, Viktoras Petkus was transferred by court order to the strict regime zone, and since that time, even though by law he had the right to send two letters a month, it was May 28 before he wrote. In a short letter writ­ten in Russian (so that the censors would not hold it up), Petkus wrote, "I have only just today collected my thoughts somewhat..."

From the context, and the experience of other prisoners, it appears that Petkus was drugged.

Gintautas Iešmantas writes:

"... My life goes on now at an accustomed pace. Nothing in it essential­ly changes except that in February - you probably heard about it - I wrote let­ters to the U.S.S.R. and L.S.S.R. Supreme Soviets. In them, I wanted to explain why I had refused to write a statement obliging myself in the future not to break the law. Besides, in my letter to the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian S.S.R., which was quite far-ranging and in-depth, my purpose was to remind everyone who claims to be struggling for restructuring about me. I thought to myself, 'Let them know that I also have an opinion on this subject, and I still exist; untruth and injustice have not broken me, etc.' Hence, I never expected to receive replies to those letters.

"And yet, the replies came. True, it was not the addressees who replied, but the appropriate prosecutors' offices. They dotted every i, as the saying goes. I think it's interesting to see what those replies were like, so I present them here, one after the other.

"First of all, the letter from the U.S.S.R. Prosecutor's Office:

'"In connection with your letter of February 1,1987, received from the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., I wish to inform you that the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. considers the question of am­nesty, of persons sentenced for anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda, only upon petition by those under sentence, requesting clemency. Division Chief Prosecutor J.E. Ovtsarov.'

"So all those innocent petitions for release, obliging oneself not to break the law, are treated by higher instances as requests for clemency. Other­wise, political prisoners are not released. Of course, there is no rule without an exception... This is how mercy appears when its robe of deceit is removed!

"And what do 'Lithuanian' officials say?

'"I wish to inform you that your letter of February 19,1987, addressed to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian S.S.R., has been received by the Republic Prosecutor's Office and I have looked it over. The ar­guments set forth in the letter do not correspond to the facts and evidence in the case and provide no juridical basis to take steps to release you from carryr ing out the rest of your sentence, handed down by the court, December 8,1980. Hence your letter is left without results. A. A. Novikov, Prosecutor of the Lithuanian S.S.R.'

"No comment is necessary, as they say, in such cases. Unless we could add that the reply itself uncovers an old way of thinking which reeks of moth­balls and contradicts even in its style, the spirit of restructuring. But what can you expect of the Novikovs? They are the obvious fruits of Griškevičius' 'national' policy. Did you read his report to the Plenary Session of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Lithuania (Tiesa, March 14)? If not, read it. There is revealed the true essence of the internationalization of societal life. In the papers, they also talk about the enemies of restructuring. Television com­mentator Bovin calls them 'conservatives'; others call them 'bureacrats'; Vanagas in Literatūra ir menas (Literature and Art) calls them generally fedka.

"As we see, the greatest obstacle is not from the fedka; it is the specific high officials and agencies. But I have gotten off the subject. I wanted simply to inform you but I became involved in undesirable heavy thinking. Our lords might become angry.

"Here it is also coming on to spring. A south wind is blowing, and today the thaw set in, apparently signalling the beginning of spring. True, the whole of March was beautiful, sunny and windless. By day, the sun which is very warm here, began ever so slightly in the very heat of the sun, to melt the snow. The song of the titmouse has begun. What will this spring produce? So far, I hope for nothing!

"As the replies of the prosecutors' offices show, there is nothing to hope for. But why talk about it? After all, we are not living so that we might hope for anything, expecting favors is foreign to us. This is why we are walking such a way of thorns. It is hard, but good, when you know that you are living honest­ly. Then it is always spring in your heart and soul..

March 29,1987

Balys Gajauskas' address in exile: 682460

Chabarovskij kraij

T. Chumikan r-on

P. Chumikan, ul. Sovietskaya-4

Balys Gajauskas