CHRONICLE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN LITHUANIA No. 21
In this issue:
Continuing Persecution of Youth
Lithuania January 25, 1976
During December 9-12, 1975 the LSSR Supreme Court tried the case of S.A. Kovalev.
President of the court panel: LSSR Supreme Court member M. Ignotas. Peoples judges: (Mrs.) Didžiulienė and Tereshin. Secretary: (Mrs) Savinienė. State prosecutor: Assistant Attorney General Bakučionis. The defense attorney was appointed by the court.
Kovalev is charged with violating article 70 of the USSR Criminal Code: he is alleged to have been a member of the organizing group for the defense of human rights and to have written (since 1969) many statements and inquiries: a letter in defense of Grigorenko (1969),
a statement marking the first anniversary of the occupation of Czechoslovakia (1969), in defense of Bukovsky (1971), concerning Yakir and Krasin (1973), an inquiry about the exile of Solzhenitsyn (1974), a letter to the U.N. regarding the Crimean Tartars (1974), a letter to the League for Human Rights concerning Bukovsky (1974). Kovalev is also charged, with transmitting information on Soviet labor camps to the West at the "political prisoners' day" (10/30/74) press conference in Sakharov's apartment. The indictment labels this information "defamatory."
To: The Council of Ministers of the LSSR
Copies to: The LSSR Commissioner for Religious Affairs All Lithuanian Diocesan Curias His Excellence Bishop V. Sladkevičius His Excellency Bishop J. Steponavičius
A Statement from: The priests of the Vilnius Archdiocese
From the very beginning, from the time of the Apostles, the life of the Catholic Church has been under the leadership of bishops with the Pope at the head. The Second Vatican Council greatly clarified the role of bishops, as descendants of the Apostles, as authoritative teachers, consecrators and rulers. Throughout the world, including the newest developing African countries, dioceses are administered by bishops appointed by the Holy See. Only for brief periods, from one bishop's death or resignation to the appointment of the next one, temporary administrators are named without all the powers of a bishop. The dioceses of Lithuania have normally been ruled by bishops. Only in the 19th century, when the tsarist regime determined to weaken or even to destroy the Catholic faith in Lithuania, were the dioceses of Vilnius and Žemaičiai left for a longer time without a bishop.
The priests of the Vilnius Archdiocese, our faithful, as well as all Catholics in Lithuania, are distressed that for close to fifteen years, since the beginning of 1961, Vilnius has not had a Catholic bishop. Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius, who was appointed by the Holy See, has been exiled to far-off Žagarė by order of the state government and is not allowed to perform his duties.
To: The Chairman of the USSR Security Committee, I.V. Andropov
On December 23, 1974 five chekists and two activists of the Communist Youth League came to "wish me a Merry Christmas." In lieu of a Christmas present, they brought a search warrant. In a sense, this is an anniversary, for exactly 30 years ago my parents' home was searched for the first time (Krisvasalis Village, Ignalina Rayon).
During 1944-47 I was searched many times without authorization from the Attorney General. During 1949-1955, the chekists were too busy to waste their time on searches. They merely summoned me to the military commissariat and from there took me to the MGB.
After the 20th Party Congress, I was usually searched with formal authorization from the Attorney General. Sometimes, I am searched in secret. For instance, on October 16, 1964 they came to the home of my mother-in-law Uršulė Keraitienėe and took her to security headquarters to discuss the affairs of her son-in-law, who, in their words, seldom goes to church and has chosen Russian friends and even Jews in his fight against the Soviet government. At the same time, other chekists inspected my books and notes.
On June 5, 1975 (Miss) Broné Kibickaitè was dismissed from her position as computer center engineer at the Vilnius State University.
At the beginning of September 1974, (Miss) Kibickaitè was told by Mathematics School Dean Merkys: "We have to let you go." He slipped a sheet of paper towards her and suggested she write a statement that she was leaving work of her own free will.
"Why do you need my statement? Write an order," suggested (Miss) Kibickaitè.
"We have no basis . . . Please understand us. Write the statement and it will be better for both you and us. We will give you a good recommendation," explained the dean.
"I am not asking for mercy, if I have done something wrong, fire me."
"Please understand us," begged the dean.
On January 10, 1975, the training program of the Šiauliai LAD manufacturing firm fired the painter Mečislovas Jurevičius because on 11/10/74, 12/7/74, 12/25/74 and 1/6/75 he observed religious holidays and absented himself from work on those days. Jurevičius petitioned the Šiauliai People's Court regarding the unjustified dismissal from work. However the court rejected his claim. The Šiauliai lawyers which Jurevičius contacted for legal assistance refused to help him. Prosecutor J. Pi-varas who attended the trial, did not defend Jurevičius' right to the job which was violated by the Šiauliai city people's court when it upheld the order of the Šiauliai LAD manufacturing firm management to dismiss Jurevičius from work. Industrial law expert (Mrs) M. Čepulienė was not able to explain to the court that the internal work regulations of the training program of the Šiauliai LAD manufacturing firm conflict with the USSR Constitution, art. 124 and the LSSR Constitution, art. 96 and that the LSSR Criminal Code art. 143 provides penalties for this. Moreover, Jurevičius' statement was not read at the public court session.
In June 1975, Instructor R. Patašius of the Kaunas Poly-technical Institute (KPI) was summoned to the military commissariat. KGB employee Rusteika was waiting for him there. After stating that the Politechnical Institute was under his jurisdiction, Rusteika invited R. Patašius to security headquarters for a "talk", which lasted about four hours.
From the very start, Instructor R. Patašius was charged with being a vehement anti-Soviet agitator and an evil person.
"You know, you can immediately be fired from your job," stated Rusteika.
"Fire me, if you can," boldly replied R. Patašius. "Only the sooner, the better."
Rusteika charged that Patašius, as a member of the independent film studio KPI-FILM, is known for his anti-Soviet views and had defamed the Soviet system in private conversations.
Patašius was ordered to report in detail on the moods and views of other film studio members. Patašius did not reply to such questions.
On September 16, 1975 a meeting of the welders group was held at the Šiauliai Technical Trade School, during which an attempt was made to enroll all the students in the Communist Youth League. Students would be called in front of the class and asked: "Do you yourself refuse to join the Youth League or do your parents forbid you to join?" Those who did not join the Youth League were ejected from the classroom and told to bring their parents. Student Urbutis explained that he would not join the Communist Youth League even if forced to do so.
"I will not yield to force. Neither I nor my parents want me to join the Communist Youth League."
When asked if his parents are believers and attend church, the student replied:
"We are all believers and attend church."
Urbutis was ridiculed. Instructors Gylys and Milius ordered the students who did not join the Communist Youth League to stand for a half hour with their arms raised.
"All thieves, hoodlums and Fascists do not belong to the Communist Youth League," shouted Milius. "If you fill out the forms you won't have to stand with your arms raised, but if you don't fill them out, we will expel you from school."
The students were terrorized for an entire hour but did not give in. Those who did not join the Communist Youth League were assigned the hardest work. Half of the class did not join the Communist Youth League.