On December 15, 1980, in Courtroom 101 of the Supreme Court in Vilnius among the many spectators were the families and close relatives of the three defendants: G. Iešmantas, P. Pečeliūnas, and V. Skuodis. On the judge's desk lay twenty-four volumes of trial material. The defendants were brought in. They were tired but strong in spirit. Prosecuting Attorney Bakučionis, Judge Ignotas, the assessors, Didžiulienė and a man with a Russian surname, entered. The judge asked whether the defendants had any remarks concerning the composition of the court. All three refused the services of counsel since they were appointed December 8, just as the defendants were presented with the particulars of the case, and they had no time to familiarize themselves with the case. Povilas Pečeliūnas noted that he had not received any legal consultation even though he had waited for the attorney on September 9,11, and 12; Attorney Kudaba had had no time to meet with the defendant. In addition, Skuodis requested that the composition of the court be changed because being members of the Communist Party, they could not be objective in such a trial. The court dismissed the attorneys, who left the court with lowered heads. Moreover, Iešmantas's wish not to have his son summoned to testify against his father was deliberated. This request was supported by Pečeliūnas and Skuodis. The court denied the request.
The defendants presented themselves to the court:
Skuodis, Vytautas: according to his birth certificate Vytautas-Benediktas Scott
— born March 21, 1929, in Chicago, U.S.A.
— a citizen of the USSR
— never tried
— education: high level; worked at Vilnius State University as a lecturer/instructor.
Iešmantas, Gintautas: born in 1930 in Lithuania
— citizen of the USSR
— worked for twenty years as a journalist on newspapers of the republic, later at the bibliographical archives
— a graduate of the Vilnius State Institute of Pedagogy; specialist in Lithuanian language and literature.
Pečeliūnas, Povilas: born May 17, 1928, in Panevėžys Rayon
—citizen of the USSR
— married in fact, but unable to formalize the union before his arrest
— worked at the Vilnius Night Secondary School no. 14, teaching Lithuanian language and literature.
— The charges were read:
V. Skuodis was accused of systematically listening to foreign radio broadcasts and consequently of forming anti-Communist attitudes, of becoming interested in illegal literature of an anti-Soviet nature which defamed the Soviet system. The illegal publications were being duplicated; during the search an Optima typewriter was discovered. Skuodis was accused of producing Perspektyvos (Perspectives), of participating in the production of Alma Mater, which carried Skuodis's article, in Lithuanian, "Ethnography Should Concern Us All." The most serious allegation concerned his work Spiritual Genocide in Lithuania (300 pages in Lithuanian), which was duplicated no less than four times. He was accused of writing petitions to President Carter of the United States, the signatories of the Helsinki Final Act, and members of the Lithuanian Helsinki Watch Group. Libelous anti-Soviet propaganda was allegedly contained within those writings with the purpose of undermining the foundations of the Soviet state. Supposedly the facts of Soviet reality were presented in a distorted and libelous fashion and attempts were made to denigrate it in the eyes of the United States by transmitting disinformation, etc.
Iešmantas was accused of writing anti-Soviet poetry and articles (according to him they are studies), and of submitting them for publication to the editors of illegal publications. The majority of articles appeared in Perspektyvos. Iešmantas, like Skuodis, was accused of listening to foreign radio broadcasts, of becoming interested in illegal literature, and of participating in its duplication and distribution. He was accused of fostering the idea of Lithuanian secession from the USSR in his articles, as well as other ideas described in the article "Rubikonas" (Rubicon).
P. Pečeliūnas was accused of writing a number of articles which were printed in Perspektyvos. They allegedly defamed the Soviet system, and one of them extolled the actions of the allegedly mentally ill Romas Kalanta as having been a protest against the violations of human rights and freedom in Soviet Lithuania (nineteen-year-old Kalanta immolated himself in 1972 as a form of protest against Communist suppression of Lithuanian national rights — Tr.). He had typed these articles on the typewriter found at [Miss] D. Keršiūtė's residence. Pečeliūnas was also accused of editing the publication Alma Mater.
All their activities were characterized as anti-Soviet, as undermining the foundations of the Soviet system, for the accused had slanderously affirmed that in Soviet Lithuania there were no democratic freedoms, that Lithuania was occupied and that the Soviet government was fascistic by nature and sought to morally and physically destroy the Baltic nations. All of the accused are thus considered state criminals with criminal ties to the "reactionary" elements among the Lithuanian emigres in the United States and sent their works abroad to the foreign press and radio.
It was stated that there were no aggravating or extentuating circumstances in this case. They were being accused of activities which violated Article 68,Paragraph 1.
None of the accused pleaded guilty.
The personal files of the defendants were read. Iešmantas and Pečeliūnas were characterized as publicly inactive, Skuodis as an activist.
The first to be questioned was Iešmantas. He was asked about the circumstances of every article. The accused explained that he has been writing poetry since he was seventeen and has written more than 1,100 poems or several collections. He has been writing theoretical studies since 1977, and some of them were written in 1978-79.
"To whom did you give your works?"
"I will not say," the accused answered firmly.
"From whom did you obtain the illegal publications?"
"I will not answer."
The judge reminded him that on April 1 Iešmantas admitted that he gave articles to publishers and still later to the editors of Perspektyvos. Then Iešmantas read a statement stating that the majority of things recorded during the preliminary interrogation resulted from the imagination of the interrogators Urbonas and Kadys. Many things were distorted, and entire paragraphs and sentences were changed.Therefore, Iešmantas was refus in to acknowledge the records of the preliminary investigation and was rejecting the evidence recorded there.
"Why do you write that the government of Soviet Lithuania is in fact fascistic?"
"In lnostranaja literatura there was a discussion about democratic freedoms. There, one Soviet scholar claimed that where democratic freedoms are infringed, you have fascism."
"What are the sources for your work?"
"For my poetry — life itself; for the scholarly studies, the Soviet press."
"How do you understand freedom of the press?"
"There is none. There is no immediate prospect of any, and it's not worth discussing."
A few questions followed, evoking Iešmantas's political views.
"Why did you write 'Rubikonas'?"
"The idea took shape during the process of poetic creation, and I wanted to present it in a scholarly study."
Again a number of questions: To whom did you give the illegal publications? When, how, and for what purpose? Iešmantas did not answer these questions. He replied only to questions which concerned his authorship and his beliefs. He had signed his writings with pen names, like the nineteenth-century poets, trying to avoid arrest. He admitted that on occasion he would listen to foreign radio broadcasts, but that is not forbidden.
The questioning of Skuodis, a university lecturer, began with the suggestion that he tell something of his work during the past ten years. He was asked where he worked prior to the University of Vilnius and what his responsibilities had been, what the title of his dissertation had been, when he had defended it, how he had gotten to his position at the University of Vilnius, what his duties there were, and what his public commitments were. Skuodis responded to these questions, remarking that he had very many public commitments equivalent, in fact, to working at a second job without pay. He was interested in literature, history, and religious questions.
"Why is the manuscript which was seized during the search of November 24 called Spiritual Genocide in Lithuania?"
"There were other possibilities, but this title seemed most appropriate to the contents."
Skuodis categorically refused to answer questions regarding his other manuscripts. He reminded them that he had answered only 20 percent of the 668 questions asked him during the preliminary investigation. He would keep to the same policy throughout the trial's questioning period. Skuodis stated that it is amoral to speak disrespectfully of the illegal press.
When asked about Alma Mater, the defendant did not reply.
Accused that he had reproduced no less than four copies of Spiritual Genocide in Lithuania, he explained that this was a scholarly work and not propaganda. Besides, it was unfinished and was to be submitted for review.
The prosecuting attorney inquired about the methodology of this work. Skuodis explained that it was basically mathematical statistics. The data to which this methodology was applied had been taken from the press yearbook. His conclusions, which he himself had typed, were based on this data. He had concluded that the scholarly level of atheistic articles was low, even though there had been attempts of "scientific" atheism. The question of the existence of God is rarely touched upon. In Soviet society religion is feared more than drunkenness, adultery, hooliganism, or drug abuse. Prosecutor Bakučionis paid particular attention to this conclusion, considering it to be libelous. He also reproached Skuodis that in his conclusions he spoke disrespectfully of certain authors, calling them drunkards, adulterers, and that he groundlessly claimed that atheistic articles were an attempt to guarantee oneself the right to publish one's other works — e.g., Miškinis — or a better-paying position. Skuodis stressed that he would have changed a number of things during the editing but that there are grounds for these allegations. It is only in this way that one can explain why an author has written but a single atheistic article. Thus, the ideas in Spiritual Genocide in Lithuania are not imagined but based on concrete factual data.
To the question of why he distributed questionnaires to students, the defendant explained that as curator he was obliged to determine the interests of the student academic group. He was satisfied with the results of the questionnaires because a majority of the young people look at life seriously. They are against drunkenness, smoking, adultery, and other vices.
Asked whether he had driven with Pečeliūnas to Kernavė, he replied that if someone invited him, he usually did not refuse, and if there was room in the car, he did not refuse to take someone needing a ride.
To the question, how does he explain the seven copies of Aušra that were found in his home, the defendant replied that he had had the opportunity to obtain them, and he had held on to them to exchange them for other publications. Skuodis's interest in illegal literature was for his next projected work (in Lithuanian) "The Concept of Slander and Lying in Soviet Propaganda and Reality."
Additional questions concerned letters which incriminated him: "To Mr. James Carter," "To the Believers of Lithuania," "To the Lithuanian Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights," and "To the Signatories of the Final Act of the Helsinki Conference." The defendant explained that he had distributed them and had sent them abroad.
Added to the case were recordings of foreign radio broadcasts in which Skuodis was mentioned and clippings from foreign newspapers.
Prosecutor Bakučionis accused Skuodis of slanderously claiming that Professor Kazlauskas had been murdered. Skuodis emphasized that in his letter there is no mention of murder; however, medics do not believe the conclusion of certain expert witnesses regarding the killing of Professor Kazlauskas since no water was found in his lungs. That meant he had died before ending up in the water. In addition, there were witnesses who saw the KGB take the professor into custody.
December 16. Cross-Examination of Povilas Pečeliūnas
The essential questions concerned how and where he obtained the articles (all in Lithuanian): "We Begin a New Era," "Lithuania and the Dissident Movement,""This is the Fifth Decade That the World Is Living off Slogans," "A Practical Problem," etc. Pečeliūnas explained that he did not know the authors of these articles. During 1979 he used to find articles in his mailbox or in a pail by his door. He used to receive other illegal literature this way. Questioned as to why he kept manuscripts of these articles in his apartment, he replied that if one wished to form a correct world view, one had to know everything, even what the underground press was saying. Inquiring about each article individually, the judge tried to obtain from Pečeliūnas an admission that his views were anti-Soviet. That was why he quoted excerpts from some of the articles, but the defendant insisted that quotations taken out of context proved nothing. The judge attempted to discover Pečeliūnas's views in court regarding indirectly related topics, but the accused stated that it was only possible to exchange political views at home with people capable of understanding.
"So you don't think such conditions exist here?" the judge asked.
Pečeliūnas would not admit to being the author of the introductory article in Alma Mater, entitled (in Lithuanian) "Beginning a New Era in the Life of Alma Mater." Pečeliūnas said that he wanted to learn how to type and, therefore, tried to retype the article, which he had found in poor condition, on his fiancee, [Miss] D. Keršiūtė's, typewriter. The defendant used to copy texts in various locations and not just at home. Asked why one copy of "Beginning a New Era" was edited, he replied that being a teacher (he had worked as a rewrite man in the editorial offices) he was accustomed to editing everything, even letters.
"Did you show the articles or magazines to anyone?"
"No, I kept them to myself."
The article "How to Act during Interrogations" had interested Pečeliūnas as a bibliographical rarity, as had all the other manuscripts found in his possession.
When questioned regarding his acquaintance with the other defendants, he answered that while working at the bibliographical archives, he had heard the name of Iešmantas and that he knew Skuodis by sight. Besides, they had been students at the same time. He was very surprised that all three of them were codefendants. They had never met for the purpose of distributing illegal publications, nor were they acquainted on that basis. Asked how six copies and twenty-four covers of Alma Mater came to be in his possession, he answered that he knew nothing about it.
Cross-Examination of the Witnesses
Dobrovolskis, Bronius, son of Vaclovas, Department Head in the Ministry of Education:
He testified that once Iešmantas had showed him a copy that he would not let out of his hands of either Perspektyvos or Rūpintojėlis (The pensive Christ) which dealt with the resolution of the Tashkent Conference to introduce the teaching of the Russian language into schools beginning in the first grade and in kindergarten. He responded unsteadily and distractedly to questions put forward by Iešmantas.
[Miss] Dalia Martišiūtė:
Iešmantas had given her a collection of poems and "Rubikonas" to read. She was not capable of reading all of it, for it was a complex philosophical work. She had also seen three issues of Perspektyvos, but she did not know who published it. Iešmantas had asked her whether she could type something.
The prosecutor tried to determine what she remembered about "Rubikonas" and how she had understood that it was anti-Soviet literature. Martišiūtė answered she had understood that it contained thoughts which must not be publicly expressed.
She was acquainted with Iešmantas. He had asked her to type some sort of manuscript. When she saw the suspicious-looking text, she refused to type it.
Iešmantas, Rimantas, son of the defendant:
He admitted that the letters shown to him by the judge were his. He had read the article (in Lithuanian) "Of what Do a Soldier's Letters Remind Us?" There were similarities between his letters and the article.
Žvirgždys, Petras, son of Petras. Sacristan at the church in Slavikai:
He had known Pečeliūnas since 1968 or 1969. They had worked together and lived in the same neighborhood. They used to have conversations dealing with political and social questions. In all their conversations Pečeliūnas demonstrated anti-Soviet tendencies, responding to counter-arguments with his own opinions. He had never seen Iešmantas and knew nothing of their relationship. He became completely confused when cross-examined by the defendants.
[Mrs.] Stoskeliuniene, Milda, daughter of Vaclovas:
She was acquainted with Saulius Pečeliūnas. She used to occasionally see him visiting her husband. Once she
overheard a discussion about the freedom of religion. Saulius had stated that there was no religious freedom,
while she had argued that it was not so.
[Miss]Rabačiauskaitė, Aurelija, daughter of Napoleonas:
She knew Iešmantas and Pečeliūnas. On either March 17 or 19 she had found Perspektyvos in a drawer, had brought it home, but did not have time to read it. Leafing through it, she had understood that it contained critical ideas but had not noticed any anti-Soviet attacks.
Stoskeliūnas, Juozas, son of Jonas (from Punskas, Polish People's Republic:
He knew Pečeliūnas. Pečeliūnas had mentioned some illegal publications, but he had not been shown any, nor was he told who published them.
Klausonas, Ferdinandas, son of Stasys, a director of the documentary section at a film studio:
He was acquainted with Saulius but only now has learned that Saulius was Pečeliūnas. They had become acquainted in 1977 in Nida at a vacation spa. They had met four or five times. He had obtained literature he needed.
[Miss] Venclovaitė, Dalia, daughter of Vincas, an engineer:
She knew Pečeliūnas. When she was living with [Miss] D. Keršiūtė, she had seen the typewriter used by Keršiūtė. She had heard nothing about any illegal publications. Their duscussions revolved about consumer shortages and the morals of young people.
Ališauskas, Vladas, son of Pranas, handyman at the Polytechnical School:
He was acquainted with Pečeliūnas. He first heard about illegal publications from the prosecutors and now from the judge. Pečeliūnas had helped him when he was studying. Once at Pečeliūnas's apartment he had listened to foreign radio broadcasts.
[Miss] Keršiūtė, Danutė, daughter of Vaclovas:
She knew her fiance, Povilas Pečeliūnas. She obtained the typewriter in 1975-76.
"What do you know about illegal publications?"
"I had six copies of Alma Mater. I found them under the doormat and hid them in Pečeliūnas's apartment.
Material evidence in the case was announced. For the most part it consisted of "documents" seized during the search and evaluations, orders discharging people from work, testimony of expert witnesses, evaluations of illegal literature, reviews, and a copy of a posthumous psychiatric evaluation of R. Kalanta.
The Prosecutor's Speech
According to the prosecutor, the charges against the accused are grave indeed. They are accused of conducting anti-Soviet propaganda and agitation. They produced, distributed, and stored, for the purpose of distribution, illegal literature of an anti-Soviet nature. Their activities are proscribed by Article 68, Paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code.
The prosecutor went on to recall the facts read in the indictment. All three are linked to one another through the creative work of Iešmantas. "They established ties among themselves and proceeded to work together." According to the prosecutor, the accusation is borne out by circumstantial evidence only. Following their arrest, neither Perspektyvos nor Alma Mater saw the light of day. Perspektyvos libelously claimed that Lithuania was occupied by Russia, that Russification was occurring, and exalted such criminals as Petkus, Gajauskas, and a whole series of other nationalists. The publication Alma Mater insisted that the young no longer have high ideals nor the possibility of living up to their goals.
The prosecutor recommended six years of strict-regime camp and five years of exile for Skuodis; three years of strict-regime camp and five years of exile for Pečeliūnas; four years of strict-regime camp and five years of exile for Iešmantas.
Statement of Defense by Pečeliūnas
Pečeliūnas considered the statements of the witnesses Žvirgždys, Stoskeliunas, and [Mrs.] Stoskeliuniene, pointed out the contradictions, and showed that there was no basis for giving them credence. He categorically denied the charge that six copies were kept for distribution purposes and that the covers were his. He reminded everyone that during the preliminary interrogation he had become physically and morally exhausted, but the interrogators were unable to prove anything. The collected evidence did not justify application of Article 68. Everything which had been stated in the indictment and in the prosecutor's presentation was supposition. It had definitely not been proven that he was the author of the manuscripts. In conclusion, Pečeliūnas maintained that he was not guilty and demanded exoneration.
Statement of Defense by Skuodis
Skuodis spoke for six hours. Several times the judge demanded that he shorten his address. Skuodis insisted that he "had committed no offense against the state. This is a conflict between the party, which places itself above the state, and myself." It was also for this reason that he had requested that the makeup of the court be changed since all were party members. Because he justifiably did not consider himself to be a citizen of the USSR, on October 1 he had written a request that he be defended by an attorney from the United States. The request went unanswered.
The defendant emphasized that he had not been allowed to consult with an attorney and that after the indictment was presented, basic material intended for his defense had been seized. On December 11 the defense speech he had begun to prepare had also been seized. "Having heard the prosecutor's speech," stated Skuodis, "I am not at all sure that the prosecution did not make use of it in preparing the speech." The accused commented widely on the assumptions of the indictment, supporting himself with facts, laws, and documents. He remarked, among other things, that the raising of questions regarding freedom and economic and political questions cannot be treated as crime. The constitution of the USSR gives every citizen the right to present suggestions and to criticize. University lecturer Skuodis demonstrated using a great number of facts that the prosecuting attorney's accusations were unfounded, subjective assumptions. The guilty ones were those who were suppressing the criticism which seeks to upgrade the prestige of the state and to strengthen its economic base. In conclusion Skuodis suggested that he be acquitted and that the case be turned over to the Constitutional Court.
Statement of Defense by Iešmantas
The accused in his defense speech denied all accusations as unfounded and unproven. He especially emphasized that a person cannot be tried for his beliefs.
The Prosecuting Attorney waived his right to rebuttal. The final statements of the defendants followed.
The Final Statement of Pečeliūnas
Povilas Pečeliūnas spoke of his work and his respect for books. He mentioned his poor health, as well as the fact that he was a practicing Catholic who has never betrayed his conscience even though there had been opportunities in his youth and even now. Whatever would happen, he felt that he was in the right and would endure his fate patiently.
The Final Statement of Skuodis
University lecturer Skuodis spoke for two hours. We submit some of his thoughts, recorded from memory.
"Since the prosecutor touched upon the formation of my views, I must mention a few biographical facts. I remember when the Germans seized the Klaipėda region and we students of the gymnasium debated what we could do to defend our homeland. At that time I felt I had matured within a few hours. Soon afterwards the Red Army marched into Lithuania on the pretext of protecting its own western borders. This fact forced me to think about the future of the homeland. Not one of Lithuania's sons could remain indifferent to its fate. The sufferings of our homeland continued during World War II when the Germans pushed back the Russian army and when the latter returned in 1945. To avoid military service in an army not to their liking, many sons of Lithuania took to the forests; they were then called bandits. Seeing all this, I could not remain undecided. Every conscientious citizen must love his country. This is not nationalism. Every member of the nation must be a patriot. Thus, the accusation of the prosecutor, that convicted 'bourgeois nationalists' and the mentally ill (Romas Kalanta) are extolled in illegal literature, is slander.
"The indictment repeatedly stressed that illegal literature states that Lithuania is 'allegedly occupied/ 'allegedly being Russified,' and, therefore, this literature is 'libelous.' Since I am accused of taking par t in its production, duplication, and distribution, I am obliged to speak out. There is no doubt, despite the fact that the judge would not allow me to state all of my arguments, that Lithuania, as a result of annexation, has become a part of Russia. That it is being Russified is also obvious. The resolutions of the Tashkent Conference are already being implemented. The Russian language is being taught beginning in the first grade and in kindergarten. The name of Lithuania is heard less and less. It is an unpleasant experience to hear on the bus 'Sto takoje Litva, ja znaju ... a sto takoje Lietuva, neslychal' (I know what Litva is; but I have never heard of Lithuania.' And that is in its capital — in Vilnius!
"I know illegal literature well. I became interested in it for my projected work (in Lithuanian) The Concept of Slander and Lying in Soviet Propaganda and in Reality. I do not know when I would have written it since I had little free time. My interests were broad. While a lecturer at the university, I served as a member of the Environmental Protection Committee. I exerted no small effort to preserve the Old Town of Vilnius, where there were plans to construct underground parking. Moreover, there was a plan to sink a shaft near Marcinkonys, which threatened all of southeastern Lithuania. I had occasion to speak out on this matter too. Much time and energy had to be devoted to organizing and administering the Department of Environmental Protection. This work, which was in addition to my other duties, I performed without remuneration.
"I began my career as a furnace tender at the university," Skuodis continued, "At that time I was offered 1000 rubles and a 'good position.' Already at that time I could have chosen an easier life, but I chose the more difficult road indicated to me by my conscience.
"The prosecutor claims that my anti-Soviet attitudes were formed by listening to foreign radio broadcasts. To tell a person my age what to listen to or what to read is naive, to say the least. In addition to the historical events I mentioned earlier, the formation of my views was influenced by a contemplative attitude toward life. Investigating historical materialism more deeply, I doscovered many flaws and a lack of logic. My philosophical studies helped me to return to the Catholic Church even though I had been indifferent for about fifteen years. Now I am a firmly believing member of the Catholic Church. For the past ten years I have been openly taking part in religious services. For some reason this was allowed for a long time even though my employees knew about it.
"In the opinion of the court," continued the accused, "Spiritual Genocide in Lithuania libelously maintains that in Lithuania there is religious persecution, that atheism is of a low calibre, that the worst enemy of the party is Catholicism, and that drunkenness, hooliganism, venereal disease, abortion, and drug addiction are the greatest vices in Soviet society.' These conclusions, they say, are unfounded. Spiritual Genocide in Lithuania is not a work of propaganda but a scholarly study. This work was done during 1977-79 and not 1975-79, as the prosecutor is trying to assert.
"I turned to the Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights because of my Spiritual Genocide in Lithuania, wishing to contribute to the work of the committee and I assigned this study to the care of the committee. I believe that the study reveals the true plight of the Catholics of Lithuania in their occupied country.
"In addition, I have written a letter to Premier Brezhnev of the USSR regarding my views, explaining how 1 arrived at my present situation. KGB agents confiscated that letter during the search. That letter would exonerate me, and I ask that it be included in the files of this case. (The judge refused to do so — Ed.).
"In conclusion, I would like to state again that I have not broken the law. Neither Alma Mater nor Perspektyvos, whose publication, duplication, and distribution are blamed on me, contain anything libelous. The illegal literature only suggests how to improve the current plight of our society.
It criticizes, but it does not seek to undermine the system's foundations. The prosecutor's accusation is terrifying, but even if I were sentenced to death, I would accept it calmly, as a son of Lithuania whose life belongs to the homeland and its people. I have finished!"
December 22. The Final Statement of Iešmantas
In his closing statement Iešmantas said that his final word was his work "Mintys parastese" (Thoughts in the margins). The defendant expressed his conviction that he would bear up under the results of the verdict. He ended his speech with a poem to his friends.
The verdict was read at 3 p.m. Vytautas Skuodis received the most severe sentence: seven years of strict-regime camp and five years of exile; Gintautas Iešmantas, six years of strict-regime camp and five of exile; Povilas Pečeliūnas, three years of strict-regime camp and five of exile.
Throughout the trial, a large group of the defendants' friends and acquaintances and a number of religious believers kept vigil from morning until night in the foyer of the Suprem Court. No one allowed them into the courtroom because security agents and the police were constantly on guard, watching everyone who entered, seeking to intimidate those who had come in various ways. They roughly twisted people's arms and took them away or else insolently approached and photographed them without asking permission.
The attitude of the security people was best indicated by their remarks to those in the courthouse foyer, such as "If I had my way, I'd throw them all into jail!" or "You'll get into the courtroom over my dead body!" They were most annoyed when they saw a reflective expression. The security agent on guard at the door would immediately begin to shout, "You're not allowed to pray here! I can tell from your faces that you're praying!"
On December 19 Skuodis's daughters presented flowers to their father in court. They were rudely pushed about for this and were not admitted for the handing down of the verdict on the following day. They had to stand in the foyer all day.
That is why people began to write letters of protest.
"To: The Prosecutor of the Lithuanian SSR
"On December 17,1980, in the Vilnius Supreme Court, Povilas Pečeliūnas, Vytautas Skuodis, and Gintautas Iešmantas were being tried. Even though the trial was termed 'public,' interested parties and relatives of the defendants were not allowed into the courtroom. When Karolis Kamandulis tried to enter the courtroom, the security policeman on duty banged his fist and shouted, 'Go to the devil! What, do you want to sit with the priests?' And, with policemen, one in the uniform of a senior lieutenant, twisting his arms, he was taken to an office and warned to get home as quickly as possible. Otherwise, a summons would be issued to pay a fine.
"We protest that people are not allowed into a public trial and are pushed about and threatened with punishment without reason in the foyer of the Supreme Court.
"Would it not be worthwhile to choose, at least in the capitol, officials who would not compromise Soviet laws and would respect Soviet citizens?
(signed) R. Matulis, Rev. A. Svarinskas, [Miss] O. Kavaliauskaitė, [Mrs.] A. Ragaišienė, Rev. S. Tamkevičius, J. Sadūnas, Ardzijauskas, M. Jurevičius, [Miss] B. Briliūtė, G. Rickevičius, [Miss] Dubauskaitė, [Miss] N. Sukevičiūtė, [Miss] J. Judikevičiūtė, [Miss] Kerbelytė, K. Kamandulis, [Miss] R. Terešiūte, [Miss] Meškauskaitė, [Miss] M. Gavėnaitė, [Miss] N.
"To: Republican Prosecutor J. Kairelis
"During December 15-19, 1980, the Supreme Court tried the criminal case of university lecturer Vytautas Skuodis, the Lithuanian studies expert and teacher Povilas Pečeliūnas, and the journalist Gintautas Iešmantas.
"During the trial the witness [Miss] Danutė Keršiūtė (Pečeliūnas's fiancee) presented each of the defendants with a flower. She was taken into custody for this and accused of indecent behavior and given a sentence of seven days.
"Since when has the presentation of flowers become an indecent act deserving punishment?
"During this trial Petras Cidzikas wanted to attend the open trial session as an observer. The first time, December 16, as he sat quietly in the vestibule, police officers seized him so roughly that his wrist watch was broken. They led him out into the yard and wanted to seat him in the van intended for the transport of prisoners, but the soldiers would not allow it, so they threatened him and released him. On December 18 Petras Cidzikas went to the Supreme Court once again, but he was stopped on the steps of the courthouse building and driven away somewhere. His fate is still unknown.
"We protest the unjust arrests of Danutė Keršiūtė and Petras Cidzikas and demand that they be released immediately and that the Supreme Court be instructed that all those wishing to attend should be able to get into public trial sessions.
"We are very concerned about the fate of those apprehended.
(signed) [Miss] A. Kerbelytė, [Miss] D. Meškauskaitė, [Miss] E. Šuliauskaitė, A. Tučkus, J. Volungevičius, M. Jurevičius, [Miss] L. Sasnauskaitė, [Miss] R. Kobkaitė, [Missl R. Tamašauskaitė, [Missl J. Bukaveckaitė, V. Bogušis, S. Kelpša, [Miss] B. Mališkaitė, [Miss] A. Raižytė, Rev. S. Tamkevičius, [Miss] O. Kavaliauskaitė, A. Žilinskas, [Miss] J. Judikevičiūtė, [Missl N. Sadūnaitė, [Mrs.] Skuodiene, [Miss] G. Skuodytė, [Miss] D.
Skuodytė, [Mrs.] Iešmantienė."