Žagarė (Joniškis Rayon)
On August 24,1984 Commissioner Petras Anilionis of the Council for Religious Affairs came to Žagarė to visit His Excellency. Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius. He introduced himself, saying. "I have come as a representative of the government to warn you."
The commisioner presented Bishop Steponavičius with the following accusations:
1.The bishop signed, with 500 priests, a petition regarding the Regulations for Religious Associations.
2.He signed a petition from priests of the Archdiocese of Kaunas regarding the arrested priests, Father Alfonsas Svarinskas and Father Sigitas Tamkevičius.
3.The bishop travels around to religious festivals, jubilees and funerals.
4.He prayed for state criminals, e.g., recently in Utena, he prayed for the criminal, Canon Petras Rauda, on the tenth anniversary of his death. Canon Rauda was never rehabilitated! In his sermon, the bishop said, "The years he spent in labor camp were marked by sacrifice and love for the Church." In his sermon, he also mentioned that in our country today, one-third of the marriages end in divorce. This is considered an anti-Soviet statement.
5.A few years ago, in Telšiai, he prayed for Bishop Pranciškus Ramanauskas and other deceased bishops of that diocese.
6.In his talks with priests, he has urged them, "It is necessary to catechize the children." In other words, he has urged them not to abide by Soviet law.
7.He has interfered in the affairs of the Archdiocese of Vilnius. He sent a letter to the chanceries regarding the organization of the Priests' Council and the College of Consultors of the Archdiocese of Vilnius. He has no right to interfere in the affairs of the archdiocese. The state does not recognize his actions.
He incited the Administrator of the Diocese of Panevėžys, Monsignor Kazimieras Dulksnys, to form independently a Priests' Council and College of Consultors.
At this point, Bishop Steponavičius reminded Anilionis, "You are interfering in the affairs of the Church. For example, you require that only those you choose be appointed to Priests' Councils or the College of Consultors, even though in the press and on radio and television, you proclaim that you do not interfere in the canonical or liturgical activities of the Church." After these words, the commissioner, looking at the bishop angrily, fell silent.
The commissioner dared to advise the bishop agains goint to Vilnius, for the closing services of the Year of Saint Casimir, August 26. To all this, His Excellency responded. "I do not feel that I have committed any crime against the civil government. I am going to the Saint Casimir celebration. I think that will be better for you also. What will the people abroad say if they find out that you forbid it?"
Anilionis was worried that the bishop might report the conversation to the Chronicle. To this, Bishop Steponavičius replied, "I'm going to tell everyone that you visited me, and what you warned me about."
On June 1, 1984, Commissioner Petras Anilionis of the Office of Religious Affairs summoned to the Panevėžys Diocesan Chancery all the deans of the aforesaid diocese. Arriving, the deans found posted in the chancery an announcement by the administrator of the diocese,
Monsignor Kazimieras Dulksnys, regarding the Diocesan Priests' Council and the College of Consultors which had been organized.
When Religious Affairs Commissioner Petras Anilionis arrived, he was very annoyed at such an announcement. He stated, "I am not interfering in the priests' choice (of the six priests), but I will never agree that the six priests be appointed as members of the Priests' Council without my consent." Anilionis categorically stated that without his approval the College of Consultors was invalid. In the list of members of the College of Consultors which had been posted, the names of Canon Bronius Antanaitis, Father Petras Baltuška and Father Jonas Balčiūnas aroused the special ire of Anilionis.
The commissioner, disregarding that the composition of the College of Consultors had already been announced by Monsignor Dulksnys, ordered that the aforesaid three members unacceptable to him be replaced by others.
Intimidated by Anilionis, Monsignor Dulksnys gave in. However, on August 6, 1984, Monsignor Dulksnys wrote to Commissioner Anilionis, indicating that he had made the changes in the Priests' Council and College of Consultors before cheking Canon Law, and in response to repeated demands from the commissioner. In his communication, he listed the Priests' Council and the College of Consultors unchanged, as duly elected.
On August 14, Monsignor Dulksnys was summoned to Vilnius to see Petras Anilionis, who demanded that Monsignor Dulksnys rescind his letter of August 6. Apparently, the commissioner does not wish to acknowledge the original appointments to the Priests' Council and Collete of Consultors.
On August 11, 1984, the Priests' Council of the Diocese of Panevėžys asembled at the diocesan chancery. Monsignor Dulksnys informed those assembled of his letter of August 6, which indicates that the Priests' Council consists of Fathers: Peter Adomonis, Canon Bronius Antonaitis, Petras Baltuška, Petras Kuzmickas, Juozas Janulis, Antanas Balaišis, Canon Petras Žukelis, Canon Jonas Juodelis, Dean Jonas Pranevičius, Dean Klemensas Gutauskas, Jonas Balčiūnas and Petras Budriūnas. The College of Consultors consists of: Canon Bronius Antanaitis, Chancellor Petras Juodelis and Petras Kuzmickas.
On June 1, Anilionis spoke angrily to the deans. He was especially annoyed that the deans and even the administrator of the diocese, Monsignor Kazimieras Dulksnys, signed a letter from the priests of the Diocese of Panevėžys to- the Soviet government, protesting against the arrest of Father Alfonsas Svarinskas and Father Sigitas Tamkevičius. He threatened that in the future, every priest who signs a similar document will have to certify his signature at KGB headquarters.
Anilionis tried to convince the deans who had been summoned that Fathers Alfonsas Svarinskas and Sigitas Tamkevičius had been justly sentenced. The commissioner was convinced that the priests sentenced had no reason to be angry and to bring up various contemporary problems, since in his words, it was no better in former days. Anilionis based his talk on old, pre-war magazines, reading from them various news items about thefts and murders.
As an example of anti-Soviet agitation by Father Svarinskas, the commissioner indicated a sermon which Father Svarinskas terminated with the exhortation. "Brothers and sisters, let us go to establish a new Lithuania. . ." "New, it is true, but not a Soviet Lithuania." Anilionis added sarcastically.
On June 26, 1984, the priests of the rayon were summoned to the offices of the Šakiai Executive Committee. After some propaganda announcements by government representatives, Vice Chairman (Mrs.) Kasperavičienė, read an excerpt of a letter from Religious Affairs Commissioner Anilionis, which condemned the gathering of signatures on protests against the imprisonment of Fathers Alfonsas Svarinskas and Sigitas Tamkevičius. During the meeting, Father Romualdas Vaičiulaitis denied the accusation that the arrested priests are criminals. Father Vaičiulaitis affirmed that Father Sigitas Tamkevičius was his classmate, so he knew him well as a very exemplary and serious priest, working according to the spirit of Christ. The government representatives would not allow themselves to get engaged in further discussion; saying that it was lunchtime, they dismissed the priests.
Vice Chairman Kasperavičienė, detaining the Reverend Dean Juozas Žemaitis, reprimanded him because his youth choir sings at wakes (The youth choir sang at the funeral of a good Catholic), because he catechizes children, visits parishioners and has many children and young people at the altar.
On July 30, 1984, at 11:00 AM, Vice Chairman A. Caparas sum-
moned to the Office of the Šiauliai Rayon Executive Committee the priests of the City and Rayon of Šiauliai. Upon his arrival, Vice Commissioner Juozėnas of the Office of Religious Affairs, tried to convince the priests not to sign petitions and protests demanding the release of Father Alfonsas Svarinskas and Father Sigitas Tamke-vičius. He tried to show that the priests who had been sentenced were criminals, justly sentenced, and therefore would not be released.
On September 7, 1984, priests working in the rayon were summoned to the Offices of the Executive Committee. The Rayon government strictly forbade them to pray for the state criminals, Father Alfonsas Svarinskas and Father Sigitas Tamkevičius.
The catechizing of children is forbidden.
Canon Jonas Pilka, Father Petras Krikščiukaitis and Father Rokas Puzonas argued back strongly, recalling that the catechizing of Children is strictly enjoined by Church law, and the priests would abide by it. To this, the Rayon Executive Committee Vice Chairman retorted, "You're not going to change us, and we're not going to change you! There's no need to argue!"
Moreover, he warned that there are other transgressions of the laws but there would be no warnings — sterner measures would be applied.
At the beginning of September, 1984, the priests of the rayon were summoned to the Offices of the Jurbarkas Rayon, and warned not to pray for the imprisoned priests. Alfonsas Svarinskas and Sigitas Tamkevičius. Especially under attack was the pastor of Vadžgiris, Father Alfonsas Bulota, for a sermon delivered in Viduklė, August 2, when the people assembled on the occasion of his feast day, prayed for Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, and for a youth Mass celebrated at the beginning of the school year.
At 5:00 PM on April 3,1984, Chief Judge Misiūnas, of the Supreme Court of Lithuania, came to the seminary in Kaunas for a lecture. Along with him came a representative from the office of Petras Anilionis, who always accompanies lecturers to the seminary.
Chairman Misiūnas, in his lecture to the seminarians, explained the structure of the Supreme Court, its work, the equality of all citizens before the law, etc. Misiūnas acknowledged that in the past the court had made mistakes, but he was convinced that the mistakes had been corrected, and they were currently operating according to the principles of the Supreme Court. The lecture lasted about forty minutes. Afterwards, as usual, there was an outburst of questions:
"You speak of justice, equality and freedom, but in the Constitution there is no paragraph defending religious organizations, meetings, freedom of religious speech or religious press, so what kind of equality can there be, and how are we to understand such justice?"
Responding to this question, Misiūnas explained that even though there is no clause in the Constitution about the rights raised in the question, nevertheless, they are protected by other paragraphs of the Constitution, indirectly.
According to Misiūnas, there are such laws in other documents, but exactly which documents were the paragraphs he mentioned, defending the freedom of religious organizations assembly and religious press the chairman of the Supreme Court did not indicate. To the question why clergy and church employees are taxed double, triple or more the rate of all other agencies, Misiūnas did not reply, saying that he knew nothing about such things. Asked why no religious literature is allowed to be published, Misiūnas explained that the question was groundless. There is plenty of religious literature being published, according to Misiūnas. As an example, he mentioned the Catholic Calendar-Directory.
After such a reply by Misiūnas, when everyone knows that the edition of the Calendar is minimal, and that the Calendar itself is meant only for priests, and there are no religious books published for the faithful, hearty laughter broke out. During the lecture, the question was asked why permission is not given for erection of new churches and crosses: why long-standing crosses and newly-erected crosses are being demolished: why a large percentage of churches are closed, converted into warehouses and completely neglected, with dilapidated roofs, which no one is allowed to repair. Misiūnas said that the representative of the Office for Religious Affairs who had come with him could answer this question, but the latter also gave no specifics.
They were asked to give more details of the trial of Father Alfonsas Svarinskas. Avoiding a direct answer, Misiūnas merely expressed his own opinion, saying that if he had his way, Father Svarinskas would have been arrested long ago. In his words, the priest would have committed fewer offenses and would have received a briefer sentence in labor camp.
When Misiūnas stated that anyone who wished had been allowed into the trial, a storm of derisive laughter rang through the Audience. Supreme Court Chairman Misiūnas and the representative from the Office for Religious Affairs could not restrain their own laughter.
During the entire question and answer session, Misiūnas was nervous and restless: quite often, he referred questions to his companion, but the latter also had nothing specific to say.
Varduva (Plungė Rayon)
Pilgrims at the shrine of Žemaičių Kalvarija.
July 2 - 9, 1984, at Žemaičių Kalvarija, the great Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary took place. During the festival, sites commemorating the Passion of Christ, which the people call the Hills, are visited. Visiting these stations requires a journey of approximately 7 km: during the entire journey, hymns are sung. There are the only Hills of Calvary which the faithful were successful in defending against destruction by the atheists. Every year, crowds of believers come to the religious festival at Žemaičių Kalvarija, not just from Lithuania, but from other republics.
Prior to the festival at Žemaičių Kalvarija, the government atheists usually attack especially the Bishop of Telšiai, the Dean of Plungė and the pastor of Žemaičių Kalvarija. They demand that farm laborers who are religious believers be told from the pulpit not to miss work during the religious festival. They are especially angry on account of the Priests' Day, proclaimed during the festival. This year, Bishop Antanas Vaičius was ordered not to visit the Hills of Calvary with the faithful, and to forbid priests to go, since according to Commissioner Petras Anilionis, such visiting of the Hills of Calvary is a transgression of religious regulations.
Commissioner Anilionis demanded through the rayon government that sermons be preached only by priests of the Diocese of Telšiai, and that their names be reported in advance to the rayon offices. Loudspeakers may not be installed in the churchyard, so that faithful unable to get into the packed church might not hear the preaching.
At the rayon center, a special staff has been established under the leadership of a high KGB official from Moscow.
Žemaičių Kalvarija itself buzzed with a large number of KGB agents and traffic police, noting the license numbers of automobiles on their way to the festival. Staff members from the Religious Affairs Office participated, along with a whole brigade of agents under orders to record every sermon preached. A number of agents were ordered to record the sermons, so that there would not be the least possibility of concealing anything. Nevertheless, the number of faithful at the religious festival annually increases. This year Bishop Antanas Vaičius of Telšiai, a great number of priests and a countless throng of the faithful participated in the services at Žemaičių Kalvarija on Priests' Day.
During the concelebrated Mass, Bishop Vaičius, the priests and the faithful prayed for the sobriety of Lithuania, and her young people. After Mass, Bishop Vaičius, priests and faithful walked the Hills of Calvary. During the religious festival, over 20,000 people received Holy Communion.
On September 26,1984, the last Sunday of the month, government officials feared a possible procession of youth from Tytuvėnai to Šiluva. The pastor of Tytuvėnai, Father Liudvikas Semaška, was sum-
Procession to Šiluva.
moned to the rayon offices, and warned about the procession. On the day mentioned, a multitude of militia guarded Tytuvėnai, and patrolled Kelmė. Šiluva and the Hill of Crosses. Along the road to the Hill of Crosses, signs were erected barring traffic. Along the roads, traffic police checked passing automobiles, and fined them for the least thing, threatening to lift the drivers' licenses.
At the beginning of September, during the great religious festival of Our Lady of Šiluva, in order to make it more difficult for the faithful to reach Šiluva, certain commuter buses were cancelled, and most of the remainder coming from Kaunas and Raseiniai took on only as many passengers as there were seats available. Taxis categorically refused to take passengers in the direction of Šiluva. Traffic police zealously checked private cars and if anyone tried to drive to services repeatedly, they were accused of engaging in profiteering.
On September 9, after the principal Mass, the traditional procession of penance took place along the roads around the Basilica of Šiluva, let by a priest.
On Wednesday, September 12, the so-called Priests' Day, about forty priests concelebrated Holy Mass. On September 13, Mass was concelebrated by His Excellency. Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius and forty-six priests. In his sermon, Bishop Steponavičius brought up the difficulties experienced by believing children and youth in school and at work. As an example, he mentioned the behavior of a young man in a certain factory: When they tried to ridicule him, saying that he didn't know himself what he believed in, the young man devoutly recited the Apostles' Creed, and everyone was shamed into silence.
The bishop went on to say that priests are forbidden to teach children religion, and addressed himself to the family, emphasizing its great responsibility in the education of children, especially in teaching them religious truth.
The seminary administration, letting seminarians out for the solemnities at Šiluva, warned them not to associate with the more zealous priests, lest they possibly be infected by extremism. It is too bad that the seminary authorities do not warn seminarians not to associate with atheists, who are wrecking the Church, and with KGB, who are constantly trying to recruit Lithuanian youth and seminarians as informers.
On September 12, 1984, tourists from Latvia visiting cities of Lithuania in a hired bus, stopped off at Šiluva. Here government agents detained their bus, and took the driver away. When the driver failed to return, the people went to the militia, demanding his release. "No one informed us that stopping at Šiluva is not allowed September 8 - 16." the people told the militia. After two hours of questioning, the driver was released.
Krekenava (Panevėžys Rayon)
August 31, 1984, at the offices of the Prosecutor in Panevėžys, Father Petras Budriūnas, the pastor of Krekenava, was warned about teaching children catechism.
Skaudvilė (Tauragė Rayon)
June 8, 1984, in the church in Skaudvilė, after services, the pastor, Father Jonas Kauneckas, delivered a catechetical sermon about confession. During the sermon, approaching a confessional, he showed the children how to make their confession, and this was considered a crime.
After the sermon, Executive Committee Secretary (Mrs.) Karosie-nė, and Vice Principal, Mrs. Jancevičienė of the Middle School, came to the sacristy, ostensibly regarding the heating of the church, and summoned Father Kauneckas to the offices of the Executive Committee. Here a warrant was drawn up, indicating that Father Kauneckas taught children religion and organized devotions just for children, because in church, about sixty children and seven women were counted, although there really were more adults in church during services. The women making the check failed to notice more than twenty men and women up in the choir loft. Vice Chairwoman, Mrs. Ulbienė, stated that the report would be presented to the Prosecutor's Office and added to Father Kauneckas' file since, in the words of the vice chairwoman, it was "by just such crimes that the priests A. Svarinskas and S. Tamkevičius began their activities".
On June 6, 1984, Vice Chairman Juozas Urbonas of the Vilkaviškis Rayon Executive Committee entered a building in the Vilkaviškis churchyard. Seeing children gathered for a catechism lesson, Urbonas called Miss Genovaitė Paliaukaitė out into the churchyard, and ordered her to go home immediately (Miss Paliaukaitė lives in Kapsukas), and not to show up any more. The Vice Chairman warned the girl that for teaching children catechism, she would be tried in criminal court.
Going to the rectory, Urbonas demanded that group instruction of children for First Communion be discontinued. The pastor, Father Juozas Preikšas, and Associate Pastor Father Vytautas Gustaitis, explained that it was not possible (for lack of time) to question the children one by one, and they did not consider it any crime if the children gathered in small groups of forty or more, so their grasp of the material could be tested. To Urbonas' statement that Miss Paliaukaitė had no right to teach children religion, and could be brought to trial, Associate Pastor Gustaitis responded that in such a case, he would catechize the children himself: the teaching would not be discontinued. (On November 16, 1984, Father Juozas Preikšas was designated by Pope John Paul II as Assistant Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Kaunas and the Diocese of Vilkaviškis, assisting Bishop Liudvikas Povilonis, who was named archbishop at that time. — Trans. Note)
After the visit of Vice Chairman Urbonas, committees of teachers tried to get into the churchyard. When this failed, the teachers met children who were coming to church at the churchyard gates, where they counted them, took down their names and threatened them. After the visit of Vice Chairman Urbonas, committees of teachers tried to get into the churchyard. When this failed, the teachers met children who were coming to church at the churchyard gates, where they counted them, took down their names and threatened them.
To: The Council of Ministers of the Lithuanian SSR The Executive Committee of the Klaipėda Rayon
From: Parents and Faithful of the Parish of Gargždai, Klaipėda Rayon
On June 5 of this year, we brought our children to church before evening services, so that the priest might hear their prayers individually, for admission to their first Confession and Holy Communion. Into the church came three women, who told the priest that the Executive Committee had sent them, and that they were going to file a complaint because he had opened a school in the church. They immediately began to take charge in church: All three of them rushed up to the children, looking inquisitively to identify them, questioning and counting them. The children were frightened: some of them tried to hide when they spotted their teacher.
The mothers and grandmothers became frightened, along with the children. The investigators made rude remarks and began on the spot to write up the complaint. Some of the mothers were heard to say, "We brought them and will continue to do so. Don't interfere with the quiz!" But the "new church administration" attacked them even more vehemently and raised such a furor that it recalled to mind the massacre in the church of Kražiai where the Czar's powerful Cossacks fell upon unarmed women.
The voices of the women were heard in self-defense: "Get out of here!" The frightened children, meanwhile, watched intently to see how everything would turn out. Finally, the three intruders approached the priest and introduced themselves: Mrs. Jadvyga Siurplienė, Secretary of the Executive Committee: Mrs. Rūta Raudienė and Mrs. Jūratė Dapkevičienė, a teacher. Then, taking their complaint with them, they left.
We protest most strenuously such actions in church by these women. They took over in church, terrorized our children and us, caused a terrible row and interfered with the questioning of the children.
They could have done without the senseless attacks by remaining calm and writing their report.
They transgressed Article 50 of the LSSR Constitution. "The Church is separated from the state," since they assumed authority in church and caused a disturbance.
They made up the idea of "school" without any basis: The children's knowledge must be checked by questioning them. This is the priest's duty. Otherwise, he has no right to admit them to the sacraments. He had the full right to deliver a catechetical sermon in which the truths of religion are explained, and parents have the full right to take their children to church: this is what the mothers do.
The mere fact that quite a few children assemble simultaneously does not constitute a school. The priests do not have the time to be occupied with the children all day long, since they have other work as well, so they set a time for testing the children. When many children come to church at the same time, surely he does not have to chase them from church and let them in one by one for questioning? That would be absurd! It is quicker and easier to question all of them together. It is impossible to teach them just in church, so even if one wanted, one could not create a school in church. Hence in Poland, in Hungary and in the German Democratic Republic, they teach children religion in the parish hall throughout the year. Even though it is the same Communism, there the Directive of Lenin is applied correctly: Religion is not taught in school (that is, the Church is separated from the school).
That is how the whole world understands it. Hence, according to Lenin's principle, we too should have the right to teach children religion in church throughout the year: but the Executive Committee of Gargždai persecutes people just for questioning the children. Is this not blind atheistic fanaticism, which would like to crush religion by force? Where is the law saying that the children's knowledge can only be tested, and one must scrupulously avoid uttering a single word of instruction, because this would be "school"? Is this not absurd?
For nine years in our church the children were questioned in this way, and no one said a word. Now the Executive Committee of the City of Gargždai seems to have promulgated a new law and is blindly carrying it out. This only riles the believing public and sets it against the government. Is this sensible?
The Executive Committee of the City of Gargždai does not see what it really should see: For several years now, we have been trying to raise the roof of our church — a barracks — so that we might have enough air and light. But it pays no attention to the fact that residents of the city suffer for want of air, especially during the summer.
We ask you most urgently to defend us, our children and the Church from similar terrorist attacks in the future, so that we might avail ourselves of the religious freedom which the Soviet Constitution guarantees.
On June 8, the terrorizing was repeated: When the mothers brought their children before services for the priest to question them and to obtain a card for First Communion, the same three women hurried to church, this time accompanied by three men. Without saying anything, they immediately began photographing the priest, the children and the mothers. The flashbulb kept going off like lightening. Everyone became confused and frightened, especially the children. Among the men was the district chairman, the director of education cadres and a photographer. The mothers began defending their children. While "those in charge" had their way, a disturbance and argument arose and frightened children began to shout, "Get out of here!" Finally they left.
Save us and our children from terrorization, defend our freedom of conscience and that of our children. The Church is separated from the state, and government officials in Gargždai interfere in church and terrorize the faithful. Hurry to help us!
Signed by: 413 Faithful of the Parish of Gargždai
Gargždai. June 8, 1984
Gargždai (Klaipėda Rayon)
On July 30, 1984, while the parish priest of Gargždai was questioning the children about the catechism before church, the investigators came into church fro the third time. This time, it was the secretary of the Communist Youth League and two of her assistants. At that time, the priest was questioning a thirty-year-old unmarried woman whether she knew everything necessary for first Confession. The Communist Youth League Secretary insisted that such questioning constituted instruction. The mothers in church retorted, "We teach the children ourselves, and we brought them to be tested." They asked the uninvited guests to leave the church. The latter, having written up a report that the priest was teaching seventy-five children religion, left.
Two months later, on August 14, A. Leita, Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Klaipėda Rayon, in response to the June 8, 1984 written protest of the parishioners of Gargždai, summoned the parish organist (whose address had been given as return address), and in the presence of a uniformed militiaman, stated, "If you write libelous statements to the government and collect signatures under them, we will take measures." The organist tried to explain, "If government officials don't act like hooligans in church, no one will write such letters or collect signatures."
Vice Chairman Leita interrupted the organist, saying: "We brought you here, not to have a discussion, but to respond to your petition. You will get no other answer."
To: The LSSR Ministry for Internal Affairs
From: Father Antanas Šeškevičius, son of Kazys Pastor of Mikoliškiai Residing at Gargždai, Tiltol — 2
It was necessary to replace the decaying cross in the churchyard at Mikoliškiai, so as pastor I requested communal farm worker Griušis to make a new one. He agreed, and made one from material allotted to him for fuel. Although I offered him money, he would not take it, and made it an offering to the church.
When on November 25, 1983, we were taking it to Mikoliškiai, the Klaipėda Rayon Traffic Police demanded to see the authorization for the wood. Since I did not have it, they confiscated the cross and took it away to the Klaipėda Rayon Militia Headquarters in Gargždai. At Griušis' place, the militia, together with the representative of the financial section, searched for a workshop, but did not find any. Grisius showed them an axe and a plane with which he worked on the cross. Nevertheless, a few days later, they fined him 10 rubles for making the cross. The old man paid the fine.
Since the cross was confiscated by Inspector Grimalis, I explained the origin of the cross to him in writing and asked him to return it. He kept demanding the authorization for the wood. I asked the elderly pensioner, Grisius to provide a written explanation about the lumber. I had nowhere else to turn. He explained in writing that in October, Forest Warden Martinaitis assigned him wood from the Department of Health Forest Preserve, for fuel. From a piece of seasoned oak, he made the cross.
When I presented this paper to the Chief of the Militia, he demanded a written statement also from Forest Warden Martinaitis. The latter also explained that in October, he had given Griušas, just like other collective farm workers, fuel from the Department of Health Preserve. When I presented that paper to the Chief of the Militia, he was still not satisfied with the school-boy note-passing, and promised to make inquiries of the communal farm administration. And so he did. As far as I know, the forest warden told him the same. Inspector Grimalis told me that he would not return the cross, which was already inventoried.
In connection with this matter, I went to the Klaipėda Rayon Executive Committee. They explained to me that the militia had acted illegally, confiscating the cross and fining communal worker Griušas: From his own material, he was allowed to make a cross and give it away. When Inspector Grimalis demanded to see the permit for erecting the cross, an inquiry was made of Religious Affairs Commissioner Petras Anilionis, and he explained that no permit was necessary to replace the rotting cross.
Crosses should be made by the carpenter, the deputy explained to the faithful during his visit to Gargždai. Since carpenters on collective farms do not make crosses, I had to make my own arrangements. After all, that is the only way to obtain a cross, even when it is allowed to be erected.
Hence I urgently request that you use your good offices with the Internal Affairs Division (Militia) of the Klaipėda Rayon to return the cross which has been confiscated from the church of Mikoliškiai illegally, and with the financial department to recompense communal farm worker Griušis the unjustly levied fine.
Father Antanas Šeškevičius
Gargždai, February 1, 1984 (In 1970 - 1971. Father Antanas Šeškevičius served one year in prison for teaching children catechism. See Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, No. 1 — Trans. Note)
To: The LSSR Ministry of Internal Affairs
From: Father Antanas Šeškevičius, Pastor of Mikoliškiai Residing at Gargždai, Tilto 1 - 2
I am very grateful for your action regarding the return of the cross seized by the militia. Upon receipt of your letter, Vice Chairman A. Leita of the Klaipėda Rayon Executive Committee, together with Chief Ananyev of the Internal Affairs Division informed me that they will not return the cross, but merely reimburse me for the lumber, which has been given to the Communal Division.
"I need the cross, not the money," I answered them.
The Chief of the Communal Division explained that the cross has already been cut up, and that he would reimburse me 40 rubles and 70 kopeks. I asked him at least to return the pieces, saying that we would try to re-assemble them. He told me that to do so, he needed the permission of the militia, but that he could pay me the money immediately. I refused.
The court says that full restitution should be made for damages done, but they just mocked me: Even though they have admitted doing wrong, they do not wish to pay damages. After all, it costs at least 150 rubles to make such a cross.
Moreover, the administrative commission and the financial division fined the retired communal farm worker 10 rubles because from his own material, he made a single cross as a gift to the church. They themselved did wrong: as the militia officials became excited, they accused the little old man of full-time trade. So for every favor done, one must now be fined. Is that not absurd? If a carpenter will not make crosses, then someone has to. Where is the law saying that a special permit is needed to make a cross?
The cross is the Christian banner. Cutting up a cross means insulting Christians, of whom there are more than a billion in the world. What if someone cut up the Soviet flag? All Communists would be very angry, and the word would get around the world. Perhaps this harsh attack will also resound throughout the world, since it was perpetrated during the Year of Redemption, when Christians honor the cross especially. Do such attacks serve Communism well? Lithuania is famous as the Land of Crosses. Will Catholics not be angered by the destruction of crosses? It is, after all, an attack and an insult upon the whole nation, breaking centuries-old traditions.
You would go a long way toward making reparation for this attack by using your influence with militia and the executive committee to make complete amends for the damage done: so that in place of the cross cut up into six pieces, it would be possible to make a new one just like it. Besides, let the administrative committee and the financial section revoke the unjust fine levied on pensioner Griušis, and let them return his 10 rubles. They acted unjustly and unwisely, rushing to cut up that cross, since the whole time I was raising the issue of its return.
If you do not straighten out the matter, I will be forced to appeal to higher tribunals, even to Moscow. I tnist that this will not be
Father A. Šeškevičius
Gargždai, February 22, 1984
Note: On April 26, 1984, J. Griušis, a resident of Klaipeda Rayon, Village of Siupariai, addressed a petition to the Klaipeda Rayon Executive Committee, demanding the return of a fine unjustly levied on him and already paid. In his petition, Griušis remarks, "That an injustice has been committed, even the Ministry of Internal Affairs has confirmed, ordering that restitution be made for damage committed .. ."
No one replied to Griušis' petition, nor was the fine refunded. Klaipeda
In 1984, as signatures were being collected on the petition demanding the return of the Church of the Queen of Peace in Klaipeda (See Chronicle No. 63), militia and security agents began in various ways to terrorize those collecting signatures, taking away from them their texts, preventing them by force from gathering signatures and frightening them. The faithful are angered by such acts on the part of officials: "... We appeal to our own government, and not anywhere else. Could it be that they have forbidden us to ask the redress of wrongs?"
A reply has recently been received from Moscow, saying that in place of the church which has been confiscated, believers are allowed to enlarge the existing church. The faithful do not agree to such an offer: Expansion of the church is impossible, since it does not have the necessary foundation. During the renovation, believers would have to vacate. Talk is going around that they should be offered the use of the parish church of Plikiai, 13 km from Klaipėda. Such an offer is arousing unrest among the faithful of Klaipėda: they took away the church erected with the money and labor of the faithful. What can one expect of the new offer? Will we not all be left withoat a church?
Every evening, the faithful of the church in Klaipėda ask Mary's intercession in the rosary to help them regain their confiscated church.
Žarėnai - Latveliai (Šiaulių Rayon)
During the night of June 22 - 23, 1984, the historical cemetery of the serf-martyrs in the parish of Žarėnai-Latveliai was completely destroyed. People call them Agailiai, Kerbedžiai or Meilaičiai. The first time this cemetery in the middle of the Forest of Agailiai was vandalized and leveled to the ground was on September 8, 1975. Votive crosses used to be erected here, requesting or thanking God for favors. Amid the crosses stood a chapel with a capacity of about one hundred, an altar, confessionals, stations of the cross and pictures on the walls. The chapel was never locked.
Once a year, on Pentecost, services were held there. On the aforesaid date, militia officials guarded the roads, while others destroyed everything: Using bulldozers, they wrecked the chapel and pushed sections of the cement walls into trenches and covered them over, leaving a bare clearing. After this vandalism, people began again to erect crosses. A beautiful statue of Mary was put up, with the inscription, "Loving Mother, we pray to you for mothers, that you would help them bring their children to God, and to keep their families in unity. Good Mother, obtain a happy death for us, pray for dying sinners."
The people also erected a wayside shrine, in the niche of which were fastened pictures of Jesus and Mary. In all, about one hundred crosses were erected, and around the crosses, on iron posts, were placed the stations of the Way of the Cross. This year, on the Feast of the Ascension, there was an especially large number of people gathered here: two priests participated. The Pastor of Kruopiai, Father Romualdas Žulpa and Father Algirdas Pakamanis, Pastor of Žarėnai-Latveliai.
During the second vandalization of the cemetery, the atheists used cranes, demolishing all the crosses, the shrine and the statues. They wrecked everything, piled the debris into a truck, and at dawn, took it 33 km away, not far from Tryškiai (Telšiai Rayonį). The iron crosses and everything incombustible, they threw into the swamp in the
Forest of Lilėnai. The wooden crosses, confessional, wooden statues, stations and pieces of the shrine, they piled up, covered with tree branches, and burned.
In an effort to hide their barbaric work, they brought a few truck-loads of sand, and covered over the crosses thrown into the swamp. This year the atheists not only destroyed everything, but also chopped down the trees around the site of the former cemetery, filled in the well (during the second vandalization, the atheists did not spare even the well, which they had left the first time, leveling everything so that no trace would remain of the former cemetery. Along the roads to the cemetery, they erected signs banning traffic, which government officials guarded for a long time, terrorizing everyone who wished to visit the desecrated cemetery. The people, with aching hearts, say, "Our grandparents revered the Cemetery of Meilačiai, and erected crosses here. This did not bother even the cruel czar — the Soviet terrorists have outdone them all!"
After the desecration of the cemetery, mourning services were arranged in the parish church of Žarėnai-Latveliai. The pastor, Father Pakamanis, and the faithful, holding small crosses tied with black ribbons, and singing hymns processed around the church on their knees asking God's forgiveness for all in our nation who cannot tolerate crosses, wrecking and destroying them.
Rel igious Affairs Commissioner Petras Anilionis warned Father Pakamanis in writing through the Vice Chairman of the Šiauliai Rayon Executive Committee, accusing him of inciting the faithful against the atheists. Father Pakamanis would not acknowledge the warning in writing.
On August 20, 1984, in Utena, they commemorated the tenth anniversary of the death of Father Petras Rauda, who had once been Vice Rector of the Kaunas Seminary, principal of Utena High School and pastor of the parish. Father Rauda died at the age of eighty, having spent eighteen of those years imprisoned in harsh conditions. In his old age, he lost his sight. (Father Rauda was cared for in his last days by Nijolė Sadūnaitė, later imprisoned for involvement with the Chronicle, and currently in hiding. — Trans. Note)
At 1:00 PM, in a church packed with people, and with forty priests in attendance, Holy Mass was concelebrated by the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Vilnius, Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius: the Administrator of the Diocese of Panevėžys, Monsignor Kazimieras Dulksnys and a group of priest-friends of the deceased.
The sermon in church, recalling the glowing memory of Father Rauda, and his optimism in the difficult conditions of occupation, was delivered by his comrade in suffering, Father J. Balčiūnas. At the grave of Father Rauda, Bishop Steponavičius, recalling the difficult but meaningful life of Father Rauda, said, " . . .some in difficult conditions tremble like the leaves of an aspen, others, like reeds in the wind, and still others stand strong and immovable as oaks . . ." Among the latter, the Bishop placed Father Rauda. In his talk, Bishop Steponavičius recalled Father Rauda's zeal, steadfastness and courage.
On July 2, 1984, Father Pranciškus Bastys, emeritus priest at the parish of Ukmergė, died. Father Bastys came from the Jurbarkas Rayon, the parish of Skirsnemunė, where the relatives of the deceased wanted to bury him, alongside his parents. The late Father Bastys was beloved by his parishioners, and most of them wanted to participate in the funeral of their priest. The Funeral Bureau promised to reserve two automobiles from the motor pool. The next day, the money was returned because allegedly the KGB had forbidden the accomodation of believers. The bureau directress was warned not to get involved with the KGB. The believers then hurried to the Ukmergė Office of General Services. Those in charge promised to provide transportation, and wrote out a receipt: but for some reason or other, they requested that the visitors make direct arrangements with the driver.
The next day, the dispatcher tore up the order and retorted. "We don't serve church people!" Why? It seems that on July 4, a group of the faithful had ordered an automobile through the Office of General Services, to take them to Žemaičių Kalvarija. (A popular religious shrine — Trans. Note) The militia guarding the roads had stopped the people from Ukmergė, and had ordered the driver and the passengers to go back. When the automobile doors were opened, the pilgrims scattered; and the driver, after being required to fill out a form of several pages, had disobeyed the orders of the militia officers, deciding to wait for the people and so further angering the militia and KGB.
Of course, word of this incident reached the Ukmergė Militia Department, and the Director of General Services, so the automobiles for the funeral of Father Bastys were cancelled. The faithful then applied to the Ukmergė Reinforced Concrete Factory. They were told. "There are automobiles, but we are afraid of the security organs!" The people then tried their luck with the Paliepė Reconditioning Factory. They replied. "Gladly if it weren't a priest's funeral!"
The parishioners accompanied the remains of Father Bastys in their own automobiles. During the funeral services in church, one woman fainted. The people summoned an ambulance, but the nurse on duty sarcastically said, "The ambulance does make church calls!"
Kybartai (Vilkaviškis Rayon)
Visitors to the tomb of Father Virgilijus Jaugelis in Kybartai, Lithuania.
On April 29, 1984, in the church of Kybartai, the third anniversary of the death of Father Virgilijus Jaugelis was being commemorated. This date has already become traditional. At Mass, not only is Father Jaugelis, of venerable memory, prayed for and commemorated, but also all priest-martyrs who have sacrificed their lives for God and country. Even though April 29 was proclaimed a work day, nevertheless, the believing youth and adults who gathered from the four corners of Lithuania actively participated in the solemn services. Meaningful sermons were preached by Father Ričardas Rebšys and Father Jonas Boruta, urging the faithful in this difficult period for the church in the history of our country not to get confused and especially to develop in virtue. After Mass, the priests and all the faithful gathered to pray at the grave of Father Virgilijus Jaugelis. After they had prayed for the deceased and sung the Angelus, the hymn, Marija, Marija, so well-beloved by the faithful, rose to the skies.
On May 7, 1984, in the church of Kybartai, prayers were recited for Father Sigitas Tamkevičius, the Pastor of Kybartai, arrested a year earlier. Holy Mass was concelebrated by eleven priests. Sermons were preached by the pastor of the parish of Linkmenai. Father Jonas Lauriūnas, and the pastor of Pociūnėlė, Father Antanas Jokubauskas. In the sermons, the meaning of the sacrifice and sufferings of Father Tamkevičius was recalled. Mass was followed by the Way of the Cross led by Father Jonas Kauneckas.
Ryliškės (Alytus Rayon)
In 1953, the church in Ryli.škės burned down. The government would not allow it to be rebuilt.
On June 17, 1984, as Father Petras Krikščiukaitis was on his way to the Cemetery of Reliškės to offer Mass, he was hailed in the Village of Makniūnai by a militiaman who had been drinking. Next to him were two Volgas, in which KGB agents sat. Father Krikščiukaitis did not stop. When he arrived at the cemetery, the same militiaman caught up to him, and KGB agents demanded his papers, but the priest refused. The officials wanted to remove the priest's license plates, but people surrounded the car and would not allow them to do so. On succeeding Sundays, militiamen again waited for the priest to arrive: but when he did not come, they left.
On July 1, Vice Chairman Makštutis of the Alytus Rayon Executive Committee himself rode about not far from the Ryliškės village cemetery, where Holy Mass used to be offered, and waited for the priest. That day, the priest reached the cemetery somewhat later.
On June 28, 1984, during services in the church at Kaišiadorys, in which plants and families with young children were blessed, unknown malefactors desecrated the crucifix hanging over a religious display, by taking it down from the wall and throwing it into a scrub bucket.
Čiobiškis (Širvintai Rayon)
During the night of July 14 -15,1984, the church in Čiobiškis was robbed. The thieves broke open the church and sacristy doors with a drill. They took the tabernacle crucifix from the high altar, and all the vessels and a paten from the sacristy safe. They did not touch the Blessed Sacrament, even though before the devotions, the Blessed Sacrament was in a monstrance unsecured. In the opinion of many, this was not a random burglary; the thieves were determined that after their "foray", there should be no services of reparation which only serve to strengthen the people's bonds with the Church. By such burglaries, the priests whom the government terms "extremists" are being urged to allow an inventory to be taken of church property ("leased by the government to believers").
On February 13, 1984, the pastor of Šakiai, the Rev. Dean Juozas Žemaitis, transported from Šiluva to Šakiai a small statue of Mary presented to the persecuted faithful of Lithuania by the Catholics of Ireland, which he himself had brought back from Ireland. (See Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, No. 57 — Trans. Note) Temporarily, he placed it in his parish church, where everyone prayed fervently, especially the youth. The pastor explained the history of the statuette of Mary to the people.
On February 23, Father Žemaitis took the statuette of Mary to Vilnius, to Father Lidys, so that the latter might see to its repair. (Father Stasys Lidys, administrator of the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Vilnius, is the only one licensed to make religious goods in Lithuania. — Trans. Note) Commissioner for Religious Affairs Petras Anilionis became interested in the chain of events. That very day, he scolded the pastor of Šiluva, Father Vaclovas Grauslys, by phone, for letting the statue be brought from the church at Šiluva. In a very angry voice, Anilionis spoke also to Bishop Liudvikas Povilonis, and warned Father Lidys not to try to reproduce the statuette of Mary. On March 10, the restored statuette of Mary was brought to Šakiai, and on the 13, to Šiluva.
On February 1, 1984, the pastor of the parish of Šakiai, Dean Juozas Žemaitis, and the Associate Pastor, Father Vytautas Insoda, were summoned to the Šakiai Rayon Executive Committee. Only the pastor, Father Žemaitis, went. Executive Committee Vice Chairwoman Kasperavičienė, arguing that the church had been used for other than worship, reprimanded the pastor, Father Žemaitis, for
Father Stasys Lidys celebrating Mass at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Vilnius.
showing a videotape of the life of Christ after services in church. The pastor explained that in place of Vespers in church that day, the religious film had been shown to the faithful; therefore, neither he nor his associate had committed any offense. Vice Chairwoman Kasperavičienė wanted to know the source of the film, and warned against similar incidents in the future. Mrs. Kasperavičienė scolded the pastor for the parish children's and youth choir, altar servers and adorers of the Blessed Sacrament. She claimed that all this was forbidden. Father Žemaitis explained that there is no longer any such word as "forbidden", because when they were briefing him to go to Germany and England, they told him that if anyone abroad asked about religion, the situation of believers in the Soviet and the scope of their activities (for example, the teaching of religion to children, young people serving at the altar, or in adoration groups, or singing in the church choir), he was not to use the word "cannot". When these very questions were raised abroad, and he replied that in the Soviet Union children serve Mass and sing in the choir, the heads of delegations hearing it said, "Well spoken!". To Father Žemaitis' statement, Vice Chairwoman Kasparavičienė had no reply, but only repeated that the Associate Pastor, Vytautas Insoda, should come to the Executive Committee offices.
May 5 -15, 1984, the KGB interrogated the following women who worked around the church or went there often: Mrs. Mockuvienė, Miss Marija Melynauskaitė, Miss Stasė Činskytė and others. The purpose of the interrogation was to prevent the celebration of the Saint John's Eve, or Joninės with the traditional bonfires, songs and refreshments. The women, surprised, asked, "Why are they forbidding it, if the rayon newspaper encourages this tradition? Last year, they carried a long article, urging everyone to light Saint John's fires and to revive other traditions in connection with Saint John's Eve.
On June 18, 1984, the Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Petras Anilionis, telephoned Bishop Antanas Vaičius and Liudvikas Povilonis, warning them: "Young people are preparing to celebrate Jonines near Telšiai and Kaunas. Warn the priests not to participate. The KGB will take care of the youth."
On June 20, 1984, the pastor of Eigirdžiai, Father Ferdinandas Žilys, was summoned to the Telšiai KGB Subdivision, and accused of planning a celebration of Saint John's Eve in his parish. The priest was told that on Saint John's Eve, there must not be any services in the church he ministers to.
On June 22, Bronius Savickis, the sexton of the church in Viešvėnai, was interrogated by the Telšiai KGB. "What kind of services are going to take place in the church in Viešvėnai June 23?" the chekists inquired. "At eleven o'clock, we'll have an anniversary Mass, and during the evenings in June, the faithful always gather and pray privately. Is this forbidden?" the sexton replied. The KGB wanted to know whether Father Jonas Kauneckas was coming to the services, whether he visited Viešvėnai frequently and why the church was hung with wreaths. The sexton explained that the prior Sunday, there was a priest's first Mass in church, and that was why it was decorated.
On June 23,1984, local residents and all those travelling to Telšiai were surprised to see the roads full of traffic police. Every five minutes, a police carwent by. In the bus station at Telšiai, militiamen were on duty, the hills of the surrounding area were surrounded by militia officers, and at every country road were patrols of militia and traffic police.
Two young men, Faustas Meiženis and Gintautas Petryla, were detained at the hill in the Village of Šakaliai. The militia ordered them to depart immediately; otherwise, things could end badly. In the woods near Viešvėnai, militiamen dispersed children weaving wreaths, even from the bushes. That day, the guard at Panų Kalnas was reinforced, and in the Reiniai Woods, a polygon of soldiers was deployed.
In the evening, there were more KGB agents in church than faithful. The chekists asked women going to church whether Father Kauneckas visited the parish often. The KGB also had the evening services in the Cathedral of Telšiai under surveillance, and the introductory remarks by Canon Jonas Beinorius. As the procession was passing, one usher approached them and said, "Please kneel. We stand during the National Anthem."
"Leave us alone!" the KGB agent angrily retorted.
Viešvėnai resident Kalakauskas was celebrating a baptism. When the guests had grown mellow, they lit the Saint John's Eve bonfire; and immediately, the militia showed up. The militia stood watch at the stations all night. Women on their way to milk cows at 5:00 AM, taking pity, spoke to them. The Telšiai Traffic Police and militia were assisted by officers from Kelmė, Šiauliai and Vilnius. And still the hills around Telšiai and Viešvėnai glowed with bonfires.
Kaunas ethnographers were preparing to celebrate Saint John's Eve very elaborately. Over four hundred people actively involved in the program were supposed to participate. The national circulation magazine, Jaunimo gretos (The Ranks of Youth) devoted two whole pages to a report on the lyric quality of this holiday. On the evening of June 22, national television reminded viewers of the beautiful traditions connected with Saint John's Eve, saying that Lithuanians could be proud of them. However, the propaganda was a far cry from the reality: The celebration of Saint John's Eve near Kaunas was suppressed. On Rambynas Hill, the traditional celebration of Saint John's Eve did not take place either: During the day, a Soviet youth day was arranged, and in the evening, the participants had to disperse without the traditional Saint John's Eve bonfires.
Leipalingis (Lazdijai Rayon)
To: The Editors of the Central Asia Military District Daily, Kovos Vėliava (Battle Flag)
From: Robertas Grigas, son of Antanas Lithuania, Lazdijai Rayon, Liepalingis, Naujosios 13
From 1982 - 1984, I paid my "dues": Two years of my life in a labor battalion at the Badam Base, Kazakh. Being a Catholic, and unable to reconcile fidelity to my conscience and fidelity to the atheistic state, I refused to take the military oath. I thank God that in spite of physical and moral terrorization, I stuck to this principle until the end, and this has been recorded on my military identification. However, my "educators" would not give up, and determined at least to calumniate me.
In the fifty-third issue of your daily this year, an article appeared entitled, "In a Unified Family", in which a cynical lie is propagated. It says there that being a believer up to the time I was called up, I supported jingoism and ideas dreamt up by the clergy regarding the restriction of Constitutional rights, but that in the army, I "regained my sight".
This is a downright lie. I was a Catholic and a Lithuanian until I was called up. I remained so during the two years of my compulsory service, and I still am now that I have returned to my homeland, Lithuania. The facts which I used to come ap against constantly in the army strengthened my views greatly. Here are just a few such examples from personal experience:
The USSR has signed the Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 of which states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression . . ." As a matter of fact, I exercised this right sleeping on a bare frame in the military stockade at Chimkent, and on an asphalt floor at Kzyl-Orda, just because, on the grounds of my religious and national beliefs, I refused to swear allegiance to the Communist Party. Disregarding Article 52 of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of conscience, staff members of the political section threatened me at the end of my tour of duty with five years in prison if I did not change my attitude towards the oath. Both the Constitution and the Helsinki Final Act demand respect for the dignity of every person, and forbid ridiculing beliefs. With Communist officers using unprintable words, ridiculing religion and Lithuanian ethnicity. I decided that the demands of humanitarian-ism here are still terra incognita (unknown territory). And when they used to order those unable to fulfill their work quota to be exercised wearing gasmasks — I quote! — "Until they lose consciousness"— then I understood how true were the words: "When God is rejected, there is nothing left of the human being."
With deep gratitude I recall all the decent people who helped me to know the Truth of Christ. I am proud of my nation's heroes, Fathers Sigitas Tamkevičius and Alfonsas Svarinskas, presently suffering in the camps of Perm, just because they taught the faithful of Lithuania to live conscientiously. I thank Divine Providence for letting me be a contemporary of these great people.
In your article, published in the newspaper, there is a blatant lie claiming that I praised to the soldiers the advances in Lithuania under the Soviet government, that in the presence of "warmongers", I explained the meaning of friendship with the Russian nation. I never did pay homage to these so-called advantages. What do they mean in comparison with the damages in the area of morality, culture and human rights? I did not speak of any kind of friendship with our neighbor to the East, since I have never noticed it, neither in history, nor now. On the contrary, in my statements about the role of the "great Russian nation" in the history of Lithuania, I used to emphasize the demoralizing side of russification. I used to accent the meaning of spiritual resistance such as that of the book smugglers in the struggle for freedom for the Lithuanians. In two years spent in Kazakh, I never used the expressions which the aforesaid article attributes to me. If you have any respect for your own world view, you are bound to retract the libel.