THE RESPONSE TO PETITIONS BY THE FAITHFUL
On April 6, 1973, to the home of Julius Rudys in Steponiškis Village arrived Ilicevičius, an agent of the Miežiškiai Locality police, [Mrs.] R. Smetonienė, chairman of the locality, and Glebavičius and P. Drilinga, workers from the Nevėžis Collective Farm, and one unidentified official.
Smetonienė and Ilicevičius demanded that Rudienė surrender the signed petitions in her possession (see the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, no. 6) threatening that if she did not give them up they would ransack the house. Hoping to avoid a search, Rudienė surrendered the petitions bearing forty signatures, among them those of the Rudys family. The uninvited "guests" presented Rudienė with a summons to appear at the Panevėžys security committee office on April 7. Here she was interrogated by the same "unidentified" official who had been present during the raid at her home. Rudienė was questioned as to who had given her the texts of those petitions. The interrogator told her that this was all nonsense because it interfered with the nurturing of children. He threatened to revoke her parental rights and to make her children wards of the state. Showing her the signed petitions, the interrogator asked Rudienė to name the signers whose signatures were illegible.
A week later Rudienė was again questioned by the security committee about the source of the petitions. The interrogator threatened to start criminal proceedings against her for defaming the Soviet government if she did not reveal where she had obtained the texts of the petitions.
To the office of the locality's Soviet of Working People's Deputies were summoned eleventh-class students from the secondary school in Miežiškiai [Miss] E. Skrebytė and [Miss] J. Rudytė. Their signatures were checked. Skrebytė was asked whether she was a friend of Rudytė, whether strange priests ever visited the Rudys home, and whether they prayed together. Rudytė was asked who had given her mother the petitions, whether strange priests visited their home, whether Father K. Balsys, pastor of the parish in Miežiškiai, had been there recently, and what priests say during confession. They explained to Rudytė that her mother was a fanatic and that she, her daughter, must re-educate her, and ask her to admit who had given her those petitions.
On May 23 J. Vilutis, the interrogator from the LSSR Procurator's Office who handles the most important cases, with Ilicevičius, an agent of the police, and two security men, made a search of the Rudys home. The search lasted three hours, during which time holy pictures of the statue of the Blessed Mother of Šiluva and those commemorating the first mass of Father Sungaila, together with the addresses of relatives of the Rudys family were seized. Following the search, Rudienė was taken away to the security committee building. During her interrogation, samples of her handwriting and signatures were taken while she was sitting, standing, and even stooping. Interrogator Vilutis asked her where she had obtained the petitions and whether she had any acquaintances among the monks or nuns. She was again threatened with prison and told that her daughter would not be allowed to complete the secondary school or else would receive a bad characterization in her school records if she failed to divulge the desired information.
Also questioned were Rudienė's husband and even their eleven-year-old son, Stasys. The lad was asked whether any strange men called at their home, whether he believed in God, whether he knew his prayers, and why he hadn't joined the Pioneers.
Valaitis, manager of the local state farm; [Mrs.] J. Kalačiovienė, third secretary of the Panevėžys Rayon Communist party; Tėvynė [Fatherland] editor Kancė; and several other people called at the homes of those who had signed the petitions addressed to the LSSR Ministry of Public Education and to K. Tumėnas, commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs. The callers upbraided the people for having signed the petitions and asked to be shown any prayer books or rosaries in their posession. If they saw religious pictures hanging on the walls, they asked where and how their owners had obtained them. The signers were also asked whether they attend church and whether they perform their Easter Duty. The persons who answered in the affirmative, they called uneducated and backward to their faces.
A. Šukys, chairman of the Miežiškiai Parochial Committee, was censured for failing to see what was going on in the church, and for failing to report to the authorities that signatures were being solicited.
[Mrs.] Gritenienė treated the callers to some snacks.
"Why do you offer us refreshments, for we are your enemies?"
"Our religion teaches us to love even our enemies," the woman replied.
The Turauskas children were asked whether they knew the tenets of their faith. The children gave an excellent recital of everything they knew. The officials then tried to shame the parents by saying they were backward.
"As long as we are alive our children will be the same. All of us will fulfill our religious obligations," the Turauskases declared.
The officials wanted to carry off Misijų metraštis [Missions Annual] from one of the homes, but the son, a recent graduate, chased after the departing visitors and took it back.
[Mrs.] J. Pinigienė was questioned for a long time concerning the signatures and was repeatedly forced to sign her name—while seated, while standing, and even with the paper placed on the floor—for the officials wanted in the worst way to prove that most of the signatures were forgeries.
The apartment of [Mrs.] E. Svirelienė, an inspector of the finance department of the city of Panevėžys, was raided on May 24, 1973. Since the lady was undergoing treatment at the Druskininkai Sanatorium at the time of the raid, her daughter Irma was asked to be present during the two-hour search. The raiders took with them a leaflet listing the intentions of the Living Rosary Society, Tihamėr Toth's book, Jaunuolio būdas [The character of a youth] produced by a copier, and a photograph of Svirelienė. [Miss] Svirelytė was questioned. Does she read religious books? Who visits her mother? To what religious organizations does her mother belong? Do they go to church often? Had she seen the petitions with the signatures? Had her mother asked her to sign? She was threatened that criminal charges would be brought against her mother.
A search was also made at Svirelienė's place of employment, but the searchers found nothing incriminating. On May 25, Interrogator J. Vilutis went to Svirelienė's room at the Druskininkai Sanatorium and searched through her belongings, confiscating several letters.
After she returned from the sanatorium, E. Svirelienė was questioned by the security committee, who was trying to determine where she had obtained the petitions and to whom she had given the signed copies. The interrogator tried to frighten her by saying that she would be dismissed from her position and sentenced. In the beginning of June, Svirelienė's case was considered by the executive committee, and she was charged with attending church and taking part in processions. The "accused" was ordered to "voluntarily" resign from her position, but the courageous woman refused.
In March, 1973, [Miss] V. Grincevičiūtė, a member of the Kaunas cathedral choir, showed some sort of petition to several persons. A security officer called at her apartment on March 29 and began to search it even though he had no warrant from the Procurator's Office. He was looking for the text of the petition which Grincevičiūtė had shown to several people. When he did not find such a text, Grincevičiūtė told him that she had personally written the petition requesting that more copies of the Bible be published. The security committee questioned Grincevičiūtė concerning a number of people and threatened to start criminal proceedings against her.
On another day, again without a search warrant, Grincevičiūtė's apartment was raided and the book Ieškau Tavo veido [I seek Your face] was taken. The occupant was again interrogated as to where she had obtained the text of the petition and on other matters.
A third "examination" of Grinceviciūtė's apartment was performed by security officials on April 2.
On May n, this time with a search warrant, another meticulous search was made of Grincevičiūtė's living quarters and at her place of employment. Even the bathroom tissue was examined. The search was directed by J. Vilutis, the interrogator from the LSSR Procurator's Office who handles the most important cases. Its aim was to confiscate any literature criticizing the Soviet government and the texts of the circulated petitions. To their consternation, the searchers could not find any petitions nor any literature vilifying the Soviet government. They did take all the addresses, notes, letters, and postcards that they found, together with several publications, among them Tragedija Dainavos Šalyje[Tragedy in the land of Dainava]. During the interrogation Grincevičiūtė was confronted with cathedral organist Beinorius, who testified that she had shown him the text of the petition addressed to the LSSR Ministry of Public Education. Grincevičiūtė denied the validity of this testimony.
After numerous interrogations, attempts at blackmail in her place of employment, and threats that she would be convicted, Grincevičiūtė was finally summoned to the Republic's Procurator's Office and advised that a case was not being brought against her, but that the matter might be renewed if she dared to teach religious truths to children.
How much time was wasted, how much malaise had to be endured simply because a citizen had decided to ask the government to publish more copies of the Bible!