Father Jonas Matulionis writes:

"Today is our patronal feast - Saint Casimir. I ask his protection and intercession for everyone... Every place, every corner of our lives, is a gift of God. Frequent searches, underserved accusations, hired sleuths and ter­rorists — their unimaginative attempts to humiliate can do only as much as they are allowed, while the Lord is always with us. I am receiving the newspapers and magazines. The obvious annoyance of one warden does not disturb my spiritual calm. They don't like people who are better informed, better educated, spiritually stronger, readers or thinkers. On February 24, the lieutenant for operations summoned me and told me that they had destroyed a letter contain­ing four reproductions of photographs or lithographs. On the other side was a Lithuanian text. We talked for a good half-hour, and he finally admitted that he could have shown me the pictures and the sender's address.

"Give my regards to those who have returned. Whether I shall return earlier, only God knows. I ask for favors only from the just and merciful Lord, and not from unjust and deceitful man... To all, the graces and blessings of the Sacred Host." (Father Matulionis' sentence was reduced. He was released on November 16,1987. — Trans. Note)

March, 1987

From Father Sigitas Tamkevičius' letter:

"Here we are at the new year. May God grant that this year be in your life, as well as in the life of all people dear to my heart, most meaningful and good. You know that in a prisoner's heart, there are always many different longings. But perhaps my greatest wish is that everyone with whom Providence has brought me into contact along the path of life, would grow in grace and love as did the Infant of Bethlehem.

'This year also, the train of my life rolls on along the same tracks. Monotony, boredom - but there's no lack of that in freedom. It is our duty to open the windows and doors of our heart, and let in Him in whose sight every­thing becomes special and sacred. How valuable is the lesson of Nazareth. Dull days glow with Divine light, if only in that everyday routine we do not lose sight of Him Who called Himself the Light of the World, if with Him we lie down and rise up, work and suffer.

"Sometimes the thought occurs to me: Lord, how long these years are! And there are still so many of them! How tiresome this boredom, how fed up I am with everything, up to here. When will it all end? But no sooner have such thoughts occurred when something in my heart speaks up and reminds me: You have no right to complain. You must always be strong since you have received very much from the Lord, since the prayer of the Church accompanies you as it once accompanied the Apostle Peter... In my prayer I ask the Lord's blessing for those who exemplify Christian love... remembering also the prisoner."

January 1,1987

Povilas Pečeliūnas writes:

"... In my last letter I wrote why, from my youth, I liked Ibsen's Brand. (A freedom fighter - Trans. Note) To sum it up, I liked it because many of the ideas in Brand, were already in my heart. Brand only formulated them more clearly and forcefully, so it would be a mistake to consider me a follower of Brand. After all, it is pleasant when you find in some work thoughts which are already in your heart. So this is one more appendix to Brand.

"Yes, it is difficult to find Danutė at home. She works, and all the rest of the time she devotes to my elderly mother who has not been out of the sickbed for three years, and whose life is sustained only by her boundless long­ing to see me once again.

"... You write 'You have hope!' For one such as I, reality holds not the least grounds for 'hope'. All illusions lead to an absurd 'philosophy'... which you summed up in the aphorism, 'The goat is full and the cabbage is safe.' I know a little bit about philosophy and history, but I never heard of such a case. I have read about the strangest miracles in the book Visų metų šventųjų gyvenimai (Tite Lives of the Saints Throughout the Year). However, I did not find anything com­parable there, either, unless at the time the 'goat', thanks to a 'miracle', felt 'satisfied'. But in that case, why the 'cabbage'? The connection escapes me. And if there is the slightest connection between the 'goat' and the 'cabbage', then the 'cabbage' is always devoured. Then perhaps this is the 'very newest philosopy' which no one has yet popularized. If so, then why did you not indicate the 'philosopher'?

"Well, enough of that. The subject is so trivial that one begrudges the paper and the time.

"Winter will be around here for a long time, while for you, every­thing probably already is redolent of spring, and Easter is not too far away — April 19...

"... Please don't hold it against me if I have written something clum­sy. You see, I cannot be gentle when each day, I have to encounter the searing wind from the Arctic Sea..." (Pečeliūnas was returned to Lithuania from exile on October 26,1987. - Trans. Note)

Igrim, March 4,1987

To: The Presidium of the Supreme Committee of the Lithuanian SSR From: Gintautas Iešmantas

Residing in Altay S.S.R. Rayon of Vuktil, Podzhar

"The news has probably reached you that I have refused to write a petition asking to be excused from serving the rest of my sentence. In my view, the requirement to write such a petition which as a condition for returning to my homeland with the corresponding obligations is contrary to the principles of truth and justice and not in keeping with the spirit of perestroika. Why? After all, more than one individual has agreed to such an offer. My case is no different, is it? This or that instance is not important. There are higher values.

"Today, we are constantly required to speak only the truth, call a spade a spade, to bring up deficiencies boldly; it is said that there can never be enough truth. We heard them talking about that from the podium of the XXVII Congress and from the January meeting of the Plenum; in the reports and speeches of other leading persons, ideas about a new look at reality and policy have been ringing and continue to ring. If we allow that it is possible to shake off prior attitudes, then every honest and conscientious person will be able to see that I was accused precisely because I was guided by the aforesaid principles now being extolled from the rostrums, I was tried and sentenced for the voice of truth and conscience which would not let me remain silent.

"Basing myself on dialectic, I uncompromisingly analyzed reality as it is in poetic creation. I resolutely condemned evils prevalent in society and I touched upon vices which are publicly addressed today with full voice. And I did not deviate from Socialism, I did not deviate from Democracy, speaking in known words, precisely so that there might be more socialism and more democracy. The march of events showed that in my works (Rubikonas - The Rubicon, Tiesos liudijimas - Witness to the Truth, Laisves paradoksas - Paradox of Freedom, etc.) and the diagonosis I offered in my poetry was and still is true.

"Let us take, for instance, the article by V. Lazutka published in Tiesa (Truth), entitled 'Visuomenės moksliai: be kritikos nėra kūrybos' ('Social Studies: No Creativity without Criticism'), February 11,1987. In it, conclusions are drawn and ideas expressed which I raised nine or ten years ago, after agoniz­ing over them in my heart long and hard. Only Lazutka in his article bases him­self on the world of abstractions, hides behind words and raises questions indirectly, while I talked about reality and expressed criticism based on specific examples supported by experience.

"I also arrived at practical, concrete, clear conclusions, revealing the essence and the real content of things and meanings. In other words, for me dialectic was not a tired doctrine proclaimed from platforms by paid professors in order to confirm the existing situation, but a revolutionary instrument of truth, breathing with eternal life, a textbook for the struggle for the new, not allowing one to become complacent or to justify something untrue or unjust.

"True, not all those ideas and thoughts which I expressed are being realized yet today; some of their aspects are often spoken of vaguely in half-truths or passed over in silence. But after all, only the first steps have been taken in perestroika. Tell me then, where was I wrong? For telling the truth? For bring­ing up short-comings and mistakes sharply and without compromise? But that's the way it must be done.

"More. Stories were spread about me that I was a 'bourgeoise nationalist', that I had spoken about tearing Lithuania away from the Soviet Union, etc. But in the trial and everywhere else, they passed over in silence the fact that I had based myself on the right granted by the Constitution for any Soviet republic to secede from the U.S.S.R. More than that, I was on trial be­cause I believed that such a right exists, not just on paper as a bait or a trick, but that it was possible to effect it in reality. And to effect it not in order to restore some sort of mythical past, but marching ahead on the basis of Socialism.

"So it was not I who transgressed against the Constitution, but they who arrested, accused and tried me. In my so-called nationalism there is more internationalism than there is in the words and deeds of those who boast that they are above nationalism but who, in reality, reinforce lying and hypocrisy. In­ternationalism is not a heedless kowtowing to external forces, submission to their will, but an uncompromising concern with the affairs of one's nation without hurting the interests of others.

"Yes, I am not afraid to empahsize the fact that I was and am for Lithuania seceding from the U.S.S.R. as a separate Socialist state. That is a sacred right of everyone living in Lithuania, not to be denied by any hypocriti-

Gintautas Iešmantas

cal sophisms, and I'm also convinced of something that the international and internal situation confirms that such a move would serve the interests of Socialism and of peace and of real friendship among nations. Anyone who throws stones at me for striving to the eternal dream of the Lithuanian nation stands in opposition to the one and the other.

"Some will throw it up to me that I supposedly chose one way to express my thoughts. But please be frank and honest as the spirit of perestroika demands: Is any other way possible? Today, after the January meeting of the plenum, it has finally become clear to all that what I said could not be said other­wise. An intolerence for uncanonized opinions and ideas had prevailed; they had been considered attacking socialism; the uncovering of wrongs in the politi­cal or ideological sphere had been vilified as lying and calumny, or at best, denigration. In the atmosphere of stereotyped thinking, any non-standard judgement appeared unclear and suspicious by its very nature.

"On the other hand, not only was there no rostrum, there was not even the possibility to express publicly ideas contrary to the existing situation. So far, there still is none to this day. It is no accident that a shortage of critical, that is independent, thinking is felt. And as we know from of old, without such thinking, without struggle between alternative opposing views, there is not the desired progress and sooner or later a paralysis sets in and governmental abuses begin.

"This is why, at the present time, the question of democratizing societal life has been raised so sharply. And it is being raised, it seems, not for nothing but in order to tell the truth about our times, our life and our world, and to participate actively in the struggle for that which is new and progressive. But is this not what I desired?

"In the fall of 1985, KGB investigator Urbonas came to the camp where I was interned and had the nerve to say 'Yes, in many aspects, you are right. Your ideas and thoughts may very well be implemented. But you shouldn't have leaped forward with them ahead of time. You should have waited. It will be accomplished without you.'

"Such is the approach to the question. Such are our morals! You see defects, you see that mistakes are being made, that we are on the wrong road. But keep quiet. Don't stick your neck out. Let it be. No direction is given as long as no steps are taken from above.

"Is it not such a position which Mikhail Gorbachev condemned as harmful and amoral in one of his speeches? I would say that it is a criminal at­titude. For it is activists proclaiming such 'civic' views who decide fates and 'determine' what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad.

"In other words, they think they have the sole right to the last word on what constitutes the truth. And they carry the stamp, according to Mieželaitis, of present conditions; that is, conditions currently condemned but not yet abolished. They receive stars for 'diligent' work, they are necessary, they are cultivated. What sort of morality are they trying to effect in this way? Sycophantic, conformist, based not on conscience or truth but on postulates detrimental to the latter.

"How, finally, in such an atmosphere, can literature, criticism and philosophy not drag along behind politics, merely explaining and illustrating proposed theses instead of independently exploring and testing roads to the fu­ture? Of course, I could live like many, not bothering my head with dangerous questions, closing my eyes to all that there is no desire or ability (there are those, too) to see, until it is shown from above. But I did not know how, and did not wish to live like that. And I rejoice, I am glad, that I was able to cross the bar­rier of fear and conformity, to find a non-standard road, as they like to say today.

T spoke about this at my trial, rejecting on the basis of arguments presented stereotyped accusations and conclusions deliberately distorting the truth and reality. That was a shameful trial for those who prepared it and car­ried it out. It unmasked them, uncovered their conservatism, interfering with progress. My accusers encountered immovable resolve and strength of convic­tion; in an attack of impotent rage they rushed to increase the suggested term of the sentence to the permissible limit. To them, neither truth nor justice were important. But what kind of truth and justice can we speak of when the essence of the indictment consists of beliefs, or even opinions not in keeping with the standards then prevalent and circulating? It was no accident that the trial be­came a civil, moral and spiritual victory for those on trial. This is to say nothing of the investigative process. Here is one eloquent example:

"During the investigation, I was confronted with the false accusa­tion that I had allegedly blackmailed the First Secretary of the Central Commit­tee of the Communist Party of Lithuania with a threat to kill him. To support them, the investigators gathered a great number of texts and statements which were not mine, and even engaged the services of handwriting experts, although its tendentiousness was apparent even to the layman's eye. It was good that a second set of experts independent of the KGB materialized, who had the courage to stand up against the conclusions of the KGB 'specialists'.

"Not satisfied, the KGB called on a third group, this one from Mos­cow. The court of appeals finally demonstrated the error of the original group of experts. However, did the court, the prosecutor's office or other instances show any interest in why the prosecutors submitted such deliberately erroneous expert testimony, how it originated, or what was its purpose or that of the in­dictment itself?

"I do not raise this question just to show how much I had to un­dergo, but in order that one might stop and think where such efforts by the prosecution to bring in 'reinforced indictments' can lead. This has been well dis­cussed in the article, "Pravde glaze" ("Looking Truth in the Eye"), appearing in Literatumaya gazeta (December, 1986). They tell you, 'It's our business to bring an indictment against you, and it's your business to defend yourself. If you get out of it, all well and good. If you sink, better yet! It makes no difference to us here, we wash our hands of it like Pontius Pilate.'

"What it amounts to, according to the author of the aforesaid ar­ticle is that, 'Saving the drowning is the affair of those drowning.'

"All the more since in political cases, right up until the trial, one is not allowed to avail oneself of the services of an attorney, even though his role is minimal.

"The spirit of perestroika requires that we look with open eyes to the past which has brought society to a state of paralysis in various areas. It is necessary, finally, to tell the whole truth also about the results of the personality cult for Lithuania. The taboos which up till now bound our thoughts in this area must finally be abolished. Hence, I wish -- not only wish but must -- turn you at­tention to the events of autumn, 1974, concerning me.

"At that time the KGB organs, on the basis of a false accusation (or their own trumped-up version), carried out a search of my apartment. The complaint that I had written a fifteen-verse poem about Romas Kalanta (The young Lithuanian who immolated himself May 14, 1972, to protest the Soviet occupation. - Trans. Note), and travelling about in my assignments as a jour­nalist, disseminated it throughout Lithuania, of course, was not proven. However, this was unimportant to the KGB agents since they had as their aim to seize my poetic work, characterizing it as 'anti-Soviet poems' (so it was for­mulated in the official record of the search).

"The poetry seized from me was used so that it might be possible to expell me from the Party, from my employment, from the journalists' union and of course, this was done on 'authoritative' and hypocritical pretexts. Is it not apparent that in this way it is possible without difficulty to take care of anyone? At the beginning of this year, in an article published in Pravda, a very similar case of a search and its purpose is described. How is it possible to stride boldly and resolutely forward without abolishing the threatening shadow of these abuses? And it is not the only one, and not just in my case.

"It is not difficult to write a petition requesting to be released and to promise 'not to be involved in the future in illegal activities', as the suggested formula had it. But that would mean admitting that I had, at one time, engaged in such activities. That would be manifestly untrue. It would mean reconciling oneself with those injustices which have been committed in my case and in those of other prisoners. It would mean reconciling myself with the completely false, deliberately distorted interpretation of my convictions and views which KGB organs as well as the court submitted. It would mean shrugging off abuses ex­perienced in camp, shrugging off physical and spiritual sufferings experienced, and the humiliation.

"It would mean reconciling oneself to the confiscation of my work, both at the time of my arrest (the collection Lukesys - Expectation and material collected for a scientific work on alienation), as well as the period of the inves­tigation (for the KGB, I wrote 270 verses and the poem Kelias - The Road, which, of course, all fell into the hands of my accusers). It would mean shrug­ging off the process of democratization, as if to say, 'It's none of my business'.

"Quite the contrary! It is not they who persecuted, tried or im­prisoned me, and not they who from their rostrums hurled anathemas in my direction who are heart and mind in favor of democratization. Of course, today they also join in the restructuring. But they have done this for known reasons. Meanwhile, the entire road of suffering and trials traversed by myself as well as other political prisoners, all of my spiritual efforts, works of political philosophy and poetic work are part of the limitless number of internal and external reasons and incentives which have made me and helped me to get used to the idea of restructuring and for fresh breezes to blow. And I say this without any prejudice. This is why it is essential to release people without prior conditions or obliga­tions.

"I understand that with this letter, I risk bringing upon myself a new era of wrath from the powers that be. But my personal life is unimportant to me. I am concerned with the fate of truth. I am concerned for the future. All that I have done, I have done led on by this concern as well as uneasiness con­cerning the future of Lithuania and the Lithuanian nation. For this purpose I have written this worried but faith and hope-filled letter. The Rubicon must be crossed finally and irrevocably."

February 19,1987

To Gintautas Iešmantas' letter, the Prosecutor of the L.S.S.R. responded, "The accusations set forth in the letter do not coincide with the facts and arguments of the case, and do not give any juridical basis to take measures to excuse you from serving further sentence, which the court handed Decem­ber 22,1980."