THE ARCHDIOCESE OF VILNIUS
"To: The Procurator of the LSSR
"From: Lapienis, Vladas, the son of Antanas,
residing at 5 Dauguvietis St., Apt. 11, Vilnius
"In accordance with Article 242 of the LSSR Code of Criminal Procedure, I wish to inform you that on Nov. 20, 1973, security police under the leadership of Lieutenant Gudas, while conducting a search of my apartment, violated Article 192 of the LSSR Code of Criminal Procedure by taking away to their headquarters the following religious books which were not listed in the report of the search nor in the addendum."
(V. Lapienis enumerates the exact titles of fifty-nine religious books, and notes many other books, pamphlets, and loose sheets of paper confiscated and taken to security headquarters that were not mentioned in the report of the search or in the addendum—ed.)
"Article 192 of the LSSR Code of Criminal Procedure clearly states: 'All confiscated documents and objects must be shown to the witnesses and all others present, and must be enumerated in the report of the confiscation or search or in an addendum attached thereto, indicating their quantity. .. and an official seal must be placed on the items at the scene of the search or confiscation.' In reality, completely ignoring Article 192 of the code, the security policemen willfully took the above-mentioned and many other books without listing them either in the report or in the addendum, placed them in bags, and without sealing them loaded them into an automobile and took them away. Before leaving, Lt. Gudas stated, 'These books might be returned.'
"The security police violated not only Article 192 of the LSSR Code of Criminal Procedure but also Article 10 of the LSSR Constitution (The books are my own personal property, since they were purchased with my earnings.); Article 96 (which guarantees freedom of conscience); and Article 97 (which by law guarantees citizens the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press). Furthermore, these actions violated several international agreements, namely, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention Against Discrimination in the Field of Education.
"On November 30, 1973, I wrote to the Chairman of the State Security Committee requesting the return of my books. On Dec. 21, I received the following reply signed by Capt. J. Morkevičius: 'The questions raised in your letter of November 30, 1973, will be answered during the course of the preliminary investigation.'
"Therefore, in accordance with Article 24 of the LSSR Code of Criminal Procedure, I request that you take steps to redress the above-mentioned violations of the law and to return all my religious books, brochures, papers, notebooks, J. Mockevičius' manuscripts, and all other items taken to security headquarters...."
(V. Lapienis then notes that there is a deep chasm between the tolerance for believers evident in the writings of Lenin and the security officials who confiscate religious literature. This fact could turn believers against the present system—ed.)
"The demand that believers should not possess or read religious literature is like demanding Communists not to own or read Marxist-Leninist works, or atheists—atheistic literature.
"How is the believing public to understand Article 97 of the Soviet Constitution,which guarantees the freedoms of speech and of the press, when the publication of almost all religious literature is prohibited, except for extremely small editions of prayer books and an even smaller edition of the Bible, and when even religious books that are typed out or privately duplicated by the faithful themselves are confiscated and those possessing them are threatened with punishment? These and other related facts lead the believing public to suspect that the freedoms of conscience, speech, the press, and assembly, including the holding of mass meetings, guaranteed in the LSSR Constitution, as well as by the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are but empty words because some (all—ed.) of the security policemen disregard the basic rights and freedoms of citizens.
"In his report to the Twenty-fourth Party Congress, Leonid Brezhnev declared: 'Respect for law should become the personal conviction of every human being. This should be especially true of the actions of public officials. No attempt to deviate from or to bypass the laws for any reason whatsoever, can be tolerated. Neither can violations of personal rights be tolerated, nor anything that lowers the dignity of citizens. For us Communists, who adhere to the most humane of ideals, this must be a matter of principle' (Tiesa [Truth], Dec. 5, 1973).
"If I do not receive a reply within one month, I will take my appeal to the Procurator General of the USSR.
V. Lapienis J
anuary 4, 1974"
(This is an abridged version of the petition—ed.)
In his letter dated January 14, 1974, Bakučionis, the Chief Deputy Procurator of the LSSR, informed Lapienis that "the search conducted in your apartment was sanctioned by the procurator in connection with the investigations being carried out in a criminal case. The question of the confiscated literature will be decided during the course of the investigation. You may obtain further information on this matter in person from the Procurator's Office of the LSSR."
Lapienis had complained that the security police had violated the law by failing to make a record of all confiscated items, whereas Bakučionis replied that the search had been sanctioned.