Volume 33, No.1 - Spring 1987
Editor of this issue: Antanas Klimas
ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright © 1987 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.


* The name Vilnius, which is the capital city of Lithuania, has been given to the Asteroid No. 3072, reported Mokslas ir Gyvenimas, published in December, 1986 in Vilnius, Lithuania. The asteroid was first observed in 1978. It is estimated to be approximately 6 km. in diameter, in an orbit some 345 million km. away from the sun. In 1985 Lituanus reported another asteroid named after an internationally known Lithuanian artist and composer, Čiurlionis.

* We are saddened to note the death of a Lithuanian artist, Algirdas Kurauskas in 1986. Mr. Kurauskas served as the Lituanus Art Director in the sixties and was best known for his graphic design of books.

* In 1986 two tragic events were noted in the free world. They were the anniversaries of the heroic 1956 Hungarian uprising against the Soviets and the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Both events parallel similar history in Lithuania.

The 1941 Lithuanian revolt against the Soviets resulted in a military victory and the restoration of the independent Lithuanian state. Regrettably, Nazi Germany could not tolerate Lithuania governed by Lithuanians and a harsh occupation followed. Afghanistan reminds us of the forced Soviet take-over of the Republic of Lithuania in 1940 and a prolonged Lithuanian military resistance against the Soviets during 1944 - 1952.

* Saulius Tomas Kondrotas, a leading Lithuanian novelist, left the Soviet Union for life in the West. Currently he resides in the United States. The Soviet Lithuania literary journal Literatūra ir Menas in 1986 publicly chastized Kondrotas for his decision to leave the Soviet way of life.


Special to the LITUANUS Data Bank

The Chautauqua Conference which took place in Jūrmala, Latvia between Sept. 15-19,1986, was one of the most significant events in the post-WWII history of the Baltic Republics. It marked the first time in 46 years that high-ranking United States officials reaffirmed, on Baltic soil, the long standing US policy of not recognizing the illegal incorporation of the Baltic States into the Soviet Union during World War II.

The firm stand of the State Department officials and other US speakers, when they distinguished Latvia as a country separate from the Soviet Union, had a profound effect on the Latvians in Latvia. Their fears that they had been forgotten as a nation were erased and their sense of national pride reawakened. Furthermore, the US officials saw, at first hand, that the non-recognition policy is justified. They were given both verbal and written accounts, from the Latvians who gathered outside the conference, of Soviet oppression and attempts to russify the Baltic Republics. Initially regarded with great pessimism and even concern by the Baltic society in the West, the conference led to an unprecedented focus upon the Baltic issue. This fortunate outcome was largely due to three factors: the timing of the conference, miscalculations by the Soviets, and the nationalism and courage of the Latvians in Latvia.

The conference followed from an earlier meeting between representatives from the Soviet Union and the United States in the summer of 1985, when a Soviet delegation traveled to Chautauqua, a summer resort in upstate New York, for a series of political debates. The program included current issue discussions in a "town-style" meeting where the audience could participate by asking questions of both sides and, in the evening, enjoy performances by American and Soviet musicians. The Chautauqua Institution has a long tradition of staging political debates and cultural events and earlier events sponsored by the Chautauquans have included several US presidents as well as famous artists. The conference of 1985, however, marked the first time that visitors from the Soviet Union participated.

The logical continuation of this newly formed relationship was to have the Soviets host a Chautauqua-style meeting in the USSR the following summer. The Soviets chose Latvia as the site. They insisted that Jūrmala, a seaside resort area, was selected because of its geographical similarities to the Chautauqua resort. Several theories have been developed about other possible motives behind the choice. Many feared that to have US officials with Soviet visas on Latvian soil was a deliberate Soviet plan: The presence of the US officials under these circumstances would in fact amount to the recognition of the Soviet annexation of Latvia. Another theory is that the Soviets did not want the conference to take place at all because of the uncensored media demanded by the Chautauquans. By suggesting Latvia as the site, the Soviets may have hoped that the US would boycott the conference because of the non-recognition policy. They could then blame the end of the relationship on the US.

Upon receiving the site proposal, John Wallach, the US negotiator of the conference, and some State Department officials suggested that the American Latvian Association take advantage of the opportunity rather than protest against the location. The ALA decided to cooperate if certain conditions were satisfied, most important of which were: that the conference be held in three languages: English, Latvian, and Russian; that 10 slots be made available for American Latvians in the US delegation; that the Soviet audience in the conference reflect the ethnic makeup of Latvia, i.e., roughly 55 percent Latvians, 45 percent Russians; and that all of the US speakers emphasize that they do not recognize the occupation of Latvia by the Soviet Union. The Soviets accepted the conditions, a decision which they no doubt regretted. They had obviously underestimated the consequences of exposing their isolated society to 270 people from the open-minded west and had not considered the reactions of free individuals when faced with manipulation and intimidation.

The conference drew a large portion of both government and press attention due to the arrest of US News and World Report journalist Nicholas Daniloff and his detention in Moscow. In fact, our trip to Latvia was delayed for three days for this reason. Only when Mr. Daniloff was in the custody of the US embassy were we allowed to start our journey. The press understandably felt a bond of solidarity with Mr. Daniloff, and the State department officials, representing a conservative administration, were ready to deliver a stern message to the Soviets. Because of these circumstances and the timing of the events, the inclination of the press and the position of the US government were slanted in favor of the Baltic cause. The occupation of Latvia suddenly became a good story, an issue that was relevant to the conference, and an unexpected problem for the Soviets who had thought the topic dead and buried.

The dilemma facing the Soviets was the question of how to deal with 270 Americans. They could give them the freedom to do as they wish, or they could try to control them by intimidating them. Unfortunately for the Soviets, they chose the latter approach. Many members of the US delegation were alienated by their hosts as soon as they set foot in the USSR. They were questioned as to why they were carrying Bibles and briefing packets containing facts about Latvia which they had accepted from the ALA. They knew that it was legal to bring one Bible into the Soviet Union but not that they would be heatedly questioned about them. One member of the delegation had his briefing packet taken away altogether. Besides underlining the absence of religious freedom in the USSR, these events showed a lack of trust on the part of the hosts and left many Americans doubtful of the sincerity of the Soviets in their declared wish to improve their relations with the United States.

The Soviets angered the Americans throughout our stay in Leningrad and Latvia. Intourist, the Soviet travel agency, scheduled all activities in such a manner that they virtually overlapped one another. This gave the members of the delegation little time to rest, let alone do some sight-seeing on their own. Most of the delegation had their hotel rooms searched and some were followed when they did seize a chance to see Riga. We, the seven Latvians in the US delegation, had our luggage searched nearly every time we left our rooms. On the second night of our stay in Riga my briefing packet was taken and on the following evening my diary. Wherever we went we were followed closely, even into the washrooms. One morning I was late for breakfast and getting dressed when two large Russians in dark overcoats came into my room. More startled to see me than I was to see them, they left as quickly as possible, explaining that they had entered the wrong room. Similar instances of intimidation and harassment were endless. To say that hospitality such as this annoyed the entire delegation is an understatement. Nevertheless, the Soviets went one step further by issuing an official threat against the seven of us.

This threat, too, worked in our favour. A high ranking security official told John Wallach that because of our conversations with the local Latvians who were unable to gain access to the conference, the Soviet Government could no longer guarantee the safety of the seven Latvian Americans in the delegation. Although rather alarmed, we followed Mr. Wallach's advice and informed the press about the threat. Instantly we, and the Soviet occupation of Latvia, became an interesting news story. It is ironic, but we can thank the Soviets themselves for the unprecedented attention paid the Latvian issue by the free press.

The chief cause of the threat was a small lapel pin which most members of the delegation were given by the ALA. The flags of the United States and Independent Latvia are shown crossed on this pin — an image which inspired hope and strengthened nationalistic pride in every Latvian who saw the symbol. What surprised us the most was the extent to which the conference was covered on Latvian TV. On the first day of the conference Jack Matlock, ambassador designate to the Soviet Union, delivered his opening statement in Latvian. In Latvian he said, "We, both Americans and Russians, are guests in your land." He continued in Russian and declared that the United States has never and will never recognize the occupation of the Baltic States by the Soviet Union. This was broadcast to the entire country in languages which the Latvians could understand. Later in the week we heard Latvians joking how odd it was that an American from the US could speak Latvian when there were so many Russians living in Latvia who can't speak a word of it. On one evening program alone, close-ups of the lapel pin were shown seven times — on one occasion full screen for ten seconds. This particular close-up was broadcast while a Soviet official was reminding the Americans that they came to Latvia on Soviet visas. He had arrived from Moscow especially to denounce the non-recognition policy which was being raised repeatedly both inside and outside the conference.

It was astonishing to find that such a large proportion of the Latvian population did not even know about the US non-recognition policy. When they heard that the United States sympathizes with them and when they saw the flag which they had not seen publicly in 46 years, they grew confident and found the courage to speak honestly about the Soviet presence. They spoke with us fully aware of possible consequences, but when we cautioned them, they would always reply that they lived in a prison anyway and that they had nothing to lose, that it was well worth it. We, the seven Latvians, found ourselves besieged by locals when we ventured outside the conference. At some points there were more than fifty people around me, many with tears in their eyes, questioning me about the Latvian community outside Latvia, asking me not to imagine that they truly believed in the idea of world communism, and expressing their hope and faith that the country will be free again.

A tendency in the West to believe that nationalism in Latvia has wilted to a point where a rebirth of the country is beyond hope should be reconsidered. We found clear expressions of a nationalistic spirit not only among the people we met but also in the media. The coverage of the conference on Latvian TV and in the local newspapers indicated that there may actually be a certain degree of autonomy in the posts at the decision-making and editing levels. Although the media was censored, all of the most significant arguments concerning the occupation of Latvia were broadcast and published. In addition to the examples already mentioned, these included questions about the Soviet refusal to acknowledge the existence of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact and the absence of free elections in Latvia.

The results of the conference suggest that Baltic organization here in the West need not rely solely on demonstrations to achieve their objectives. Occasions arise when they can accomplish far more by cooperating with the governments and the media of their respective countries. With demonstrations alone they remain outside the more powerful circles of society, and without the respect and help of the Government and press, often little more than self-satisfaction is gained regarding the Baltic cause. Allowing the conference to take place the American Latvian Association took a great risk, but the gains recorded exceeded all hopes and dreams and made the gamble well worth it.

The Latvians in Latvia took far greater risks, but because of their courage and hope the Baltic occupation is finally tangible and current issue in the minds of US Government officials and journalists. The Soviets, on the other hand, drew attention to their unlawful presence in the Baltic States by overestimating their control over the Latvian people and by mishandling the US delegation. All of Latvia now has seen, read or heard that their occupation never has nor will be recognized by the United States, and that there is hope for the future. For these reasons, the Chautauqua conference in Jūrmala, Latvia was an historic event in the recent history of the Baltic States. It clarified many misconceptions regarding the present and holds many lessons for the future.


"Open Letter to Lithuanian Priests and Seminarians" was published in the April 1985 issue of the Lithuanian underground journal Aušra (The Dawn), which reached the West recently. The letter is an important document of the Lithuanian guerilla war against the Soviet invaders, 1944-1952, in which Liudvikas Simutis took part.

Why Simutis was singled out as an exemplary "enemy"

"I don't know exactly how many people joined in the active struggle against the Soviet Government. But I know that very many perished in the unequal struggle or were taken prisoners, where many died, unable to withstand the torture by starvation and cold. Quite a few, however, returned to the homeland alive, although most of them had lost their health. One meets former prisoners almost on every step. Among them there are numerous former leaders . . . prisoners almost on every step, who in their time were very serious enemies of the Soviet Government. Why, then, does the Soviet propaganda focus its attacks only on a few of them, myself included?

"I have no clearcut answer to this question. Perhaps they wanted to create the impression that their enemies were and remain very few.

A "selfless' guerilla in his teens

"I joined in the struggle against the Soviet Government still as a child, and I was arrested while going on twenty. Therefore, I was not able to do much harm to the Soviet Government. I did what all the other underground fighters were doing, perhaps more diligently than many and absolutely selflessly. I took part in robbing two state stores. But when I was sentenced and my property was confiscated as part of the punishment, the only item worth confiscating in all of mine and my mother's property was my old cheap wrist-watch. This means I did not rob for myself, but for the cause of our struggle. I stole several typewriters, from offices. I also stole and purchased paper for the underground press. I wrote for underground newspapers and I drafted several texts of appeals. I have posted anti-Soviet appeals in various places and have distributed underground periodicals and other publications. Finally, I joined the Communist Youth organization and worked in a seven-year school as the chief leader of the pioneers, obstructing as much as I could the Komsomol and Pioneer organizations' activity from within.

"We believed in the meaningfulness of our sacrifice"

"just as the absolute majority of our underground fighters, I sincerely believed in the necessity of our struggle and in the meaningfulness of our self-sacrifice. We wanted neither to kill nor to die. We yearned to live in a Fatherland free from foreign coercion. In the name of this we sacrificed our freedom, youth, health, and even our lives.

Fighter against foreign intruders labeled a "terrorist"

"I, just as many of us, was armed with a tiny, ancient pistol. I became a famous 'terrorist,' because a shot from that small pistol killed a militiaman, Osipov, armed with a military weapon, on the platform of the Telšiai railroad station. Militiaman Jarmolayev was lightly wounded from that same pistol not far from the same station; he emptied his military pistol trying to hit me, but missed. I had no other occasion to use the weapon. |

"A man's sudden death is always a terrible tragedy, and I never felt any joy (nor, for that matter, any pangs of conscience) because it was Osipov who perished, and not I. I understand very well the pain experienced by his family, since from my own bitter experience I know what it means to lose a father and close friends. But I must emphasize that I did not travel and did not plan to travel somewhere to Russia to hunt Osipov or Jarmolayev, and I would have certainly done no harm to them, if they had not come to my native Žemaitija (Samogitia) to hunt Samogitians, who don't like uninvited armed intruders. Therefore, I feel that I don't deserve to be labeled as a terrorist, just as no soldiers who had shot at their enemies in a battle deserve it.

Child sees father massacred by Bolsheviks

"One experience had a special impact on the formation of my views and the choice of my life's path. I was five years old when my father's corpse was shown to me. One half of his face was swollen, black and blue, the other — bloodied and battered. His eyes were pierced, his tongue was pulled out and tied with a string. The skin of his hands and feet was white and had peeled off from being scalded.

His sexual organs were crushed (as I found later). Many other corpses were also there, mutilated beyond recognition. A big crowd of people. My mother's crying, the sobs of the other martyrs' family members. Even men were crying. Curses directed at the bolsheviks. Up to that time, I had not heard the word 'bolshevik.' The first information about the bolsheviks reached my consciousness in the form of my father's and other corpses, and of curses — beasts, sadists, degenerates.

Torturer and killer — official of Soviet Council for Religious Affairs

"This was in 1941, in the Rainiai grove (near Telšiai), right after the Russian retreat. One of the organizers of this tragedy of the Rainiai grove, where my father was tortured to death, was the NKVD agent Petras Raslanas. Now he has a colonel's rank, he lives in Vilnius (Klinikų Street 15-18) and is employed in the office of (the commissioner of the council for religious affairs) Anilionis, as a director of personnel (he decides where priests are to be appointed, who should be allowed, or forbidden, to study in the Theological Seminary).

"The very fact that I did not try to avenge myself on Raslanas, and have no plans to do so now, for my father's terrible death, is one of the weightiest arguments that I am not a born criminal and terrorist, but that I consciously and firmly adhere to the Catholic world view.

GULAG camps — suffering and "enrichment"

"I paid dearly and I continue paying for my participation in the anti-Soviet underground. My health was undermined early by a poverty-ridden, hungry childhood and youth, filled with nervous tension and many painful losses. Interrogations. Trial. Labor camps. Twenty-two years of imprisonment, starvation and suffering: but it was also a very enriching experience, since in the camps I met| and befriended many marvellous people — the Revs. Močius and Svarinskas, Plumpa, and others, Lithuanians and non-Lithuanians. While still in the camps I became acquainted (by mail) with Sakharov, who tried very hard to help me.

Lithuanians thank returning guerilla for his sacrifice

"On my return to Lithuanian in 1977, I was pleasantly surprised that many people whom I had not personally known, including numerous youths, tried to meet me and thank me for my sacrifice.

I am proud to have been part of elemental popular resistance

"No, we, the members of the anti-Soviet underground, were not bandits and terrorists, but patriots who loved our Fatherland and freedom and who sacrificed ourselves in the struggle against injustice. I do not regret, but on the contrary, am proud that I was a member of this very underground. This elemental popular resistance against foreign injustice made Lithuania's name known and respected throughout the whole world! The Lithuanian soil drenched with our blood and shaken by our suffering is raising ever new patriots, national heroes: Sadūnaite, the Rev. Tamkevičius, and others.

Soviet government committed "international crime"

A crime was committed by Stalin and the entire USSR government of that time, who openly declared the right of nations to self-determination, but secretly made a deal with Hitler, dividing the Baltic States and Poland between themselves (Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact). The present USSR government is making a grave error by failing to distance itself publicly from this international crime. The communists act dishonorably when they call us the most terrible names only because we took a stand against the criminal activity of Stalin and his henchmen (an activity that has been already partly condemned in the Soviet Union, too), and because we voted with our blood for Lithuania's independence from the USSR. At that time, Communists in Lithuania were an absolute minority and the people considered them the nation's gravediggers."

Soviet statistics support Simutis' statements

In support of his statements, Simutis refers to the Archives of the Lithuanian Communist Party's Central Committee and other official Soviet sources:

1 On January 1,1945,'the Lithuanian Communist Party had 3,536 members, of whom only 1127 were Lithuanians (less than one third). (Party Archives).

2 On January 1, 1950, the Lithuanian Communist Party had 27,753 members, among them only 7,483 Lithuanians, considerably less than one third. (Party Archives).

3 On January 1, 1945, not a single member of the Communist Party taught in the Lithuanian schools, including the universities; there were no Communists in the Lithuanian intelligentsia or among the peasants (Party Archives).

4 During World War II, 9,187 people were active in the "antifascist underground" and in the "partisan movement;" 1,442 of them perished. ("The Partisan movement in Lithuania during the years of the great fatherland war," a dissertation by P. Staras, 1965, p. 243).

From the beginning of the war until early 1944, 92 partisan detachments and groups were formed in occupied Lithuania by the efforts of the Central Committee of the Lithuanian CP. ("The Lithuanian CP in Numbers, 1918-1975. A Collection of Statistical Data." Vilnius, "Mintis," 1976, p. 11)

5 From July 1944 to December 1945, 1,067 underground organizations and groups, 839 armed bandit groups (our guerillas are here called "bandits." — L.S.) were liquidated, 11,870 counterrevolutionaries were killed. (Party Archives).

Soviet wartime guerillas less numerous than anti-Soviet movement

"Let us compare these figures. During the entire war, the total number of red anti-fascists (due to the efforts of the CC of the LCP!) was 9,187 people, while during the first one and half years 11,870 anti-Soviet fighters were killed. During the entire war, 92 red partisan detachments and groups were formed, but during the first one and a half years 1,906 underground and guerilla groups were liquidated. The underground and the guerilla movement were active for more than one and a half years.

Without foreign help, Lithuania's Communists would not have lasted one day

"These figures from the Archives of the Lithuanian Communist Party's Central Committee clearly show that I have not betrayed my Fatherland Lithuania, that I went with the Lithuanian people, that without the help of a foreign army, the handful of Lithuania's Communists in power would not have survived for a single day, and that the absolute majority of Lithuanians wanted a free Lithuania, independent of any foreign country, especially the USSR.

Simutis does not advocate armed struggle now

"In spite of that, we were defeated, Lithuania became part of the USSR. This is a fact, which the whole world takes into account, including the Lithuanian nation. Having returned to Lithuania after 22 years of imprisonment in Russia, I have not met a single person who wanted to renew an armed struggle for Lithuania's separation from the USSR or who wanted to establish underground anti-Soviet organizations, although many in Lithuania are dissatisfied with the existing situation.

"There are many things I don't like either. But I do not advocate to anybody to take up the struggle against the Soviet government, and in particular, I do not advise anyone (including the Soviet government) to use arms, to use violence or coercion. I am only expressing my opinion about the postwar period.

Victorious invaders are "not to be judged"

"Once I asked a group of Communists: "Do you, Communists, understand how much blood and tears you have caused Lithuania?" One of them, the chekist Rimkus, an interrogator for Vilnius' KGB, replied for all of them: "Victors do not stand trial!"

History's verdict will favor Lithuanian resistance

"You are wrong, citizen Rimkus, and all who think like you. Not all criminals are tried and sentenced justly and in time, just as not all the heroes are recognized and rewarded by the governments. But there is an unavoidable and unerring court — THE COURT OF HISTORY. I accept its verdict about the movement of the Lithuanian freedom struggle in advance and with a clear conscience."

Liudvikas Simutis
Kaunas, December 1984


Anatoli Shcharanski has paid tribute to his former fellow-prisoner Viktoras Petkus. The Soviet disinformation media have constantly tried to defame Petkus. New York's Russian-language daily Novoye Russkoye Slovo published on May 16, 1986 a long excerpt from a collection of Shcharanski's testimonies, in which he describes Petkus as a determined fighter for human rights. Referring to Moscow's slander campaign against Petkus, Shcharanski writes:

I take this opportunity to testify that
Viktoras Petkus is an absolutely disciplined,
honorable, serious individual, who is fighting an
uncompromising fight against the KGB and deserves
complete respect.

Shcharanski expressed similar sentiments in his letter, dated May 23, 1986, to the Lithuanian Catholic Religious Aid in Brooklyn:

As you mention, I shared a cell with Viktoras
Petkus for 16 months and during that time got to
know him very well. I would like to do anything
in my power to help this truly remarkable man
whose friendship helped to sustain me during my imprisonment.
Please allow me a little more time
to sort out my personal arrangements here before I
provide you in due course with a full account of
my knowledge of Viktoras' situation.


Vyacheslav M. Molotov's death on November 8, 1986, was marked in the West by obituaries that were long on historical details, but frequently short on essence. One of the biggest mass murderers in our century, Molotov played a special role in the extinction of the independent Baltic States and in the campaign of genocide against the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian people.

The so-called Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of August 23, 1939 sealed Stalin's and Hitler's conspiracy against the nations of East-Central Europe and against the Western democracies. Attached to the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression treaty was a secret Protocol, which assigned Estonia and Latvia to the USSR, and Lithuania to Germany. This Protocol was amended on September 28,1939, with the result that Lithuania was "given" the USSR.

ELTA 12 (331), 1986


Anxiety Over Nuclear Power Plants and Toxic Waste Dumps

"Extreme concern" in the Baltic States about the course of Moscow's nuclear energy policy is described by Ingo Urban in the August 9, 1986 issue of Hamburg's daily Die Welt. He writes that Western tourists, returning from the Baltic area, have observed a "rising anxiety" of the Lithuanians about the nuclear power plant near Ignalina, in northeastern Lithuania. This plant is of the same type as the one in Chernobyl.

According to Urban, the anxiety about the mammoth project at Ignalina has spilled over into neighboring Latvia. The chief source of concern there is the radioactively contaminated water used to cool the reactor. This water reaches the Latvian river Dauguva that flows into the Baltic Sea at Riga.

An additional nuclear power plant is planned for Pavilosta, a Latvian harbor between Liepaja (pop. 112,000) and Ventspils (pop. 51,000). That area has been already dangerously polluted by a recently built crude oil refinery complex.

The insecurity of the Latvian people, Urban writes, has been intensified by the increase in the cancer rate in the vicinity of the research reactor (Type IRT-3), in Salaspils near Riga, which is run by the Latvian Academy of Sciences.

The existence of a nuclear conversion plant in the area of Riga, capital of Latvia, was accidentally brought to light in 1984 when the freighter "Mont Louis" stranded near Ostende, Belgium. Its cargo was uranhexafluoride, the starting chemical for fuel used in nuclear power plants and atomic bombs. The freighter was on its way from France to Riga.

In spite of this dangerous situation, the Soviet authorities do not seem to be changing any of their plans, the German correspondent writes. A map published in the March 1985 issue of the Soviet Latvian periodical Zinatne un Tehnika (Science and Technology) indicates dump sites "for storing particularly dangerous and toxic materials" that cover more than 25 percent of Latvia's territory, or more than 15,000 square kilometers. In 1979, the same newspaper had designated these areas as future dumps for atomic waste and has reported about the "experiments to divert particularly toxic and radioactive polluted waters in the depth of 1200 meters."

ELTA No. 10(329), 1986


Lithuanians Listed in Imprisoned Writers' Report

Nine Lithuanians are listed in the PEN Writers in Prison Committee report, dated June 1986. They are Liudas Dambrauskas, Gintautas Iešmantas, Vladas Lapienis, Vytautas Skuodis and Viktoras Petkus, who are now serving time in the GULAG camps; Antanas Terleckas and Povilas Pečeliūnas, both in internal exile; and Algirdas Statkevičius, in forced psychiatric confinement. The case of Balys Gajauskas is now under PEN investigation. Also included in the report are the Latvians Gunars Freimanis and Zhanis Skudra, and the Estonian Mark Niklus.

Some imprisoned writers and journalists have been "adopted" by various PEN Centers as a gesture of solidarity. Thus, Iešmantas was made member of the U.S. Center, Skuodis by the Norwegian Center, Petkus by the Scottish Center, Terleckas by the Canadian, United States, and Writers-in-Exile Centers, and Statkevičius by the Philippine and Norwegian Centers.

The imprisoned writers, including the Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians, were highlighted in a special performance on June 23, in Hamburg's Thalia Theater. German actors and writers of various nationalities read excerpts from the prisoners' poems, prose and letters.

For the first time in PEN's history, the report of the Writers-in-Prison Committee was adopted unanimously. The Bulgarian and East German delegations made some criticisms and tried to cast heavy-handed slurs on some imprisoned writers, but still voted for the report. It appears that even the professional admirers and defenders of the Soviet regime find it difficult and embarrassing to defend its maltreatment of the "prisoners of conscience."

The struggle of the Lithuanians and other nations of East-Central Europe to defend and preserve their history against distortion by foreign intruders was the subject of a lecture by Algirdas Lansbergis, a delegate of PEN-ln -Exile. Landsbergis also called on the German writers not to limit their moral indignation to Chile and Nicaragua, but also to speak up for the victimized nations, such as Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia at their very doorstep. Paraphrasing Goethe, he said: "Warum in die Feme schweifen, wenn das Bose liegt so nah." (Why gaze into faraway distances, when Evil is right here).

ELTA No. 9(328), 1986


* The author is a Political Science major at Boston College. He studied the history and politics of Eastern Europe at the Austro-American Institute in Vienna, Austria in the Spring of 1986. He was selected as one of the seven Latvians in the US delegation.