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8— Sajudis Comes of Age
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Sajudis Comes of Age

On August 30 Sajudis's Initiative Group took a giant step in regulating its relations with the government when it entertained General Eduardas Eismuntas, the head of the Saugumas, the State Security Committee (the Russian initials would be KGB). Eismuntas, together with an aide, Edmundas Baltinas, attended the group's weekly meeting in the building of the Artists' Union. Cynics had been insisting that Sajudis functioned only by the suffrance of the Saugumas; Sajudis leaders had been complaining about being followed. Now, with Vytautas Petkevicius presiding, the two forces confronted each other directly.

From the start Eismuntas made clear that he took his cues from the party's second secretary: his own view of Sajudis, he explained, was the same as that which "Comrade Mitkin expressed in his talk that was published in Tiesa. " Because his office was daily receiving "letters and calls" demanding explanations about Sajudis's activity, he considered this meeting useful for


both sides as an opportunity to make their positions clear.

There were no limits as to the topics up for discussion. Julius Juzeliunas began by talking about the deportations. Eismuntas argued that the numbers involved in deportation were exaggerated: "I cannot understand why members of the Sajudis Initiative Group operate with the number 200-300,000, which in fact comes from emigre publications. I can authoritatively assure you that there were no more than we have stated, 120,000." One must, he argued, also remember the victims of the "bandits" and understand the rationale behind the Soviet decision to remove "estate owners" in 1941 and "people connected with the bandits" in 1948-1949.

Eismuntas then launched into a history lecture. Stalinism, he argued, could not be blamed for the "bandits'" activities: "I understand that in each historical truth one can interpret various facts in different ways. History is a matter difficult to master. The basis of history are documents. And the documents show that the Abwehr [German counterespionage] created the nationalist underground." After the war, he continued, the Soviet government offered an amnesty to the opposition, "but those whose hands were bloodied saw no way out." Part of the underground fled, part remained to fight Soviet rule. He went on to attack the postwar activities of the Lithuanian emigration.

Sajudis members rose to the challenge. Petkevicius pointed out that if the Abwehr organized a Lithuanian "fifth column," then the "1941 deportations were a fraud, since they did not help to protect the rear of the Soviet army." Stalin's "plan of Sovietization, prepared already in 1938 and 1939," together with the Com-


munist Party's order that party members desist from "any antifascist activity" in that period, meant that the deportations were "absolutely directed against the intelligentsia of Lithuania and against the peasantry." Eismuntas explained that the security forces had had to make do with poorly prepared personnel who did not fully understand their jobs. The two men had then argued over who drew up the lists for deportation in 1941 and who executed the orders.

Bronius Genzelis rejected the argument that the deportations had resulted from "mistakes," pointing out that Marxist philosophy had to seek "the reasons for every phenomenon in objective truth." Why did Eismuntas not want to discuss Stalinism? Eismuntas pleaded for a separation of the concept of "socialism and Soviet power" from the misfortunes of Stalinist "deformations," but Petkevicius leaped in to argue that "there was never any socialism in the years of Stalinism, there was only complete deformation." When Eismuntas insisted that there was no longer any Stalinism in Lithuania, Petkevicius called on higher authorities: "Even Iakovlev, in his speech, said that there is." The refusal "to recognize objective reasons," Genzelis interjected, "is also a characteristic of Stalinism."

Turning to contemporary matters, Eismuntas insisted that at this time there were only four Lithuanian political prisoners and four exiles. To a challenge as to what "anti-Soviet activity" now meant, his assistant, Baltinas, answered, "That is the invitation to change the existing order." There are laws that must be carried out and one must be ready to tolerate varying opinions, Eismuntas immediately added, before anyone could ask what Baltinas's views of perestroika might be. Eismuntas expressed confidence that the eight persons in ques-


tion would soon be released, not as a result of "the hunger-strikers" but rather "because of democratization generally."

Challenged as to whom he took orders from, Eismuntas explained, "I am a member of the government of Lithuania and the Soviet Union. I am under the Lithuanian-Soviet Union Cabinet of Ministers. We are in a republican-union jurisdiction." In terms of basic questions "concerning my professional work and which do not concern internal problems, I have more to do with the State Security Committee of the Soviet Union. Internal problems are to be resolved in Vilnius in conjunction with the Central Committee, with the Cabinet of Ministers and with the Presidium [of the Supreme Soviet]." Of these various Soviet institutions the party seemed most important: "The party directs the entire process of living. I work for the party."

Eismuntas obviously distrusted Sajudis's unofficial character. Ozolas pointed out Sajudis's positive contribution to ending the hunger strike, but Eismuntas replied that the Saugumas had not requested Sajudis's help, and he warned that the Initiative Group should have nothing to do with people like Cidzikas and Andreika. Genzelis objected, "But your principles are absolutely Stalinist! Why?" Eismuntas replied he was concerned with carrying out the law, and Stalinist practices had nothing to do with law.

Seizing back the initiative, Eismuntas turned on Juozaitis: "Now I want to put a question to comrade Juozaitis. We know you as an Olympian [Juozaitis had won a medal in swimming at the Montreal Olympics in 1976], your family is good. But how could your tongue praise partisans in those demonstrations? What did you mean in using the word `partisans'?" Juozaitis denied


having used the word, but Eismuntas announced, "We have a tape." Juozaitis replied, "I do too," and he denied having used the word or having ever said anything against Russians: "I used the following formula: `Let us honor the people who died in the forests.'" (Video tapes circulating in the United States indicate that Juozaitis's memory was accurate.) Eismuntas accepted this formulation and dropped his complaint.

Instead the police chief attacked the Lithuanian Freedom League as an anti-Soviet organization: "They want to restore a bourgeois Lithuania, the bourgeois order. What can link Sajudis members with the Freedom League? Why are some of you cooperating with them?" Turning to Arturas Skucas, he asked, "Why do you use the slogan `We don't need Communists'? How is one to understand this?" Vaisvila responded that most members of the Initiative Group knew nothing of the group, and Eismuntas urged them to read Tiesa : "Everything about the Freedom League was clearly said and explained in Tiesa. "

Sigitas Geda asked why Saugumas so feared the Freedom League. Is every meeting with a member of the Freedom League to be considered a crime? Reportedly all contacts between Initiative Group members and Freedom League members were being "followed and recorded. Is that true? If so, why? It seems to me that the group is rather weak." Eismuntas replied, "I am interested in the ideological, political, and ethical side of Sajudis's relationship with members of the Freedom League." The league's members, he continued, "understand well that their slogan to restore bourgeois Lithuania will be unacceptable and unpopular."

In answer to a question as to how perestroika was affecting Saugumas, Eismuntas explained that his agency


engaged in both surveillance and counterespionage: "There is a lot of work here." The committee's building needed repair. There were relatively few employees, and he could not say whether anyone would be released. Lithuanians received priority in being hired, but there were also Russian and Polish employees. The majority spoke Lithuanian; Russians working for the agency could freely discuss Lithuanian history. To assure that illegal practices of the past would not return, "Central Committee control" had to be strengthened. The agency could reform itself even better, he suggested, if Sajudis would just behave itself.

After a reprise of the question whether Stalin could be blamed for the existence of "bandits" in Lithuania after World War II, the discussion turned to Eismuntas's own views on current issues ranging from tapping telephone lines to economic self-sufficiency. Sigitas Geda asked his opinion about "the idea of Lithuania's independence." "If one is seeking to restore the bourgeois order, that is an anti-Soviet, anticonstitutional activity," he answered, but he then denied that he meant to call "the effort to secede from the Soviet Union" as "an anti-Soviet act." His job, however, was just to obey the law. The meeting broke up without having reached any agreements; the two sides had simply participated in a frank and candid exchange of views.[1]

The discussions of the evening made clear that Sajudis owed its existence not to Eismuntas and his agency but rather to the winds that were coming from Moscow. Given his own preferences, Eismuntas stood ready to enforce the laws on the books, and this could well have meant closer surveillance and restriction of Sajudis activities. Complaints that Sajudis leaders were avoiding the Freedom League because of Saugumas's directives,


however, seem misplaced. Saugumas and Sajudis recognized that they had to coexist at this particular moment in Lithuania's history, and they were both, each for their own reasons, interested in the activity of the Freedom League.

Initiative Group members came out of the meeting with a variety of new ideas. Eismuntas's readiness to accept public display of the tricolor stimulated ideas of raising the tricolor over the Gediminas tower overlooking Gediminas Square, since the tower was not a state administrative building but rather a museum. When Sajudzio zinios went on to call for the introduction of the tricolor into every school room as a means of educating "our children," it was obvious that displaying the flag was becoming an important albeit delicate issue in the confrontation of reformers with the old order in Vilnius.[2]

The details of Eismuntas's conversation with Sajudis quickly became public. The Sajudis newspaper Kauno aidas published a transcript dated August 31. A few weeks later Eismuntas told Mindaugas Barysas of Tiesa about the meeting, which he called open and candid, and he seized the occasion to repeat all his major points. Again he gave 120,000 as the number of Lithuanians deported under Stalinist "deformations," repeating his conviction that the higher figures of 200,000 to 300,000 came from emigre publications. The authorities were duly reviewing claims of unjustified persecution in the years 1940-1952 — of course one had to remember the role of the "reactionary emigration" in turning "naive people" against Soviet rule — and in May of 1988 the Supreme Soviet had undertaken a review of the cases of the four men currently imprisoned under Article 68. Favorable judgments could be expected, and "therefore


not hunger-striking nor any other demonstration but the policy of perestroika" was determining the outcome of the question.

He went on to remind everyone that the Communist Party had originated perestroika and still had to direct it. On the whole, Sajudis's work was positive, but it was still in its "infancy." It should take care that it grows properly; it should work in harmony with the will of the Communist Party. At the same time, he criticized the Initiative Group as having too few representatives of other nationalities of Lithuania — just one Russian and one Jew, by his count. He also expressed concern about Sajudis's contacts with the Lithuanian program of Voice of America and with the Freedom League. The meeting seemed not to have changed any of his views.[3]

After meeting with Eismuntas, the Initiative Group went back to work as usual, developing its contacts throughout the republic. An article in Sajudzio zinios had already described a typical meeting: people would be already gathering at 6 P.M., a good hour before the group was to assemble.[4] Visitors would come from all over Lithuania, bringing copies of local publications or bearing petitions that they wanted heard. Sajudis support groups were springing up in factories, clubs, and offices throughout the republic. In some cases they could count on sympathy from factory administrators; in other cases they were meeting only opposition from party, government, and administration.

When the meetings started, visitors would have the first word: a newly organizing support group in Rokiskis needed a speaker. Who could come? A member of the committee volunteered. What can be done about obstinate administrators who opposed the formation of a Sajudis support group? A man from Kapsukas reported


that workers in his city were considering petitioning to have the city's name changed back to Mariampole. Eventually the committee asked the visitors to leave so that it could consider some questions privately.

When I attended Initiative Group meetings during the month of September, I found them open to the public; visitors came and went as they pleased. The central working area, marked by tables butted up against one another, obviously belonged to the committee; spectators lined the walls. (Concerning the continuing requests for speakers to come to the "provinces," one Initiative Group member said to me, "They all want to relive the [early mass] meetings. They have to repeat everything. But it can't be the same now.") The committee members seemed unconcerned about keeping any secrets; their working space was dotted with pocket tape recorders.

On September 6, since the auditorium on the second floor of the Artists' Union was occupied by a show, the Initiative Group had to meet in the basement. Here the conditions were not so pleasant. Tables had to be fitted between the four large columns that dominated the center of the room; the resulting geometric contortion, by my calculations, had twelve distinct sides at which people sat. At times committee members could not see speakers because of the awkward arrangement.

As a veteran of decades of American university faculty meetings with their passion for the niceties of Robert's Rules of Order, I found these meetings at first difficult to comprehend. The people were remarkably willing to delegate the actual text of a thought or a proposal to someone else, to be done at another time. General discussions kept breaking down into a cacophony of smaller groups. At times, to the distress of some mem-


bers of the committee, visitors insisted in joining the discussion, but, in all, the meetings were "brainstorming" sessions that left the details for execution by those most concerned with this or that question.

The questions that dominated Initiative Group discussions during September concerned the group's program and its organization. This seemed to contradict the group's original statements that it was a temporary alignment that would go out of existence as soon as the party fully accepted perestroika. Ozolas had said in June, "Sajudis is not a party, and probably not even an organization, but rather a movement, a wave, which will dissolve when it has achieved its mission."[5] When I raised questions about this in private, members of the group just shrugged their shoulders. In July the committee had also issued a statement that Sajudis "supports and coordinates social initiatives independent of government organs."[6] That statement indicated that there would be work for some time; no one seemed concerned about any contradictions.

The major task in the near future was the organization of a congress of Sajudis support groups. The Initiative Group itself should function only until a congress of support groups could meet and elect a new group with a clear mandate to represent the population of the entire republic, not just Vilnius. As of the beginning of September, there were already Sajudis support groups in thirty-four of the forty-four rayons, or districts, of Lithuania, and therefore a congress, or conference, should probably meet as soon as possible.

The group agreed on October as the month for their meeting, but they found the choice of an exact day to be a problem. The congress had to take place as soon as possible, but the Initiative Group still had to draw


up a program, distribute it, and then allow two weeks for discussion and reaction before the congress would meet. The group first selected Saturday the fifteenth, but, when they realized that this would conflict with regularly scheduled meetings of party units, they knew they had to find another date. With half of the group's members also party members, participating in party functions had to be a high priority on their agendas.

Besides the question of the date, the group had to consider the size of the congress. Should it plan for a small meeting place or a large one? What arrangements should be made for press coverage? Spectators? Presumably the foreign correspondents in Moscow should be invited, but what about inviting correspondents from the emigre press? Eventually, the group settled on scheduling its congress as a two-day meeting, October 22 and 23, in the largest hall that one could find, the Sports Palace in Vilnius, which could seat 5,000 for a basketball game and, with seats on the main floor, perhaps 7,500 for a concert or a conference.

On September 6 the Initiative Group also considered Sajudis's future organization. The fundamental decision-making body would be the annual congress of representatives from throughout the republic. The congress in turn would elect a Seimas, a group of several hundred persons who would meet at least three times a year, and a Taryba, or council, a small group analogous to the Initiative Group, that would work continually.

The idea of the seimas disturbed many. Seimas had been the name of the legislature in independent Lithuania, and the name suggested a program far beyond what many had thought to be Sajudis's mission. Why not call it taryba (council) and perhaps, further, rename the taryba "collegium"? Advocates of the organizational


plan assured the group that they had conferred with specialists, such as the historian Regina Zepkaite, and seimas as a name had an honored tradition in Lithuanian history going back centuries. The group approved the proposed structure in principle with the understanding that it would yet undergo some revision.

Discussing organizational questions meant also, nolens volens, opening up the discussion to regional politics. A visitor from Kaunas leaped up to object to what he perceived as underrepresentation of his city. Kaunas, he argued, was the largest purely Lithuanian city in the world; it had more Lithuanians than Vilnius did; the people in Kaunas had had a much more difficult time establishing their Sajudis groups than the Vilnius people had faced; therefore Kaunas deserved a guarantee of far stronger representation in Sajudis's institutions than this first project provided.

The rivalry between Kaunas and Vilnius was a well-established fact of Lithuanian life. Whereas Vilnius had at times taken pride in its multinational population, the people of Kaunas looked at Vilnius with suspicion. "Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, but Kaunas is the capital of the Lithuanians," goes an old Kaunas saying. Between the two World Wars, when Vilnius/Wilno was a part of Poland, Kaunas had served as independent Lithuania's "provisional" capital, and its residents maintained a fierce local pride. The people of Vilnius, by contrast, tended to regard the people of Kaunas as provincial and materialistic; Kaunas, after all, was second only to Tbilisi among Soviet cities in the number of cars per inhabitant. As one observer said to me, "The Vilniusites are always teaching the Kaunasites, and the Kaunasites — the Vilniusites."

The Initiative Group soberly heard out their visitor's


plaints and responded that it in fact represented all of Lithuania, not just Vilnius. To emphasize this, the Initiative Group endorsed the idea of organizing a separate Sajudis Coordinating Council for Vilnius. When this proposal came up for public discussion in a mass meeting of the Initiative Group with Sajudis supporters on September 13, some questioned its usefulness — didn't this just serve to feed the ego of the people of Vilnius? — but Romualdas Ozolas persuaded everyone to accept it with an impassioned appeal pointing out the committee's heavy work load: "We are all living under heart-attack conditions!" The principle therefore was established: the Initiative Group represented the republic as a whole, and Vilnius soon had its own Sajudis council.

In the first three weeks of September, Sajudis's major public action was to form a "living ring" around the Ignalina nuclear power plant. In July, Brazauskas had announced that the Lithuanian government would no longer finance the construction of the third unit, but when construction continued investigation showed that Moscow had directed new financing through Riga. In Vingis Park, Buracas had spoken of possibly rallying support from the Latvians to organize a massive boycott of the plant. At the beginning of September, acknowledging that public reports about the plant's operation and safety, including one in Tiesa of April 1, had been doctored, Lithuanian Prime Minister Vaclovas Sakalauskas succeeded in forcing the central government to agree to "conserve" the third unit, that is, suspend construction so that the issues could be settled rationally.[7] At this point, with the first unit closed for repair, only the second unit was working.

On September 5 news of a fire at the power plant


shocked the Lithuanians. Telephones rang insistently at newspaper offices and at the television station. Why had "Panorama," the nightly television newscast, not shown any film of the accident? On the late news, officials reassured the public that no radioactivity had escaped, but the public had little faith in such unverified statements. When reporters were finally admitted to the site the next day, they found a second fire underway. Again the officials declared that everything was under control and that the security system had shown itself fully adequate in responding to such crises. Ignalina's second unit had to close down because of the fire, and for a while the plant produced no electricity at all. Many Lithuanians wanted it to stay that way.[8]

When the Initiative Group met on the evening of September 6, Vaisvila reported that there were indications that the construction of the third unit, rather than being suspended, was in fact going ahead. After lengthy debate, the group, obviously upset by the news of the fires, decided to appeal to the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency for an investigation of the Ignalina plant,[9] and it called for Lithuanians to gather on Saturday the seventeenth to form a "living ring" around the plant. Demonstrators should plan to stay the weekend, Friday the sixteenth to Sunday the eighteenth, bringing food and shelter for three days. In responding over the next days many people suggested that the demonstrators could even fast for forty-eight hours from Friday to Sunday to emphasize their concerns.

Government and party officials quickly indicated their disapproval of such a demonstration; meeting with Buracas, Landsbergis, Vaisvila, and Skucas, Sakalauskas and Brazauskas pointed out that two commis-


sions were already investigating the accident and that Lithuania now had a deficit of electrical power. At this point, they argued, a demonstration would do no good; it could even be harmful. The authorities were acting and, in any case, Sajudis had not submitted its request for permission to hold a rally ten days in advance as required by law.[10] Brazauskas also announced that the International Atomic Energy Agency had refused to investigate the situation, declaring that this was a domestic issue within the Soviet Union.

The party emphasized its unhappiness with Sajudis by calling in Initiative Group party members for a meeting in the Central Committee building on September 12. Group members who were not party members were excluded. Songaila opened the meeting by reading a litany of complaints about Sajudis's activity, declaring that the party was receiving many letters of complaint from the public. He again reminded the group that the party had originated the idea of perestroika, and he specifically criticized the editorial policies of Sajudzio zinios.

The Sajudis representatives responded with complaints of their own, emphasizing their problems in obtaining favorable press coverage, and the two sides went on to discuss problems of "sovereignty" and "economic self-sufficiency" at length. In all, the Sajudis representatives left the meeting feeling that there had been a reasonable exchange of views, and that evening, when the Initiative Group met to consider proposals for its program, the discussions with the party were considered to have been routine — there seemed no reason for special concern.

At Sajudis's meeting with representatives of its support groups on Tuesday, September 13, Ignalina stood


first on the agenda. Vaisvila told the group's supporters that officials in Snieckus had not yet responded to the committee's request for official permission to meet, and he went on to discuss plans for the demonstration. Virgilius Cepaitis suddenly interrupted him with the news that the Snieckus officials had forbidden holding a rally. Vaisvila calmly turned to the audience and announced that the demonstration would go ahead anyway; Juozaitis added, to strong applause, that a priest would say a mass and that this could not be labeled a rally.

The demonstration would obviously not be able to realize Buracas's ideal of 100,000 people blockading the plant. Speakers at Sajudis's meeting pointed out that schools were under orders not to allow children to leave early so as to accompany their parents for the weekend. Without a rally the demonstration would not have a focal point. Vaisvila insisted that it must go ahead and began pointing out alternatives. When someone in the audience asked how the group could possibly learn of the final plans with only three days intervening before the action, another voice shouted out, "Sakadolskis will tell us!" The suggestion drew laughter, but Vaisvila was in fact to use this alternative.

Romas Sakadolskis, as the Lithuanian voice of the Voice of America, had his own place in the ferment in Lithuania. Conservatives, reformers, and radicals alike listened to his broadcasts and quoted him to make their points in discussions. He actively used his telephone to collect news in Lithuania, and the people he reached sometimes decided to take advantage of this to send out their own information. (In a telephone interview on January 18, 1989, Sakadolskis stated that he called people in Lithuania as a matter of policy.) When Sakadolskis appeared in Vilnius as a correspondent at the Sajudis


congress in October, he was a great celebrity, constantly surrounded by people who wanted to speak with him.

In preparing for the demonstration at Ignalina, Vaisvila spoke with Sakadolskis; as he later explained it over Lithuanian television, "I admit that I gave interviews to Voice of America three times, and I want to say that I had to." Although first contacts with the government on the proposed action in Ignalina had been good, he continued, after September 10 Sajudis had no access to the press on this question. The people of Snieckus were being frightened by rumormongers. "Unfortunately, the only means to publicize this action, apart from our small Sajudzio zinios, was the Voice of America. That should be, I would say, a lesson for our mass communications."[11]

Once Vaisvila had completed his presentation at the Initiative Committee's meeting of September 13, the gathering then concentrated on discussing aspects of Sajudis's program. Bronius Kuzmickas, a philosopher, emphasized the need for a clear program on the national question, fully recognizing the rights of the other nationalities of the Soviet Union. Reporting on the group's social program, Buracas, who was chairing the meeting, read its proposals to do away with the privileges of the nomenklatura, the political and bureaucratic elite in Soviet society.

Speakers from the floor raised points on all issues, some of them relevant and some of them not. Buracas cut short one man who spoke about the need to "save the nation," saying that the assembly needed concrete proposals, not emotional statements. Amid more serious proposals, another speaker suggested making paganism Lithuania's national religion; the Lithuanians, after all, had been the last pagan people in Europe in


the fourteenth century. The Initiative Group took all suggestions under advisement.

The question of Sajudis's relationship with the government arose when Kazimiera Prunskiene spoke about the meeting with the Central Committee the previous day. She read an ELTA news release, to appear in the press the next morning, Wednesday, which basically summarized Songaila's list of complaints and ignored the substantive discussion between the party leaders and Sajudis. "Can we be satisfied with this?" she asked, and the question was opened for discussion.

Responding to complaints about Sajudzio zinios, Juozaitis warned that the government's press release only served to intensify the spirit of confrontation. "Without the Central Committee," he declared, "we could long ago have reorganized Lithuania without nationalism." His newspaper, to be sure, was not without its faults, he admitted. This type of endeavor had no precedent in the history of Soviet Lithuania, but he argued that in only one case could the newspaper be accused of "causing" a problem.

Juozaitis already knew of the criticisms of his stewardship. Conservative members of the Initiative Group such as the writer Petkevicius and the academician Buracas had deplored his outburst during the meeting of August 23, and they wished Sajudzio zinios could be more cautious. Juozaitis called the assembly's attention to the statement of editorial policy that he had published in the thirty-first issue of Sajudzio zinios, and he urged people to let him know of their complaints. The assembly was not about to challenge him. When a woman asked from the floor whether it might not be better to have a professional journalist edit the newspaper, another voice shouted out, "Laurinciukas" — Al-


bertas Laurinciukas was still formally the editor of Tiesa — and the discussion dissolved into laughter.[12]

Although the Sajudis supporters reacted sternly and determinedly to the tone of the party's press release, the publication of the release in the morning papers of September 14 stimulated strong concerns among the public as a whole. Combined with the refusal to permit a demonstration at Ignalina and with the publication on Friday the sixteenth of Eismuntas's account of his meeting with Sajudis, a new feeling of confrontation grew. Of the people I spoke with privately, only one, a journalist, suggested that the party leadership recognized that it was losing and that it was therefore struggling to save face; otherwise I heard only pessimistic expectations of trouble. Nevertheless, a few days later the Central Committee issued a supplementary statement noting that the meeting with Sajudis members had resulted in agreement to allow the Initiative Committee greater access to the media.

The concerns may well have contributed to keeping down the crowd in the Ignalina demonstration on Saturday, but there was no serious confrontation; both Sajudis and government seemed determined to avoid trouble. About 15,000 people gathered in all, guided into place by Sajudis volunteers who stood with banners along the roadside to direct traffic. The staff at Ignalina gave visitors guided tours of the power plant. The pastor of a neighboring church addressed the demonstrators, welcoming them and praising Vaisvila's work, but instead of saying a mass he chose to lead the group in just two prayers, an Our Father and a Hail Mary.[13]

In the week following the demonstration at Ignalina, Sajudis's power seemed again on the rise. On Septem-


ber 19 the Initiative Group held its first late-night television forum. With the journalist Ceslovas Jursenas as moderator, Petkevicius, Landsbergis, Prunskiene, Ozolas, Vaisvila, Juzeliunas, and Marcinkevicius had the opportunity to speak freely on topics telephoned in by viewers. Prunskiene spoke of economic autonomy, Vaisvila admitted his conversation with Voice of America, and Juzeliunas discussed the consequences of Stalinism. Petkevicius repeated his thesis that everything new and valuable in society came from the intelligentsia. The television authority's newspaper, Kalba Vilnius, subsequently published a transcript of the forum.

Sajudis's relationship with the government and party took yet another positive step forward with the appearance of its legal publication, Atgimimas (Rebirth), formally announced as a weekly but in fact of uncertain frequency. Its editor, Romualdas Ozolas, had told the Initiative Group on September 6 that there would be 8,000 copies printed in Lithuanian, 2,000 in Russian; if need be, more copies could then be photocopied — Sajudis had a lot of paper suitable for photocopying but not for printing. The first issue would reprint the speeches given at Vingis Park on August 23, and the copy would not be submitted to censorship.

Asked how this publication would relate to Sajudzio zinios, Ozolas explained that Atgimimas would be Sajudis's publication for the Lithuanian republic and Sajudzio zinios would become the publication of the Vilnius Sajudis Council. (He allowed the possibility that the two publications might on occasion disagree with each other.) Individual copies would cost forty kopecks. (Ozolas explained that they had calculated the cost per copy and then added 100 percent to establish the price.) Although Ozolas on September 6 insisted that the first


issue was ready to go to print, the organizers kept running into problems. On the positive side, however, new sources of printing paper arose, and on September 13 Ozolas announced that the first issue would have a run of at least 30,000 copies. In the final count, the first run of issue no. 1, dated September 16, was 30,000 copies, followed by a second run of another 70,000.

The publication established Sajudis's official status in society. Atgimimas was legal, even uncensored; Sajudzio zinios maintained its semilegal existence, also uncensored, taking the name "Publication of the Vilnius Council of the Movement for Perestroika in Lithuania" with its thirty-ninth issue on September 20. To be sure, neither publication was available through subscription; that would require registration by the authorities. Sajudis was not yet a legal entity or juridical person, but with the Initiative Group hard at work elaborating its program for the upcoming Constituent Congress, that seemed only a matter of time.


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