Vytautas Skuodis (1929-2016) was born in Chicago. His family moved to Lithuania in 1930. In 1948, he graduated from a gymnasium in Panevėžys, and in 1948-1953 he studied geology at Vilnius University. In 1953-1969, he worked as a researcher and manager in the all-union institute Hidroproekt, organising geological investigations for building various power stations in Latvia, Russia and Belorussia. In 1964-1968, he was a PhD student in Moscow, and obtained his PhD degree (in the Soviet research system, he was a ‘candidate of science’) in geology and mineralogy in 1969. In 1969-1979, he was a lecturer and associate professor at Vilnius University. He published 30 research articles. In 1972, he started his dissident activities.
In 1979, Skuodis joined the dissident organisation the Lithuanian Helsinki Group, which aimed to register violations by the Soviet regime, to inform society and Western countries about the condition of human rights in Soviet Lithuania, and to make written protests about violations of human rights. At the end of 1979, he was dismissed from his position at Vilnius University because of his anti-Soviet attitudes and activities. In 1980, he was arrested and sentenced to prison. KGB investigators used Skuodis’ collaboration with the underground publication Alma Mater, and initiating and editing the underground intellectual journal Perspektyvos, as criminal evidence against him. During its search of Skuodis’ flat, the KGB found the manuscript of his book Dvasinis genocidas Lietuvoje (Spiritual Genocide in Lithuania), which was added to the evidence against him.
At that time, Perspektyvos was the most sought-after underground publication among the Lithuanian intelligentsia.
The KGB monitored Skuodis, and he remained in jail until 1987. After that, he went to the USA, where he joined Lithuanian and international organisations involved in promoting the freedom and democracy movement in Eastern Europe. He gave a number of public lectures in the USA, Canada, South America, Australia and Europe. In 1987-1988, he met Pope John Paul II, and the US president Ronald Reagan.