As Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Lithuanian SSR, Paleckis personally signed orders authorising the mass deportation from independent Lithuania of several figures. The former Prime Minister of Lithuania Antanas Merkys, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Juozas Urbšys, were deported to the Russian SFSR with his approval. Lithuania's intelligentsia and its elite were considered to be enemies, and they were some of the first to be sentenced to deportation or death. He worked closely with the NKVD in Lithuania.
Jiří Pallas studied technics and, after emigrating, also system engineering. Between 1972 and 1978, he was one of organisers of folk concerts of songwriters within the association “Šafrán” until its elimination by the State Security (StB) at the end of the 1970s. Vladimír Merta, Vlastimil Třešňák, Dagmar Andrtová-Voňková or Jaroslav Hutka were also members of the association. Pallas and his wife were some of the first signatories to Charter 77 in 1976 and were forced to leave Czechoslovakia in 1977, due to StB’s operation “Asanace”. After his emigration to Sweden, Pallas founded and run the record label “Šafrán 78” between 1979 and 1985. It released LPs by singers and groups banned in Czechoslovakia, as well as well-known recording of Havel’s play “Audience” with actor Pavel Landovský. Pallas was also politically active in exile; he collaborated with “Výbor 21. srpna”, an organisation, activities of which focused on backing resistance against the occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and where the initiative for creating “Fond na podporu Charty 77” (Støttefondet for Charter 77) started.
- Praha, Prague, Czech Republic
- Uppsala, Sweden
Boryana Panayotova is the younger daughter of Sevdalina and Panayot Panayotov and the
sister of Teodora Panayotova. Teodora and Boryana grew up in an environment of
intellectuals critical of the communist regime. Born in Sofia, they also lived
in Chepelare, where their mother was a teacher, and their father, Panayot
Panayotov, was director of the Vassil Dechev Secondary High School. As
children, Boryana and Teodora witnessed the innovative and creative activity of
their parents, and developed critical thinking and self-reflection.
Boryana Panayotova graduated from the University of Sofa in history. She is the
author of textbooks and university-level pedagogical materials. Boryana
Panayotova today lives in Canada and works as a lecturer at Université Laval
(Québec City) and Université Laurentienne (Sudbury).
- Sudbury Ramsey Lake Road 935, Canada P7E 2C6
Born in Shumen in 1934, Sevdalina Panayotova spent her childhood and youth in Sofia, where she graduated from the University of Sofia in Bulgarian philology in 1956. During her studies she became close to Petar Peev and Georgi Konstantinov, who in 1953 attempted to destroy the monument of Stalin in Sofia, but were arrested. Stalin's death on 5 March 1953, which coincided with the planned destruction of the monument, spared them a death sentence. They were sentenced to 20 years in prison in a forced labor camp in Belene on Persin Island. As their follower, Sevdalina was also declared an "enemy of the people", and thus was a subject of observation by State Security throughout her life.
During her student years, 1953-1956 the Sofia home of her parents, Petar and Vena Baychevi, became a center for a large circle of young people who gathered to debated, create, and argue. Another “alternative” place was the so-called "doghouse" on 23 Ivan Rilski street, where Assen Ignatov (a philosophy student, close friend of Sevdalina from Shumen, considered a leading contemporary philosopher; emigrated 1973), Konstantin Pavlov (poet), Mihail Berberov (poet), Uzuna (Dimitar Uzunski, long-time editor of the Shumenska Zarya newspaper, poet, fiction writer), Nella Dancheva (poet, long-time journalist in Shumen), Petko "the mayor", Manol "the dog", and others met and critically discussed the reality of socialism and undertook alternative political work. Together with some of her colleagues, Sevdalina participated in preparing an anti-communist rally, which was to take place on the evening of 7 November 1956, as a show of solidarity with the Hungarian revolution. However, the organizers were arrested, including Sevdalina Panayotova (then with her father’s family name, Baycheva), and the rally fell apart.
From 1959 until her death, Sevdalina Panayotova lived and taught in Chepelare (only living in Sofia during the period 1969 to 1974 with her husband Panayot Panayotov and her two daughters Teodora and Boryana). In 1972, Sevdalina Panayotova led a group of dissident intellectuals such as Rozalia Likova, a professor at the Kliment Ohridski Sofia University, Hristo Sabev (later known as Christopher Sabev), her old friends Petar Peev and Georgi Konstantinov, former students from Chepelare, then current students in Sofia such as Lika and Stefan Marev, Zlatko Kalaydzhiev, Maria Stoeva, and others. They gathered (most often) in the home of Sevdalina’s parents. Apart from political discussions, they read and discussed forbidden literature (documented in their State Security files by day, hour, and minute).
After Georgi Konstantinov, an anarchist who had laid a bomb at the Stalin statue, fled to the West in July 1973, Peter Peev and Sevdalina Panayotova were declared "anarchoterrorists" and accomplices of Georgi Konstantinov, and were accused of belonging to an illegal terrorist organization. In September 1973, Petar Peev was sent to the forced labor camp in Belene on Persin Island for three years, and in November Sevdalina was detained for 40 days at the Investigation Department of State Security at Razvigor Street No. 1 in Sofia. At that time, she was 39 years old, her elder daughter, Teodora, was 13, and her younger daughter, Boryana, 7. The rest of the group were also arrested and interrogated. In Emigrant memories, volume 1, Georgi Konstantinov, through the archives of State Security, proves that the repressive structure of State Security aimed to "collect materials" with the goal of starting a legal process against Georgi Konstantinov, Petar Peev, and Sevdalina Panayotova as organizers of an illegal movement of anarchoterrorists to overthrow communist rule. One of their "successful actions" – in the view of State Security – was the illegal emigration of Georgi Konstantinov. State Security assumed that they associated with Western counterparts. For the collection of "evidence", the State Security used numerous means: eavesdropping, threats, extortion, recruitment, violence (as evidenced by the thousands of pages stored in the State Security archives). Georgi Konstantinov himself says in his book that Peter and Sevdalina were never anarchists or terrorists, and even writes about Sevdalina's "literary circle" in a condescending manner. The investigation of the anarchoterrorists was terminated in the spring of 1974. After her release, in order to avoid exile Sevdalina returned to Chepelare, where she taught, organized a school theater, and wrote for the rest of her life. She turned speech into the main means of her opposition to the socialist regime. The word in all its forms, in writing, in everyday speech, in theater, as a means of education.
The life credo of Sevdalina Panayotova, a third-generation teacher, was that education and upbringing are key factors in the formation of one’s personality and the path to emancipation. Education in the sense of knowledge and scientific approach; analytical thinking in the sense of observance of basic moral norms, regardless of the circumstances. Therefore, developing critical thinking, i.e. questioning the "truths" imposed from the top, among friends, relatives, and above all students, was the Sevdalina Panayotova’s approach to opposition. The forms of her cultural opposition were various: organizing a literary circle, preparing theatrical performances, writing scenes and, in particular, teaching high school with an approach different from those officially accepted. As a teacher, screenwriter, and theater director, Sevdalina Panayotova created plays that were hindered by state institutions, but which have provided different generations with courage and anti-totalitarian thinking.
- Smoljan, Chepelare, Bulgaria 4850
- Sofia, Bulgaria
Teodora Panayotova graduated from Sofia University with Master Degree in Philology and Higher Education. She worked as a lecturer at the Institute for Foreign Students in Sofia; she participated in the informal movements of the 1980s; was co-founder of the teachers and the journalists trade union “Podkrepa”. Actively supporting the political change to democracy, since 10 November 1989, Teodora Panayotova has been working in the oppositional newspapers Reporters 7, Podkrepa and Democracy. She also became member of the the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF): a broad coalition established in December 1989 by a group of non-governmental organizations and restored parties from the period prior to the establishment of the communist regime.
Since their childhood, Teodora and her sister Boryana witnessed the activity of their mother, "who has always provoked the disapproval of the socialist power. As a teacher, screenwriter and theater director, Sevdalina Panayotova, for half of a century, created scenarios and plays that were stopped and obstructed by the institutions, but which raised generations of courage, civic position, activity and anti-communist thinking."
Teodora explains her anticommunist beliefs by the characteristics of the totalitarian regime: "To enforce and to survive, the regime systematically and purposefully destroyed the basic moral norms and transformed the amoral behavior into normality: murder, lawlessness, betrayal, slander, lying, duplicity, falsification, corruption etc. At the same time, the regime held the population subject to fear and terror, which turned paranoia into a constantly mental state, destroying trust among people. And trust is the foundation of every society."
Having beeing parent herself in non-fear and non-obedience, Teodora Panayotova maintains that "the claim that there was no resistance in Bulgaria against the communist regime, comparing it with the 1956 Hungarian uprising, the Czech 1968 revolution and the Polish resistance 1981, is not true. In the first years after 9.IX.1944 there was the so-called Goryanstvo movement. These were militarized bands who fought against the communist regime and who were killed in very cruel way. Periodically in Bulgaria there were groups and individuals who have been against the communist regime, and who therefore spend years in forced labour camps or in prisons, or have been objects of dismissal, interrogations and other repressive measures; or forced to emigrate. One such group was also around Sevdalina Panayotova, whose collection we are presenting."
Her understanding of cultural opposition Teodora Panayotova expresses as follows: "Cultural opposition is an opposition through the means of culture in the narrow sense of the word, i.e. through the forms of art (verbal and non-verbal, of written and oral speech, which includes education). During the 45 years of socialist Bulgaria there was a cultural opposition, which is less expressed in works (written, paintings, sculptures, theatrical and musical) directed openly against the totalitarian power, but more in getting out from the established interpretation of works and breaking the pattern of socialist realism."
- Sofia, Bulgaria