The Archive of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989

A Catch-22 December 1989, Groundhog-Day Production. Presenting the Personal Research & Scholarship of Richard Andrew Hall, Ph.D.

Archive for March 14th, 2010

decembrie 1989: in privinta ‘turistilor rusi,” cum au reactionat Securitatea si Ambasadorul Roman la Moscova? (documentele din Arhivele Ministerului Afacerilor Externe (AMAE), Telegrame, publicate de CWIHP)

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on March 14, 2010

Este nemaipomenit ca documentele diplomatice disponsible de pe site-ul Wilson Center (Cold War International History Project,, vezi mai jos) n-au fost invocate, retraduse, sau folosite in nici un fel in Romania pana acum.  Daca cu adevarat regimul ceausist si mai ales securitatea credeau ca acesti “turisti rusi” sau “turisti sovietici” au fost agenti acoperiti si faceau o lovitura de stat, incepand cu evenimentele din Timisoara, de ce tocmai ei (“turisti rusi” in tranzit) au fost lasati sa calatoreasca prin tara dupa 17 decembrie 1989, si de ce “pericolul” acesta n-a fost ridicat in discutii diplomatice cu sovietici in aceste zile?

Este semnificativ ca Generalul Iulian Vlad, seful Securitatii, n-a suflat nici o vorba in timpul sedintei Comitetului Politic Executiv al CC al P.C.R. din ziua de 17 decembrie 1989 despre presupusi rolul “turistilor rusi” in ceea ce se intimpla la Timisoara.   DE FAPT IN NICI O TELECONFERINTA SAU SEDINTA CPExului din saptamana 17-22, NIMENI (CU EXCEPTIA LUI NICOLAE CEAUSESCU) N-AU VORBIT DESPRE ASA-ZISUL ROL AL “TURISTILOR RUSI/SOVIETIC” (De exemplu, vezi faptul ca nici Radu Balan sau Ion Coman n-a mentionat acest lucru in teleconferinta de 17 de la Timisoara  De ce?  Ideea venea din mintea lui Nicolae Ceausescu si faptul ca securistii si altii folosesc acest “argument” dupa decembrie 1989 vine numai dintr-o perspectiva RETROSPECTIVA:


In his 1992 book, he [the chief of the Securitate’s Counter-espionage Directorate, Colonel Filip Teodorescu] developed further on this theme, specifically focusing on the role of “Soviet tourists:”

“There were few foreigners in the hotels, the majority of them having fled the town after lunch [on 17 December] when the clashes began to break out. The interested parties remained. Our attention is drawn to the unjustifiably large number of Soviet tourists, be they by bus or car. Not all of them stayed in hotels. They either had left their buses or stayed in their cars overnight. Border records indicate their points of entry as being through northern Transylvania. They all claimed they were in transit to Yugoslavia. The explanation was plausible, the Soviets being well-known for their shopping trips. Unfortunately, we did not have enough forces and the conditions did not allow us to monitor the activities of at least some of these ‘tourists’” (Teodorescu, 1992, p. 92).

As I have written before, if it was obvious before 18 December, as these Ceausescu regime officials claim, that “Soviet tourists” were involved in the events in Timisoara, then why was it precisely “Soviet travelers coming home from shopping trips to Yugoslavia” who were the only group declared exempt from the ban on “tourism” announced on that day (see AFP, 19 December 1989 as cited in Hall 2002b)?  In fact, an Agent France-Presse correspondent reported that two Romanian border guards on the Yugoslav frontier curtly told him:  “Go back home, only Russians can get through”!!!  The few official documents from the December events that have made their way into the public domain show the Romanian Ambassador to Moscow, Ion Bucur, appealing to the Soviets to honor the Romanian news blackout on events in Timisoara, but never once mentioning—let alone objecting to—the presence or behavior of “Soviet tourists” in Romania during these chaotic days of crisis for the Ceausescu regime (CWHIP, “New Evidence on the 1989 Crisis in Romania,” 2001).  It truly strains the imagination to believe that the Romanian authorities were so “frightened” of committing a diplomatic incident with the Soviets that they would allow Soviet agents to roam the country virtually unhindered, allowing them to go anywhere and do anything they wanted.

traducere de catre Marius Mioc

După cum am mai scris înainte, dacă ar fi fost vădit înainte de 18 decembrie, după cum afirmă aceşti oficiali ai regimului Ceauşescu, că “turiştii sovietici” erau amestecaţi în evenimentele din Timişoara, de ce au fost tocmai “călătorii sovietici întorcîndu-se din excursiile pentru cumpărături din Iugoslavia” singurul grup care a fost exceptat de la interzicerea turismului anunţată în acea zi (vezi Agenţia France Presse, 19 decembrie 1989, după cum a fost citată în Hall, R. A., 2002, “The Securitate Roots of a Modern Romanian Fairy Tale: The Press, the Former Securitate, and the Historiography of December 1989” [Rădăcinile securiste ale unui basm românesc modern: Presa, fosta securitate şi istoriografia lui decembrie 1989], “Part 2: Tourists are Terrorists and Terrorists are Tourists with Guns” [Partea a 2-a: Turiştii sînt terorişti şi teroriştii sînt turişti înarmaţi], Radio Free Europe “East European Perspectives” [Radio Europa Liberă “Perspective est-europene], Vol. 4, nr. 8). În fapt, un corespondent al agenţiei France Press a relatat că doi grăniceri români de la graniţa cu Iugoslavia i-au spus tăios: “Întoarce-te acasă, numai ruşii au voie să treacă”!!! Puţinele documente oficiale despre evenimentele din decembrie 1989 care au devenit disponibile public îl arată pe ambasadorul român la Moscova, Ion Bucur, cerîndu-le sovieticilor să nu relateze despre evenimentele din Timişoara (după cum făcea şi presa română), dar fără să menţioneze niciodată, cu atît mai puţin să protesteze, faţă de prezenţa sau comportamentul “turiştilor sovietici” în România în timpul acelor zile haotice de criză pentru regimul Ceauşescu (CWHIP, “New Evidence on the 1989 Crisis in Romania,” 2001). Este o forţare a imaginaţiei să se creadă că autorităţile române erau aşa de “înfricoşate” de a provoca un incident diplomatic cu Uniunea Sovietică încît ar fi îngăduit agenţilor sovietici să cutreiere ţara nestingheriţi, lăsîndu-i să meargă oriunde şi să facă orice doresc.


Document 1

Telegram from the Romanian Embassy in Moscow

to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Bucharest)

18 December 1989, 12:35 pm

Comrade Ion Stoian, Candidate Member of the Executive Political Committee


of the Central

Committee of the Romanian Communist Party (CC PCR), Foreign Minister,

1. We took note of your instructions (in your telegram nr. 20/016 750 of 17 December



and we will conform to the orders given.

We have taken actions to implement your instructions, both at the consular section of the

Embassy and at the General Consulate in Kiev.

[Furthermore] we would [like to] inform that the Director of the TAROM


office [in

Moscow] received, through his own channels, instructions regarding foreign citizens traveling to

our country.

2. Considering the importance of the problem and the nature of the activity of issuing

visas to Soviet citizens, we would like to mention the following problems [which have arisen],

[problems] to which we would like you to send us your instructions as soon as possible.

A. Beginning with the morning of 18 December of this year, Soviet citizens have begun

to make telephonic inquiries to the Embassy from border crossings into Romania, implying that

there are hundreds of vehicles which are not allowed to cross [the border] into our country. [W]e

anticipate that the Soviet government will ask for an explanation with regard to this decision

taken [by the Romanian government]. We ask that instructions be sent explaining the way we

must deal with the situation if it arises.

B. Continuously, at the Consular Section, we have given transit visas to Soviet Jews

who have the approval [of the Soviet government] to emigrate to Israel, as well as to foreign

students studying in the Soviet Union. Since the director of the TAROM office has received

instructions that he is to continue boarding transit passengers without any changes, we would like

to request instructions with regard to the actions we must take in such situations.

C. Considering the great number of Romanian citizens that are living in the Soviet

Union who during the holidays travel to our country, we would like to know if we should issue

them visas.

D. For business travel to Romania, the instructions given to TAROM are that the

applicants must show proof [of an invitation] from the ir Romanian partners.

Please inform whether we must inform the Soviet government of this requirement since

the official Soviet delegations use, for their travels to Bucharest, exclusively AEROFLOT



that we have no means of [us] controlling the planning of such travels.




The 17 December telegram is not available at this time.


The state-owned Romanian National Airline— Transportul Aerian Român


Soviet Airlines.

Page 5

We are experiencing similar problems in dealing with the possible situation of Soviet

citizens with tourist passports, which have received a visa prior to the [17 December 1989]

instructions and who will be using AEROFLOT for their travel to Romania.

E. We request that the Civil Aviation Department send instruction to the TAROM office

regarding the concrete actions that should be taken in connection with the 20 December flight

[from Moscow to Bucharest] so that they are able to make the final decision, during boarding,

regarding the passengers [that are to be allowed on to the plane].

We would [like to] mention that the list of passengers is given to the Director of

TAROM, from AEROFLOT or other [travel] companies, without any mention of the purpose of

the trip.

(ss) [Ambassador] Ion Bucur

[Source: Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs— Arhivele Ministerului Afacerilor Externe

(AMAE), Moscow/1989, vol. 10, pp. 271-272. Translated for CWIHP by Mircea Munteanu]

Document 2

Telegram from the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Bucharest) to all Embassies

19 December 1989

Cde. Chief of Mission,

In case you are asked during the exercise of your diplomatic attributes (we repeat: only in

case you are asked) about the so-called events taking place in Timisoara, reiterate, with all clarity,

that you have no knowledge of such events. After this short answer, and without allowing you to

be drawn into a prolonged discussion, resolutely present the following:

We strongly reject any attempts to intervene in the internal affairs of S.R. Romania, a free

and independent state. [We reject] any attempt to ignore the fundamental attributes of our

national independence and sovereignty, any attempt at [harming] the security interests of our

country, of violating its laws. The Romanian [government] will take strong actions against any

such attempts, against any actions meant to provoke or cause confusion, [actions] initiated by

reactionary circles, anti-Romanian circles, foreign special services and espionage organizations.

The [Romanian] socialist state, our society, will not tolerate under any circumstances a violation

of its vital interests, of the Constitution, and will take [any] necessary action to maintain the strict

following of the letter of the law, the rule of law, without which the normal operation of all

spheres of society would be impossible. No one, no matter who he is, is allowed to break the laws

of the country without suffering the consequences of his actions.

Instruct all members of the mission to act in conformity with the above instructions.

Inform [the Minister of Foreign Affairs] immediately of any discussions on this topic.

Aurel Duma [Secretary of State


, MFA]

[Source: Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs— Arhivele Ministerului Afacerilor Externe

(AMAE), Ministry Telegrams, vol. 4/1989, pp. 387-388. Translated for CWIHP by Mircea



Assistant Deputy Minister— Secretar de State.

Page 6

Document 3

Telegram from the Romanian Embassy in Moscow

to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

21 December 1989, 7:35 am

Cde. Ion Stoica, Minister [of Foreign Affairs],

Cde. Constantin Oancea, Deputy Minister [of Foreign Affairs],



On 20 December 1989, during a discussion with G. N. Gorinovici, Director of the

General Section for Socialist Countries in Europe, I expressed [the Romanian government’s] deep

indignation in regards with the inaccurate and tendentious way in which the Soviet mass media is

presenting the allegedevents taking place in Timisoara. I stressed that the stories made public by

radio and television are based on private, unofficial sources, and not on truthful information.

Many stories refer to the Hungarian press agency MTI, which is known for its antagonistic

attitude towards our country. I mentioned that V. M. Kulistikov, Deputy Chief Editor of the

publication Novoe Vremia, during an interview given to Radio Svoboda, expressed some opinions

vis-ŕ-vis Romania with are unacceptable. I brought to his [Gorinovici’s] attention the fact that on

19 December, Soviet television found it necessary to air news regarding the events in Timisoara

in particular, and in Romania in general, four separate occasions.

I argued that such stories do not contribute to the development of friendly relations

between our two countries and that they cannot be interpreted in any other way but as an

intervention in the internal affairs concerning [only] the Romanian government. I asked that the

Soviet government take action to insure the cessation of this denigration campaign against our

country and also to prevent possible public protests in front of our embassy. Gorinovici said that

he will inform the leadership of the Soviet MFA. In regards with the problems raised during our

discussion, he said that, in his opinion, no campaign of denigrating Romania is taking place in the

Soviet Union. “The mass media had to inform the public of the situation,” Gorinovici indicated,

in order to “counter-balance the wealth of information reaching the Soviet Union through

Western airwaves. Keeping silent on the subject would have only [served to] irritate the Soviet

public.” Following this statement, he recapitulated the well-known Soviet position with regards to

the necessity of allowing a diversity of opinions and ideas be expressed in the context of

informing the Soviet public about world events.

(ss) [Ambassador] Ion Bucur

[Source: Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs— Arhivele Ministerului Afacerilor Externe,

Moscow/1989, vol. 10, pp. 297-298. Translated for CWIHP by Mircea Munteanu.]


Directia Relatii I— Directorate 1, Socialist Countries, Europe

Page 7

Document 4

Informational Note from the Romanian Embassy in Moscow

to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Bucharest)

21 December 1989, 8:00 am

Cde. Ion Stoian, Minister of Foreign Affairs,

Cde. Costantin Oancea, Deputy Foreign Minister,


During the evening of 20 December 1989, I was invited in audience at I. P. Aboimov,

Deputy Foreign Minister of USSR. He related to me the following:

1. Lately, the Soviet press published news in connection to events unfolding in Romania,

specifically with the events in Timisoara. It is true that some of the published materials are based,

generally, on foreign [i.e. not Romanian] sources. It is evident that the [Soviet] mass media need

information on the basis of which to inform the public. Aside from this, during meetings with

foreign journalists, there were many requests addressed to the Soviet [government] to state its

position in regards with the events taking place in Romania as they were presented by various

press agencies. Furthermore, during his recent visits in Brussels and London, [Foreign Minister

Edward] Shevardnadze


was asked to state his opinion vis-ŕ-vis those events. In London, after

the official talks ended,


the Soviet Foreign Minister had a difficult time convincing [Prime

Minister Margaret] Thatcher that there should be no comments to the press on the events

allegedly taking place in Romania. The [Romanian] Foreign Ministry is also informed that

interest in this matter was expressed during working meetings of the Second Congress of the

People’s Deputies taking place in Moscow at this time.


The [Soviet] ambassador in Bucharest

was instructed to contact the Romanian government and obtain, from authorized officials,

information to confirm or refute the version of the events distributed by foreign press agencies.

To this date, the Soviet Embassy was unable to obtain and transmit any such information.

Due to such problems, the Soviet government asks that the Romanian government send

an informational note, even one that is restricted [cu caracter închis] regarding the events that are

really taking place in Romania. [The Soviet government] is interested in receiving information

that is as comprehensive as possible. If information is not received, it would be extremely

difficult to create an effective set of directions for the Soviet mass media, with which there are,

even so, many difficulties. [The Soviet government] is worried that, based on the news reported

in the press, some of the deputies participating at the sessions, would ask that the 2


Congress of

the People’s Deputies take a position vis-ŕ-vis the alleged events taking place in Romania. The

MFA prepared for the deputies an information note in which it stresses that it does not have any

official information, but it is possible that this argument will not accepted long. Based on the

information available to the MFA, the Congress will adopt a resolution with regards to the US

military actions in Panama.

Of course, there is no connection between the two events. In Panama, a foreign military

intervention is taking place, while in Romania the events are domestic in nature. I. P. Aboimov

stressed his previous request that the Romanian government send, in the spirit of cooperation


Edward Sevardnadze traveled to Brussels and London at the end of 1989. On 19 December he met at

NATO HQ with NATO Secretary General Manfred Woerner and Permanent Representatives of NATO



Prime Minister Thatcher met Shevardnadze in London on 19 December 1989.


The Second Congress of the People’s Deputies began its session on 12 December 1989.

Page 8

between the two countries, an informational note truthfully describing the current situation in the


2. The Soviet MFA received a series of complaints that the border between the Soviet

Union and Romania has been closed for Soviet citizens, especially tourists. The Soviet

government was not previously informed with regards to this development. [T]his omission

causes consternation. The Soviet government is not overly concerned with the situation, but

[notes that] it creates difficulties with tourists that have already paid for and planned their

vacations accordingly.

3. With regards to the above statements, I said that I would, of course, inform Bucharest

of this. At the same time, I expressed the displeasure [of the Romanian government] with the fact

that the Soviet radio, television and newspapers have distributed news regarding events in

Romania taken from foreign news agencies, agencies that are distributing distorted and overtly

antagonistic stories regarding the situation in Romania. I gave concrete examples of such stories

published in newspapers such as Izvestia, Pravda, Komsomolskaia Pravda, Krasnaia Zvezda,

stories distributed by western press agencies as well as the Hungarian Press Agency MTI, which

is known for its antagonistic attitude towards our country. In that context, I mentioned that the

Romanian government has not requested that the Soviet Union inform it concerning events

unfolding in Grozny or Nagornîi-Karabah, nor has it published any news stories obtained from

Western press agencies, believing that those [events] are strictly an internal matter concerning

[only] the Soviet government.

I expressed my displeasure with the fact that some Soviet correspondents in Bucharest—

including the TASS correspondent— have transmitted materials from unofficial sources, which

contain untruthful descriptions of the events and which create in [the mind of] the Soviet public

an erroneous impression of the situation existing in our country. I stressed the point that such

behavior is not conducive to strengthening the relationship between our peoples and

governments, on the contrary, causing [only] serious damage [to said relationship]. I brought to

the attention of the Deputy Foreign Minister in no uncertain terms that a resolution of the

Congress of the People’s Deputies [concerning] the alleged events taking place in Romania

would be an action without precedent in the history of relations between the two countries and

would cause serious damage to the relationship.

At I. P. Aboimov’s question, I described the events regarding the situation of pastor

László Tökes, as described in your memorandum, stressing that this information does not have an

official character. I presented, in no uncertain terms, the decision of [the government of] Romania

to reject any attempts at interference in the internal matters of Romania. I expressed the decision

[of the Romanian leadership] to take any necessary measures against disruptive and diversionary

actions perpetrated by reactionary, anti-Romanian circles, by foreign special services and

espionage agencies (servicii speciale si oficinele de spionaj staine). With regard to the issue of

tourists crossing the border in Romania, I said that I did not posses an official communication in

this regard. I suggested that some temporary measures were adopted due to the need to limit

access of certain groups of tourists [in the country]. [Those limitats were imposed] due to

difficulties in assuring their access to hotel rooms and other related essential conditions. Those

limitations do not apply to business travel or tourists transiting Romania. I reminded [I. P.

Aboimov] that the Soviet government had introduced at different times such limitations on travel

for Romanian tourists to certain regions [of the Soviet Union] (Grozny and Armenia), which

[had] provoked dissatisfaction.

4. The conversation took place in a calm, constructive atmosphere.

(ss) [Ambassador] Ion Bucur

Page 9

[Source: Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs— Arhivele Ministerului Afacerilor Externe

(AMAE), Telegrams, Folder: Moscow/1989, vol. 10, pp. 299-302. Translated for CWIHP by

Mircea Munteanu.]

Document 5

Information Note from the Romanian Embassy in Moscow

to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

21 December 1989, 2:00 pm

Comrade Ion Stoica, Minister of Foreign Affairs,

1. On 21 December 1989, at 12:00 pm, I paid a visit to Deputy Foreign Minister I. P.

Aboimov to whom I presented a copy of the speech given by Comrade Nicolae Ceausescu,

General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party [PCR] and President of the Socialist

Republic of Romania [SRR], on the 20 December 1989 over radio and television. I. P. Aboimov

made no comments with regard to the speech. He requested that the Soviet side receive

information as to whether,during the events taking place in Timisoara, any deaths had occurred

and what the current situation in the city was.

2. Aboimov said that during the 19 December discussions between the Soviet ambassador

in Bucharest and Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu, the latter expressed his disapproval with the official

declarations made by Soviet officials concerning the events in Timisoara. He [Ceausescu] said

that those [actions taking place in Timisoara] are the result of strategies developed beforehand by

[member nations of] the Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO). [Ceausescu] suggested that certain

officials in Bucharest told ambassadors from socialist countries that they have information with

respect to the intention of the Soviet Union to intervene militarily in Romania.

As for the so-called official declarations [Aboimov added], they probably refer to a reply

made by Cde. E[dward] Shevardnadze, [Soviet] Minister of Foreign Affairs to a question from a

Western journalist during his trip to Brussels. [The question] referred to the events in Timisoara

and [the question of] whether force was used there. Cde. Shevardnadze answered that “I do not

have any knowledge [of this], but if there are casualties, I am distressed.” Aboimov said that, if

indeed there are casualties, he considered [Shevardnadze’s] answer justified. He stressed that E.

Shevardnadze made no other specific announcement in Brussels [with regards to the events in

Timisoara]. Concerning the accusations that the actions [in Timisoara] were planned by the

Warsaw Pact, and specifically the declarations with regard to the intentions of the USSR,


Aboimov said that, personally, and in a preliminary fashion, he qualifies the declarations as

“without any base, not resembling reality and apt to give rise to suspicion. It is impossible that

anybody will believe such accusations. Such accusations”— Aboimov went on to say— “have

such grave repercussions that they necessitate close investigation.”

He stressed that the basis of interaction between the USSR and other governments rested

on the principles of complete equality among states, mutual respect, and non-intervention in

internal affairs.

(ss) [Ambassador] Ion Bucur

[Source: Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs— Arhivele Ministerului Afacerilor Externe

(AMAE), Moscow/1989, vol. 10, pp. 303-304. Translated for CWIHP by Mircea Munteanu.]


Ceausescu repeatedly accused the Soviet Union in December 1989 of planning an invasion of Romania.

Page 10

Document 6

Telegram from the Romanian Embassy in Moscow

to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Bucharest)

22 December 1989, 07:30 am

Cde. Constantin Oancea, Deputy [Foreign Affairs] Minister

Directorate 1— Socialist Countries, Europe

During a conversation between N. Stânea and V. L. Musatov, Deputy Director of the

International Department of the Central Committee (CC) of Communist Party of the Soviet Union

(CPSU) [Musatov], referring to the situation in Eastern European countries, declared:

The processes taking place [in Eastern Europe] are the result of objective needs.

Unfortunately, these processes taking place are [sometimes] incongruous. In some countries, such

as Hungary and Poland, the changes that took place went outside the initial limits planned by the

[local] communists, who have [now] lost control. The situation is also becoming dangerous in

Czechoslovakia and the German Democratic Republic [GDR]. At this time, in Bulgaria the

[Communist] Party is trying to maintain control, however, it is unknown which way the situation

will evolve. As far as it is concerned, the CPSU is trying to give aid to the communists.

Representatives of the CC of the CPSU have been or are at this time in the GDR [and]

Czechoslovakia to observe the situation personally. The attitude towards the old leadership is

regrettable. For example, [East German Communist Party leader] E[rich] Honecker will be

arrested. In the majority of these countries there are excesses against the communists. The Soviet

government is preoccupied with the future of “Our Alliance.” [The Soviet government] is

especially interested in the evolution of events in the GDR, in the background of the discussions

taking place regarding reunification. The Soviet Union is following all these events, but is not

getting involved in the internal affairs of the respective countries.


(ss) [Ambassador] Ion Bucur

[Source: Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs— Arhivele Ministerului Afacerilor Externe

(AMAE), Moscow/1989, vol. 10, p. 313. Translated for CWIHP by Mircea Munteanu.]

Document 7

Telegram from the Romanian Embassy in Moscow

to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Bucharest)

22 December 1989, 04:20 pm

Cde. Ion Stoian, Minister of Foreign Affairs,

Page 11

On 22 December 1989, at 02:00 pm I. P. Aboimov, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister,

called me at the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Accompanying me was I. Rîpan, [Embassy]

secretary. V. A. Lapsin, [Soviet MFA] secretary was also present.

Aboimov said that he was instructed to present, on behalf of the Soviet leadership, the

following reply to the message sent [by the Romanian government] through the Soviet

ambassador in Bucharest [during his discussion with Nicolae Ceausescu on 19 December].

“The message sent [by] the Romanian nation on 20 December of this year, has been

carefully examined in Moscow. We consider the problems raised in the message as very serious,


since they are dealing with the basic issues of our collaboration.

In the spirit of sincerity, characteristic for our bilateral relations, we would like to

mention that we are surprised by its tone and the accusations regarding the position and role of

the Soviet Union with respect to the events taking place in Timisoara. We reject wholeheartedly

the statements with regard to the anti-Romanian campaign supposedly taking place in the Soviet

Union, not to mention the accusation that the actions against Romania have allegedly planned by

the Warsaw Treaty Organization [WTO]. Such accusations are unfounded and absolutely

unacceptable. Just as absurd are the declarations of certain Romanian officials who are suggesting

that the Soviet Union is preparing to intervene in Romania. We are starting, invariably, from the

idea that, in our relations with allied nations, as well as with all other nations, the principles of

sovereignty, independence, equality of rights, non-intervention in the internal affairs. These

principles have been once again confirmed during the [WTO] Political Consultative Committee

summit in Bucharest.

It is clear that the dramatic events taking place in Romania are your own internal

problem. The fact that during these events deaths have occured has aroused deep grief among the

Soviet public. The declaration adopted by the Congress of the People’s Deputies is also a

reflection of these sentiments.

Furthermore, I would like to inform you that our representative at the UN Security

Council has received instructions to vote against convening the Security Council for [the purpose

of] discussing the situation in Romania, as some countries have proposed. We consider that this

would be an infringement of the sovereignty of an independent state by an international


We want to hope that, in the resolution of the events in Romania, wisdom and realism

will prevail and that political avenues to solve the problems to the benefit of [our] friend, the

Romanian nation, will be found.

Our position comes out of our sincere desire not to introduce into our relationship

elements of suspicion or mistrust, out of our desire to continue our relations normally, in the

interest of both our nations, [and in the interest of] the cause of peace and socialism.

I. P. Aboimov asked that this message be sent immediately to Bucharest.

(ss) [Ambassador] Ion Bucur

[Source: Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs— Arhivele Ministerului Afacerilor Externe

(AMAE), Telegrame, Folder Moscow/1989, vol. 10, pp. 324-325. Translated for CWIHP by

Mircea Munteanu]


Ceausescu had accused the Soviet leadership, in cooperation with “other Warsaw Pact members” of

masterminding the events taking place in Timisoara, and of preparing an attack on Romania.


e-Dossier No. 5

New Evidence on the 1989 Crisis in Romania

Documents Translated and Introduced

by Mircea Munteanu


Recently released Romanian documents translated by the Cold War International History

Project (CWIHP) shed new light on how, in December 1989, the dramatic albeit mostly peaceful

collapse of Eastern Europe’s communist regimes came to its violent crescendo with the toppling

and execution of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Following Solidarity’s electoral victory

in Poland, the demise of Communist authority in Hungary, the fall of Erich Honecker, a close

friend and ally of Ceausescu, and, finally, the deposing of Bulgaria’s Todor Zhivkov, Romania

had remained the last Stalinist bulwark in Eastern Europe. Much to everybody’s surprise,

however, an explosion of popular unrest in mid December 1989 over Securitate actions in

Timisoara quickly engulfed the Ceausescu regime, leading to the dictator’s ouster and execution.

CWIHP previously documented from Russian sources how, confronted with the violent

turmoil in Romania, the US administration sought intervention by the Soviet Union on behalf of

the oppositionforces. On Christmas Eve, 24 December 1989, with Moscow some eight hours

ahead of Washington, US Ambassador Jack Matlock went to the Soviet Foreign Ministry and met

with Deputy Foreign Minister I. P. Aboimov. According to the Soviet documents, the message

Matlock delivered— while veiled in diplomatic indirection— amounted to an invitation for the

Soviets to intervene in Romania. The Russian documents recorded that Matlock, apparently on

instructions from Washington, “suggested the following option: what would the Soviet Union do

if an appropriate appeal came from the [opposition] Front? He let us know that under the present

circumstances the military involvement of the Soviet Union in Romanian affairs might not be

regarded in the context of ‘the Brezhnev doctrine.’” Repudiating “any interference in the

domestic affairs of other states,” Aboimov— probably referring to the then ongoing US invasion

of Panama— proposed instead “that the American side may consider that ‘the Brezhnev doctrine’

is now theirs as our gift.”


The newly accessible Romanian documents, obtained by Romanian historians Vasile

Preda and Mihai Retegan, bring to light the Soviet reaction to the Romanian events in Timisoara

and Bucharest through the perspective of the Romanian ambassador in Moscow, Ion Bucur. His

cables, now declassified, illustrate the isolated and paranoid stance of the Ceausescu regime at the

height of its final crisis.

The events of December 1989 in Romania started, inconspicuously enough, with the

attempted relocation of the ethnic Hungarian Calvinist pastor László Tökés from his parish in

Timisoara. The failed attempts of the police (Militia) forces, joined by the secret police

(Securitate), to remove the pastor from his residence enraged the local population. Dispelling the

so-called “historical discord” between Hungarians and Romanians in the border region, the

population of Timisoara united together to resist the abuses of the regime.

Ceausescu’s reaction was a violent outburst. Blaming “foreign espionage agencies” for

inciting “hooligans” the ordered the Militia, the Securitate, the patriotic guards and the army to

use all force necessary to repress the growing challenge to the “socialist order.” The repression

caused over 70 deaths in the first few days alone; hundreds suffered injuries. By 20 December

however, it became clear that the popular uprising could not be put down without causing

massive casualties, an operation which the army did not want to undertake while Ceausescu was


For more information, please contact the CWIHP at or 202.691.4110 or Mircea

Munteanu at or 202.691.4267


See Thomas Blanton, “When did the Cold War End” in CWIHP Bulletin #10, (March 1998) pp. 184-191.

Page 3

out of the country. After the army withdrew in the barracks on 20 December, the city was

declared “liberated” by the demonstrators.

Ceausescu returned from a trip in Iran on 20 December and immediately convened a

session of the Politburo. He demanded that a demonstration be organized in Bucharest

showcasing the support of the Bucharest workers for his policies. The demonstration proved to be

a gross miscalculation. The popular resentment had, by that time, reached a new peak: The

demonstration quickly degenerated into chaos and erupted in an anti-Ceausescu sentiment. The

violent suppression of the Bucharest unrest rivaled that of Timisoara.


Securitate, police and army

forces fired live ammunition into the population in Piata Universitatii (University Plaza) and

close to Piata Romana (Roman Square).

The following documents show the attempts of the Romanian regime to maintain secrecy

on the events taking place in Romania— even with regard to its increasingly estranged Soviet ally.

From restricting the access of Russian tourists in Romania beginning with 18 December


(Document No. 1) to the demands made by the Romanian embassy in Moscow to the Soviet

leadership to prevent the Soviet media from publishing news reports about “alleged events”

taking place in Timisoara, Cluj and, later, Bucharest (Documents Nos. 4 and 5),Bucharest sought

to limit the damage to the regime’s image of stability. Afraid that information about the events

taking place in Romania would tarnish Ceausescu’s image of “a world leader,” the Foreign

Ministry instructed the Romanian embassies not to respond to any questions concerning the

“alleged” events and demanded that all actions taken by the Romanian government were

legitimate by virtue of its sovereignty. (Document No. 2).

The documents also present a picture of a regime grasping at straws, accusing even

former allies of conspiracy, and believing that isolation would insure its survival. Ceausescu’s

longstanding hysteria about the machinations of “foreign espionage agencies” — and his growing

mistrust towards Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev— reached new heights in his accusation that

turmoil in Romania was used by the Warsaw Pact to oust him (Ceausescu) from office, a

suggestion that struck Aboimov as utter “insanity.” (Documents Nos. 5 and 7). Quite the

contrary, the US-Soviet conversations suggest, was actually the case.


Official statistics place the death figure at 162 dead (73 in Timisoara, 48 in Bucharest, and 41 in the rest

of the country) and 1107 wounded (of which 604 in Bucharest alone).


There were persistent rumors, during and after the 1989 events in Romania that the Soviet KGB sent

numerous agents in Romania in December 1989. Some accounts accused the KGB of attempting to

destabilize the regime while others accused them of attempting to shore it up. Likely both accounts are

somewhat exaggerated. While it is clear that the KGB was interested in obtaining information about the

events, it is unlikely that it attempted to interfere, either way in the unfolding of the events. It is more likely

that the closing of the borders both with the USSR but also with Hungary and Yugoslavia, is likely that

stranded numerous transistors on Romanian territory.

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Presa din 1991: indicatii pretioase despre “turistii rusi” din decembrie 1989

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on March 14, 2010

1) Iulian Vlad (februarie 1991, un articol de catre Mircea Bunea, Adevarul)

2) Gheorghe Roset (martie 1991, revista Europa)

3) Sorin Rosca Stanescu (aprilie 1991, Romania Libera)

4) Radu Balan (iulie 1991, un articol de Radu Ciobotea, revista Flacara)

“Radu Balan ‘isi aminteste’ ca in 18 decembrie la ora 24:00 se indrepta spre IAEM si depasea un grup de zece masini sovietice oprite in 100 de metri de Spitalul Judetean (Rezulta ca in noaptea acea, sub privirile sovieticilor au fost incarcate cadavrele !)”

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