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.

Basescu (aka “Petrov”), the Securitate, and the Investigations of December 1989 (III)

(purely personal views as always; not for reproduction or reuse without author’s permission)

Nu am considerat moralmente necesar sa particip la campaniile de denigrare impotriva lui Traian Basescu. As spune chiar ca mi-au repugnat, pentru ca erau artificiale, false si nedrepte.–Vladimir Tismaneanu

In a hagiographic ode that Vladimir Tismaneanu has recycled many times over the years, he euphemistically refers to unnamed allegations against Traian Basescu: “I didn’t consider it morally necessary to participate in the denigration campaigns against Traian Basescu. I would say that they repulsed me, because they were artificial, false, and unfair.” Of course, Tismaneanu carefully makes sure not to repeat the content of the allegations from these denigration campaigns. We are thus left to guess. Some of them will have to be addressed at another time. Here we can discuss one thing of which we can be pretty sure he had in mind: the allegations regarding Basescu’s Securitate ties. Another word for what Tismaneanu called “denigration” is, in fact, something called, the truth:

Romanian Court Rules Basescu Was Securitate Informer

Marcel Gascón Barberá Bucharest BIRN September 20, 2019 15:51A Romanian court has upheld the conclusion of the country’s official body for the study of the communist secret police – that former president Traian Basescu spied on colleagues and others for the Securitate.

Former Romanian president Traian Basescu worked as an informer for the country’s notorious communist-era secret police, the Securitate, the Bucharest Court of Appeal ruled on Thursday.

The court confirmed the conclusion of an investigation conducted earlier by the National Council for the Study of Securitate Archives, CNSAS, which Basescu has disputed.

Thanks in part to the control and influence of Tismaneanu and his supporters, not much of the original allegations ever saw the light of day in articles published in scholarly publications in the West. Even if inadequate from the longer term perspective, Lavinia Stan deserves credit for at least mentioning the content and context of the allegations regarding Basescu’s Securitate ties in articles from the mid 2000s.

Born in 1951 to a low-ranking army officer in a village by the Black Sea, Basescu graduated from the Constanta a Civil Marine Institute and then worked his way up the hierarchical ladder of the state-owned Navrom commercial fleet to become captain of Romania’s largest commercial ships by 1981. In 1987, he was appointed head of the Navrom office in Antwerp, Belgium, and two years later, he joined the Ministry of Transportation as director of the State Inspectorate of Civil Navigation. Both positions required clearance from, if not outright collaboration with, the Communist Party and the Securitate. After 1989, he became first deputy minister and then minister of transportation in the Roman and Stolojan cabinets. Basescu was first elected to parliament in 1992 on the Front list, and renewed his mandate four years later on the Democratic Party list.

The Social Democrats also accused Basescu of having been a political police informer, based on documents traced back to the Ministry of Defense in late 2004. The charges echoed those leveled earlier by the out-of-parliament Popular Alliance Party. In the latter case a court ordered the accusers to pay Basescu a symbolic compensation because they had not proved the allegations, but cleared them of any intent of slandering him. 11 In the late 1990s, Basescu publicly admitted that he had written numerous reports for the Securitate while stationed in Antwerp and claimed that his file contained so many thousands of pages that it “had to be brought in with a cart.” Historians working on the Securitate archive say that Romanians who traveled or worked abroad were screened by the political police as part of the Atlas program, which, in exchange for passport and permission to work abroad, required members to regularly file reports on their conversations with foreign associates, the foreigners’ comments about the Romanian communist regime, or the attitudes and behavior of their Romanian co-workers. When the press published a list of Constanta a Communist Party members whom the Securitate could ask to act as its eyes and ears, Basescu admitted that he had submitted reports to the Securitate but insisted that he had never engaged in political police actions infringing human rights.

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