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.

Excerpts from ***Caught in the Headlamps: The Pessimist’s Guide to Romania’s “Original Democracy” and the September 1991 Miners’ Rebellion

(purely personal views as always; NOT for republication without author’s prior consent)

Enough time has passed. Below are excerpts from an unfinished, unedited article written mostly in 2003 and destined to be submitted to Radio Free Europe’s Eastern European Perspectives (where I had published twice previously). Illness, life, and the end of that platform put an end to further progress on this article, even though the topic and running it to ground still fascinates me. I have also appended xeroxes of some interesting, relevant articles related to the paper to accompany/supplement it. Please recognize as always this was and continues to reflect strictly personal research and opinions, as well as the fact that this research was and remains incomplete and thus so did and do my conclusions. Thank you!

Dorin Salajan, “Senatorul Voican, ,Legiunea Dreptatii’ si Consulatul sovietic,” Flacara, nr. 1 (8 ianurarie 1992), pp. 6-7.

Petre Barbu, “Vind Programul si Statutul P.S.M., ed, 1991, plata deosebita,” Flacara, nr. 45 (6 noiembrie 1991), p. 3.

“Antimafia”–un Armagedon de Craiova, Adevarul, 3 mai 2002 (online).

Excerpt from Armagedon 7, 2002 (online).


Caught in the Headlamps:  The Pessimist’s Guide to Romania’s

“Original Democracy” and the September 1991 Miners’ Rebellion

Part I:  Armagedon’s Foreshadowing

Like so many of the more complex events in Romania’s recent past, the history of the September 1991 miners’ rebellion remains largely underground and poorly-illuminated.  The first three performances of Romania’s “subterranean blues”—each referred to in Romanian as “mineriada,” an apparent word play on the “Daciada” spectacles of the Ceausescu period—took place in January, February, and June 1990.  The Fourth Mineriada, that of September 1991, toppled Romania’s first popularly-elected government of the post-communist era.  Although not widely-realized, the human costs of the event were similar to those of the more famous Third Mineriada in June 1990:  four people died in the Fourth Mineriada and 455 people sought medical treatment in hospitals, 50 of whom (19 miners and 31 other citizens) had to be interned (Stefanescu, 1995, pp. 166-167; p. 85).  The Fourth Mineriada reshaped the country’s internal politics, left the country economically and politically isolated externally and seemed to, at least for severeal years, cement the idea in the West that Romania was a lost cause. 

The Fourth Mineriada, 24-28 September 1991

According to Domnita Stefanescu in her excellent chronology of the first five years of post-Ceausescu Romania, the violence of the Fourth Mineriada resulted in 455 people going to hospitals to receive medical treatment, 50 of whom (19 miners and 31 other citizens) had to be interned, and four deaths—the numbers in fact quite similar to the Third Mineriada of 13-15 June 1990 when 560 people were treated in hospitals and six people died (Stefanescu, 1995, pp. 166-167; p. 85).  Immediate material damages were estimated at 86 million lei, but as Stefanescu notes “to this must be added the indeterminable losses caused by the rapid decline of the country’s prestige, and the immediate meaningful blocking of economic and financial relations, political, cultural, diplomatic relations, etc.  Practically, all financial links to the outside world were severed…(Stefanescu, 1995, p. 167).”  To that end, Stefanescu points out that among other things, “the opening of interbank trade, the conversion of the leu and the unification of exchange rates, scheduled for 27 September, did not occur,” while entry into the GATT (scheduled for October 1991) was halted (Stefanescu, 1995, p. 167).  Relations with the IMF, EBRD, the then still EEC, and the Council of Europe either broke off abruptly—a delegation of the World Bank fled Bucharest at the time—while PHARE credits of up to $1 billion were delayed (Stefanescu, 1995, p. 167). 

The Former Securitate:  Not Exactly One Big Happy Family

Even among the former Securitate themselves, the picture was much more complex and surprising than the aforementioned scholarly accounts would lead us to believe.  Although key former members of the Ceausescu regime were united in attempting to revise official and popular understandings of the December 1989 Revolution—and of the communist era in general—in order to exculpate themselves and their colleagues, they found it difficult to agree on all issues.  Therefore, for example, after the weekly “Europa” criticized Adrian Paunescu for his discussion of the former Securitate in the pages of his weekly “Totusi Iubirea,” the former Ceausescu court poet responded:  Nor did I get scared when I heard that magazine [i.e. “Europa”] was, in fact, [the work] of the Securitate.  I asked which Securitate and the reply we received was ‘the old one,’ the old Securitate has come back to life [Paunescu, May 1991].  In other words, such a distinction appeared to hold some value and the former Securitate was not simply identical to the SRI or the new security services. 

Pavel Corut, former Securitate officer and contributor to the opposition weekly “Expres Magazin,” became an object of sharp criticism in the opposition press beginning mainly in 1993—seemingly only after his prolific semi-fictional spy novels became bestsellers and/or when he formally aligned himself with the Romanian Party of National Unity (PUNR).  Corut’s books exonerating the Securitate for its role in December 1989 are commonly seen as synonymous with the Securitate view on the Revolution, but although they are as far as the role of the Securitate is concerned, they are not regarding the Army’s Intelligence Directorate (or DIA).  Whereas many former Securitate people do not hesitate to argue that DIA were the “terrorists” of December 1989, Corut exonerates them in his book—a consequence largely of Corut’s position as a Securitate counter-intelligence officer in DIA at the time of the Revolution.

Indeed, in 1991 Corut was an object of attacks by “Europa.”  He was accused of  having “sold out” to the opposition and of revealing state secrets (see Mihai Stegaru, August 1991; Ilie Neacsu, November 1991).  For his part, Corut would accuse “Europa” after the September 1991 events as being in league with the KGB and of responsibility for the vandalization of a statue of the Romanian poet Armand Calinescu in Bucharest that fall (Corut, 1991).  All was not exactly fully collegial among these former colleagues.

The Privatization of Security

Thus, Armagedon VII’s allegation with regard to the former Securitate not being fully under the Iliescu regime’s control has a ring of truth to it.  Privatization in Romania in 1990 and 1991 appeared to proceed at a glacial pace.  The privatization of security was another matter, however.  According to Armagedon VII:

Petre Arsene.  A former Securitate officer.  After being transferred to reserve status, he coordinated the founding in Ramnicu Valcea a suspicious agency of private detectives, which was illegally implicated in the mineriada of September 1991.  Later, it was revealed that this so called ANISE (National Agency of Investigations and Economic Security) was founded on the basis of false documents.

What is significant, as we shall see, is that such a claim, coming from a document apparently drawn-up by Romania’s center-right, the anti-Iliescu opposition of the 1990 to 1996 period, has long been either denied or ignored by members and supporters of the center-right.  Indeed, it draws our attention back to the broader allegations of the first person to raise it, former Deputy Prime Minister under Petre Roman endlessly contradictory and mysterious figure of the early Romanian transition, Gelu Voican Voiculescu.  On 30 September 1991, in a fulminating, rambling, and memorable speech before Parliament, Voiculescu invoked the name of Arsene and his private dectective agency as playing a role in what he claimed was a conspiracy of Ceausescu nostalgics to overthrow through the Romanian government against the back-drop of the miners’ march on Bucharest.

When All Was Not Exactly Quiet in the Front

The Third Mineriada of June 1990 and the effective smothering of new anti-regime challenges—such as occurred in the village of Sapinta in August-September 1990—fueled the anger of opponents of the Front, but also cowed them and led to a dejection that anything would change for the better in the country anytime soon.  According to RFE’s Dan Ionescu in May 1991, as early as September 1990 the weekly “Flacara” had warned about the birth of a “Ceausescuist counteroffensive.”  The change in tone could be seen even in the Front-aligned “Libertatea” by January 1991, when the daily marked the dead dictator’s birthday with an editorial entitled “May God Forgive Him [Ceausescu].”  In April 1991, the daily “Tineretul Liber” summed up how much things had changed from just a year before, by detailing the exploits of Ceausescu’s children:  “Zoe wants her job back.  Valentin wants land.  As for the rather unpretentious Nicu, he only wants to be free” (Ionescu, May 1991, pp. 23-25).

Meanwhile, frictions within the FSN were becoming sharper—driven by the still-uncodified separation of powers between the prime minister and the president, a difference in generations, and increasingly policy differences, especially over marketizing reforms.  Moreover, the secretive, unity-obsessed character of the former nomeklaturists began to break down as distance from the Ceausescu era grew and the opposition seemed less of an immediate threat to their positions and privilege.  The opening salvo appeared to come from the aged Alexandru Barladeanu, signatory of the famous March 1989 “Letter of the Six” condemning Ceausescu and an Iliescu ally.  As Speaker of the Parliament he repeatedly criticized and worked to delay Prime Minister Roman’s more accelerated timetable for price liberalization (Stefanescu 1995, p. 124).  Publications like “Europa” increasingly offered a platform for those uncomfortable with the growing reformist intentions of Roman.  Thus, N.S. Dumitru, associated with the hardliners in the Front, and with President Iliescu’s faction, “broke his silence” as “Europa” put it and complained that whereas he (Dumitru) had been in charge of “coordinating Front activities” from 9 April through 5 September 1990, Roman had maneuvered so that since 6 September he had been in charge of this crucial sphere of control (Europa 1991c, p. 3 “N.S. Dumitru Rupe Tacerea.”) 

Roman’s apparent “coup” or at least consolidation of authority over the FSN party apparatus at its National Conference on 16-17 March 1991—Dumitru, the FSN VP until that time was prevented from speaking—and his reshuffle of his cabinet on 29 April strengthened his hand and that of fellow reformers within the Front and began to drive some hardliners out of the Front (Stefanescu 1995, pp. 131-132; pp. 142-143).  Velicu Radina, who had held a press conference at the time of the National Conference to claim that he also had been prevented from speaking, and who accused Roman of taking the party and the country toward “neoliberalism” and a “democratic dictatorship,” formed the first splinter party from the FSN, the FSN-social democratic (FSN-sd) that included among others Nicolae Dide, famous for his alleged 22 minute cabinet on 22 December (Stefanescu 1995, p. 143).  If the founding of this new party was not enough in and of itself to demonstrate the splintering of the Front, the rejection in the Chamber of Deputies of two of Roman’s candidates—Dinu Patriciu and Radu Berceanu, of the non-Front opposition—on the same date should have been.

In the near-term, Roman’s personal consolidation of power within FSN party structures, and that of the “young Turks” allied with him, precipitated divisions among the ruling party and even their formalization in parliament.  Thus, the day after the National Conference concluded, in the Chamber of Deputies, a new FSN parliamentary caucus was formed, whose members were castigated by Roman allies as “deserters” (Stefanescu 1995, p. 132).  The Senate was the larger problem for Roman, however.  Barladeanu now used Roman’s status as both head of the party and head of the government to argue both that this would lead to an incoherence in policy formulation because of their different views and goals—i.e. those of Barladeanu’s faction—and because it centralized too much power in the hands of one individual.  As is so often the case, Barladeanu’s concern was not without merit, but it was also a disingenous attempt to weaken his growing political adversary.  Barladeanu’s faction would eventually officially delimit themselves from Roman’s allies and policies by forming their own “FSN 20 May” parliamentary caucus at 2 April.  (It is ironic in retrospect, that I interviewed one of its members, Sorin Botnaru, in the headquarters of the opposition’s Group for Social Dialogue, who had put me in touch with him, in May 1991—in retrospect, it was a fitting metaphor for the contradictions and warped convergence of opposing interests (i.e. by definition the fracturing of the Front must be good in and of itself) that characterized this period even if by accident.)

The Regrouping and Recovery of the Ceausists   

While divisions within the Front were intensifying and small splinter groups were breaking away to form their own parties, the partisans of “radical continuity”—the Ceausists—were busy regaining ground and recouping their losses.  The Socialist Labor Party (PSM) founded on 16 November 1990 was the clearest expression of their return from the political wasteland to where they had been banished in the months immediately after Ceausescu’s overthrow.  The party’s formation was for all intents and purposes the result of a hostile takeover of the already existing Democratic Labor Party (PDM), as between 100 to 120 former Communists invited as “guests” to the PDM’s national conference succeeded in hijacking the gathering and driving out the remnants of the PDM’s leadership (Shafir 12/21/90, p. 24). 

The PSM leadership was headed by Ilie Verdet, Ceausescu’s prime minister between 1979 and 1982, elected Chairman of the Communist Party’s Auditing Commission at the 14th party Congress that took place the month before the December uprising, and the key member of the so-called 22 minute cabinet that followed Ceausescu’s ouster prior to the announcement of the FSN’s formation.  It also included Traian Dudas, a former Romanian ambassador to the Soviet Union, Ion Stanescu, head of the Interior Ministry in the early 1970s, and Gheorghe Pele, who had been in charge of Romania’s Interpol division before 1989. 

“Dimineata,” the FSN’s most direct mouthpiece, was unambiguous in its condemnation of the new party, terming its members “inveterate Russophiles” and “pro-Soviet fossils (Shafir 12/21/90, p. 24).”  It is telling that anti-Front parties and the anti-Front press, nevertheless, accused the PSM of being “the puppet of the Front,” “a scarecrow,” and a “diversion…to distract public attention from current problems (Shafir 12/21/90, p. 25).”  This was in fact typical of the misguided conclusions of their understandable, but ultimately counterproductive paranoia of the Front.  Rather than viewing it as a formation that could potentially siphon off voters and supporters of the Front—as not merely a stalking horse and ally of the Front, but also as its potential ideological competitor—and as an indication of the fact that there were worse forces than the Front to worry about, they saw the SLP as a creation of the Front, designed to “make the Front look more democratic.”

From the beginning, the PSM was closely identified with the particularly misleadingly titled publication “Europa”—reminiscent in this sense of Vladimir Zhirnovsky’s “Liberal Democratic Party” in Russia.  (Ironically, the title “Europe” led some Western libraries to order it based on the assumption that given its title it must be a democratically oriented, Western-leaning journal, a situation which also happened with the anomalously-named “Democratia (Democracy)!”)  When the PSM was founded in November 1990, articles began showing up in “Europa” (nr. 13) covering its ideology and activities.  Despite his sometimes laissez faire attitude toward tolerating former Securitate personnel at his publications, Ion Cristoiu, then Senior Editor at “Expres Magazin,” brutally denounced “Europa” referring to the “stench that would emanate” from his “mailbox” every time it arrived.  The oppositionist and esteemed literary critic, Nicolae Manolescu, wrote of “Europa” in 1991:

It is not accidental that ‘Europa’ generously hosts the communiques of the PSM leadership and of the local branches of the party, the inheritor to the PCR (Romanian Communist Party), as for example that in Galati, where PSM is considered ‘a legitimate successor’ of the former PCR and calls for the return of its dues and patrimony, confiscated following a decree in 1990 (Manolescu, “Ideologie extremista si joc politic (15 August 1991),” in “Dreptul la Normalitate,” 1991, p. 263.)

A Convergence of Worrisome Trends

In the late spring and summer of 1991, there were a number of events that crystallized Romania’s growing tide of anti-semitism, the dimensions of its economic problems, and the recovery of the Ceausists.  For the first three quarters of 1991, official statistics would demonstrate that the consumer price index stood at 319.4%, with the nominal wage index at 259.2%–a 19% drop in real wages; only 30 to 40 percent of the country’s tractors and combines were in service and 1 million hectares were unsown because of fuel and driver shortages; and in September, industrial production was down 41.3% from the same month in 1989 (RFE, “Weekly Record of Events,” 11/1/1991, p. 31).  The situation was perhaps captured best by a front page photo in the Front daily “Adevarul” in August, with multiple female saleswomen in a meat shop standing behind empty cases:  “How can I help you today?” 

It was probably not without reason that articles started to appear with titles like “Peter [i.e. Petre Roman] and the Wolf” at this time (see for example, Serbanescu, “Petrica si Lupul,” “Expres,” 9-15 July 1991, p. 10).  Throughout the spring and summer there were waves of work stoppages and demonstrations in Bucharest and elsewhere, including strikes by railway workers, health workers, pharmacists, teachers, and factory workers involved in the armaments, lumber, and heavy engineering industries.  Interestingly, on 18 June 1990, just a little over a year after they had terrorized students and intellectuals in the capital, miners under the direction of the Federation of Mining Unions took part in antigovernment demonstrations in Bucharest (RFE, “Weekly Record of Events, 6/28/91, p. 55).  The miners demanded the resignation of the government, the dismissal of the current management of the television station, better working conditions, and higher wages.  Thus, the miners’ first antigovernment visit to the capital was not with the Fourth Mineriada in September 1991, as has frequently presented, but three months earlier and without violence.

The intersection of labor unrest and growing anti-Semitism could be seen too.  On a 16 May visit by Prime Minister Petre Roman to the giant Faur plant in Bucharest, workers chanted not only “Liars” and “You robbed us,” but assaulted Roman with anti-semitic ephithets such as “Kike” (Stefanescu 1995, p. 144; Shafir 6/28/91, p. 25).  Meanwhile, protests from civil society groups, the Writers’ Union, the Romanian Journalists’ Association, the opposition press and political parties, and even the government’s Culturual Ministry under the directorship of Andrei Plesu against the burgeoning anti-semitism, represented most prominently by the publications “Europa” and “Romania Mare,” forced the government to confront the issue (Shafir, 8/23/91, pp. 26-27).  A government spokesman threatened Ilie Neacsu, Angela Bacescu, and Nicolae Radu at “Europa” with possible prosecution for their hate-filled, inciting articles, while Roman and Iliescu were forced to publicly acknowledge the problem and to issue criticism of those behind it–although Roman tended to play down the seriousness of the problem when he was abroad, while Iliescu’s condemnation was mealymouthed and contradictory (Shafir, 8/23/91, pp. 27-29). 

That the “radical continuists” were becoming more brazen was on display on 10 July when supporters of the Ceausist bard, Corneliu Vadim Tudor, stormed the courthouse in Ploiesti in the libel trial of Gheorghe Robu against Tudor.  Robu, who was Prosecutor General until he turned in his resignation on 10 November 1990, citing attacks against him in the press with the aim of influencing the trials of the former CPEx (Romanian equivalent of the politburo).  Tudor had incited his followers to show up to “protect” him in an article in “Romania Mare” entitled “Red Alert:  Our Magazine is in Danger” (Stefanescu 1995, p. 152).  Robu was forced to flee the courthouse under guard and by police car. 

Ten days later the Greater Romania Party (PRM) was founded with Tudor as president and a veritable Who’s Who of the Ceausist “cultural” establishment among its leadership.  The party’s platform suggested that Romania was under threat from internal “occult forces…supported from abroad” with the aim of bringing about “Romania’s dismemberment (Shafir 11/15/91, p. 27).”  Interesting for our discussion of the Fourth Mineriada was the appointment of Mircea Hamza as press spokesman for the party (Stefanescu 1995, p. 155).  Indicative of the confused character of the times, Hamza was still a reserve Army officer who also served as a correspondent for Romanian Television.

PART III:  The August 1991 Soviet Coup and Its Reverbrations in Romania 

The Growing Optimism of Romania’s Pessimists

In stifling August heat and with multiple technical difficulties, the Socialist Labor Party (PSM) held its first National Congress on 10-11 August 1991 in Bucharest.  It was more than a little ironic, since the PSM technically-speaking was not officially registered and thus did not legally exist.  The attendees interviewed by journalists were sharply anti-Roman and anti-Adrian Severin, complaining vehemently about the third round of price hikes and against the land redistribution law in the countryside (Dragotescu, “Partidul Socialist al Muncii Trece Rubiconul, “Adevarul,” 8/13/91, p. 1 and Va).  Moreover, they spoke in clearly anti-semitic euphemisms, claiming that Roman “does not have the [‘proper’] preparation for the Romanian economy (Dragotescu).”  On the other hand, they were highly supportive of conservative Senate Speaker Birladeanu.  On Iliescu, they were more mixed; some spoke warmly, others at best luke-warm—better than Roman, but not as appealing as Birladeanu.  Reporters attending the Congress noted that at the local level de facto cooperation between FSN and PSM representatives was taking place (Dragotescu).

Although there did not appear to be official FSN representation at the Congress, there were representatives from the PRM, Radina from the FSNsd, and Victor Surdu from the recently formed Democratic Agrarian Party (PDAR) (AM Press in TL, 8/13/91, “Afinati la Congresul PSM,” p. 3).  “Tineretul Liber” reported on 7 August 1991 that PSM was “the Generals’ umbrella,” counting 42 reserve generals (presumably from the former Securitate as well as military) (“PSM—Umbrella Generalilor,” 7 August 1991, TL, p. 3).  Among those were Ceausist Interior Ministers of the 1970s, Ion Stanescu and Cornel Onescu (“Afinati la Congresul PSM,” TL, p. 3).  Former high-ranking ethnic Hungarian PCR member summed up the Congress’ nostalgia—and perhaps regret—by arguing that the Securitate would have overthrown Ceausescu in 1990 had it not been for the popular movements.  One of the guests at the PSM Congress was reserve Col. Cazacov, formerly an officer in the Securitate’s First Directorate, that which most Romanians associate with the term “political police.”  Cazacov was to admit this in an apparently hastily arranged interview on Romanian Television to reject Voiculescu’s declaration in parliament that Cazacov was a key player in the alleged coup that lurked behind the Fourth Mineriada (Sandu and Antonescu, “In Bucuresti sint patru Cazacovi!” “Tineretul Liber” 10/2/91, pp. 1-3).  We shall thus return to the name of Cazacov later in this piece. 

Significantly, even prior to the August 1991 Moscow coup, there is some evidence that Voican Voiculescu believed his safety was—or was going to be—in jeopardy, thus giving at least some possibility to the credibility to his later accusations.  AM Press reported in the 18 August 1991 issue of “Tineretul Liber” that according to an unnamed Interior Ministry source, Voican Voiculescu was now being guarded by “special troops” at his home and that two SRI officers would accompany him even when he would go for a walk with his 9 month old daughter (AM Press, 1991).  These protective steps and Voican Voiculescu’s alleged refusal of an ambassadorship post in Senegal were linked to “threats from the former Securitate tied to Voiculescu’s role in the execution of the Ceausescus (AM Press, 1991).”

Evidence of PSM Machinations during the August 1991 Moscow Coup

According to Voiculescu in his 30 September address, Romania’s alleged “coup plotters” planned to complement the conservative putsch in Moscow with a mass demonstration in Bucharest by workers the major Faur and Vulcan industrial complexes on 20 August, and “simultaneous unrest in Tirgoviste, Pitesti, Campina, Brasov, Calarasi, Oltenita, Galati.”  However, according to Voiculescu, “[n]othing came of this, except for Galati, where an attempt was made to take over the prefect’s office.”  What evidence is there that there were efforts to seize power in Galati or elsewhere during the days of the Moscow coup?

It does appear that a demonstration of several thousand factory workers took place in front of the prefecture in Galati in August, but it appears they took place on 23 August, the date of the old communist holiday, and that there was no real attempt at taking over the prefecture as suggested by Voiculescu.  Interestingly, though, there appear to have been efforts by PSM officials to instigate trouble during this period that were not mentioned by Voiculescu in his speech—specifically in Alba Iulia and Constanta.  Based on what was reported as having taken place in Alba Iulia, it is possible that Voiculescu conflated the events of Galati with those in Alba Iulia during this time and/or that he was sloppy in explaining the details of his allegations before parliament.

In the 10-16 September 1991 issue of the weekly “Expres,” D. Mihaescu recounted the events that had transpired in Constanta during the days of the Moscow coup (Mihaescu, 1991).  According to Mihaescu, two senior PSM officials, Vasile Vilcu—who had served in Prime Minister Ilie Verdet’s cabinet during the Ceausescu era—and Traian Dudas, showed up in Constanta on the morning of 19 August and checked into Room 102 of the old Party hotel.  They met with Gheorghe Trandafir, PSM President for Constanta and once a mayor of Constanta during the communist era, and together they went to the prefecture where among other things they demanded the return of the communist party’s local patrimony.  They also militated for the recreation and relegalization of “party cells” in the factories and visited the large agricultural collectives in nearby Agigea and Techinghiol.

On 13 September—thus, also long after the event that was being discussed—Florin Mircea Corcoz reported in the opposition daily “Romania Libera” that “during the Moscow coup, there had been an attempt to replace the prefect” in the Transylvanian town of Alba Iulia (Corcoz, 1991).  Led by Alba Iulia PSM leader, Silviu Tecsa, according to Corcoz, local PSM officials held a conspiratorial meeting on 22 August to plan actions for the following day.  Their desire was not only to replace the prefect, but to occupy the union headquarters for the Baia de Aries Mine and replace the present union leader with a former union leader.  As one Gheorghe Cimpeanu was quoted as having said at the 22 August meeting:  “Those who died (in 1989) represent the shame of the nation.  They destroyed everything we had constructed over 40 years.”  For reasons that Corcoz does not specify, the plotters in Alba Iulia were unable to fulfill their plan.

The Alleged Moscow Connection:  In Search of “Cazacov”

According to Voiculescu in his 30 September 1991 parliamentary address, a certain former Securitate officer now in reserve, named Cazacov, served as the link for alleged funding from the Soviet Union used to finance the actions of those plotting the overthrow of the Romanian regime:

“As early as July 1991, information emerged that clearly proved the existence of an organized subversion aimed at removing the current democratic regime…It seems that this clandestine organization was set up in March 1990.  Initially its activity was coupled with that of the Socialist Party of Justice with “Glasul” as its [press] organ.  The initial group was headed by reserve Colonel Cazacov from the Securitate’s First Directorate, together with other reserve officers….Colonel Cazacov then opened a Soviet-Romanian import-export company, the first and only one of the its kind, and the money came exclusively from Moscow…(Bucharest Programul Unu Radio Network, 1991)”

In the 2 October 1991 edition of “Tineretul Liber,” Mihail Dumitru Sandu and Florin Antonescu noted that even though “there are four Cazacovs” in Bucharest alone, and Voican Voiculescu did not mention Cazacov’s first name, Gheorghe Cazacov showed up in “record time” on national television following Voiculescu’s allegations (Sandu and Antonescu, 1991).  Dorin Salajan was later to comment sarcastically on Cazacov’s sudden television appearance:  “Just how fast is our free television is plain for all to see (Salajan, 1992).”  In his television appearance, Cazacov admitted that he had been in the Provisional Council of National Unity (CPUN) that ruled the country briefly between March and May 1990, that in that capacity he went to Moscow, that he was indeed head of the Independent Socialist Party of Justice [the designation “Independent” had been added at a later date], that he had attended the Socialist Labor Party (PSM)’s party conference in August but “only out of curiosity,” and that if people wanted to find out if he really operated a Romanian-Soviet firm they could check with the National Privatization Agency (Sandu and Antonescu, 1991).  Predictably, however, he vehemently denied Voiculescu’s allegations and threatened that he would take legal action against him if possible.

The identity of the reporter who interviewed the suddenly famous Cazacov may explain to some extent the unexpectedly rapid recording and broadcast of the interview.  The reporter was Mircea Hamza, who at the time was one of two military officers employed as reporters at Romanian Television and who had recently been appointed spokesman for Corneliu Vadim Tudor’s Greater Romania Party (PRM).  The following year Hamza would step down from his position at Romanian Television in part at least on the basis of the incompatibility of his other roles with his duties as a reporter.  In 1993, he would become one of a long list of one-time important PRM celebrities who would leave the party and then be vilified by Tudor as an arch-traitor.  Given Voiculescu’s claim of  possible PRM involvement, or at least tacit support, for the miners’ rampage, the fact that it was Hamza who interviewed Cazacov and did so in “record time” may have some significance.

Despite Cazacov’s denial of any involvement in the September events, it is significant that what he admitted largely tracks with Voiculescu’s claims.  (His response concerning the existence of a Romanian-Soviet firm under his direction seemed a de facto allusion that this was indeed true, but that he realized the unpopularity of such a notion and therefore was reluctant to own up to it in public.)  One can potentially view the rapidity with which the interview was broadcast and Cazacov’s vehement denial of involvement in the events as an anticipated reaction in the wake of the failure of the miners to overthrow Iliescu in order to cover up the tracks of his and others’ activities and/or to protect himself from potential prosecution.  His lightning appearance seems largely an effort at “spin control.”

The story might end there if it were not for the testimony of an unnamed former Army officer from Constanta recounted in January 1992 by the journalist Dorin Salajan of the weekly “Flacara.”

Evidence of PSM Machinations during the Fourth Mineriada

Although Voiculescu did not mention them and the Romanian press failed to draw the incidents together and analyze what they meant in the broader context of the mineriade, there appear to have been other instances of PSM manipulation during the September 1991 events.  For example, Constantin Stan reported in the 8-14 October issue of the weekly “Expres” that residents in Bucharest’s Fourth Sector reported finding in their mailboxes between 24 and 27 September—therefore, during the days of the mineriade—PSM fliers calling for the overthrow of the government (Stan, 1991).  

There is also some evidence of PSM skullduggery outside of Bucharest.  In the 2 October edition of “Adevarul”—ironically, in the same issue in which Constantin Pavel wrote a highly sarcastic account of Voiculescu’s accusations—Constantin Coroiu of “Adevarul” reported on what had occurred in Iasi during the week of the mineriade.  According to Coroiu, Catalin Savin, a journalist for the Iasi publication “24 Ore [24 Hours]” wrote in the 24 September issue that the prefect and the trade unions were to meet the next day (Coroiu, 1991).  Coroiu insinuates, however, that no such meeting was scheduled and that Savin was attempting to foment protests and place the prefect in a difficult and unexpected situation.  Then, on the night of 29/30 September—therefore after events had begun to calm down in Bucharest and the miners had returned home—Savin was detained after distributing fliers calling for the overthrow of the country’s leadership and for a nationwide strike.

Partial list of some sources used in the piece:

AM Press, 1991, “Garda domnului Senator Voican Voiculescu, [The Guard of Senator Voican Voiculescu]” in “Tineretul Liber,” 18 August, p. 1.

Corcoz, F. M., 1991, “La Alba Iulia, Mafia Rosie Doreste Puterea [In Alba Iulia, the Red Mafia Wants Power],” in “Romania Libera,” 13 September, p. 3.

Coroiu, C., 1991, “Instigatorii din Umbra [Instigators in the Shadows],” in “Adevarul,” 2 October, p. 3.

Mihaescu, D., 1991, “PSM-ul face valuri la Constanta [The PSM is making waves in Constanta],” in “Expres,” vol. 2, no. 36 (10-16 September), p. 16.

Salajan, D., 1992, “Senatorul Voican, ‘Legiunea Dreptatii’ si Consulatul Sovietic [Senator Voican, the ‘Legion of Justice’ and the Soviet Consulate],” in “Flacara,” 8 January, pp. 6-7.

Sandu, M.D., and F. Antonescu, 1991, “In Bucuresti sint patru Cazacovi [In Bucharest there are four Cazacovs],” in “Tineretul Liber,” 2 October, p. 1; 3.

Stan, C., 1991, “PSM-ul imprastie manifeste,” in “Expres,” vo. 2, no. 40 (8-14 October), p. 16.

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