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.

Ion Cristoiu, “Iulian Vlad stirneste invidii,” Expres Magazin, nr. 27 (4) 30 ianuarie-5 februarie 1991


(xeroxat ori la B.A.R. Bucuresti ori la U.B.B. Cluj, 1994; o postare strict personala, ca intotdeauna, va multumesc!)

Oare cine in occidentul a scris despre faptul ca Ion Cristoiu era un tip alunecos despre securitatea si decembrie 1989?  Vladimir Tismaneanu?  Tom Gallagher?  Peter Gross?

Un istoric american specializat pe Revoluţie a spus că articolele apărute în „Zig-Zag” pe subiectul decembrie ’89 subliniau nişte teme apropiate de interesele fostei Securităţi.

–Bate câmpii! Poziţia fostei Securităţi nu era în sensul că eu scriam editoriale. Noi eram cu Piaţa Universităţii, cu Opoziţia, dar în chestiunea evenimentelor din decembrie ’89 am dat foarte multe documente care spuneau adevărul. Sigur că ele erau anti-Iliescu.–1_56002b0cf5eaafab2cd8ce26/index.html

My thanks to Michael Shafir for editing and agreeing to host this article back in April 2002!…and excerpt about Ion Cristoiu…!

In the early 1990s, perhaps no mainstream publications served more as a haven for former Securitate officers and informers than the weeklies edited by Ion Cristoiu, in particular “Zig-Zag” and “Expres Magazin.” The Timisoara revolutionary Marius Mioc has gone so far as to call Cristoiu “the spearhead of the campaign to falsify the history of the revolution” (Mioc, 2000a). Cristoiu’s two most famous alumni are undoubtedly 1) Pavel Corut, a former Securitate officer who wrote under this name and the pseudonym “Paul Cernescu” for “Expres Magazin” during 1991 and 1992; and 2) Angela Bacescu, who since writing for “Zig-Zag” during the spring and summer of 1990 has been a mainstay for the notorious “Europa,” a veritable mouthpiece of the former Securitate (see Hall, 1997; for background on Corut, see Shafir 1993). Both strove during their tenure at Cristoiu’s publications to minimize and negate the Securitate’s role in the deaths of over 1,100 people in December 1989, particularly the Securitate’s responsibility for the so-called post-22 December “terrorism” that claimed almost 90 percent of those who died during the events.

Nevertheless, in the early 1990s, Cristoiu’s “Zig-Zag” and “Expres Magazin” were widely regarded as pillars of opposition to the rump Communist Party-state bureaucracy that made up the National Salvation Front (FSN) regime of President Ion Iliescu — including a large proportion of the former Securitate. To the extent that Cristoiu and his publications became the object of suspicion and cynicism within the opposition, it was because of an alleged slipperiness and inconsistency in his treatment of Iliescu — he was accused of cozying up to the regime when it appeared to benefit his interests (based on my own experience in discussions with various journalists and intellectuals in Romania between 1991 and 1994).

Probably no publication played a larger role in 1990 in rewriting the history of December 1989 than “Zig-Zag,” edited at the time by Ion Cristoiu. Because those analysts who have commented on the role of “Zig-Zag” in 1990 have focused almost exclusively on the change in coverage — a turn toward more favorable coverage of the FSN and President Iliescu after former Ceausescu court poet Adrian Paunescu took over editorship of the weekly from Cristoiu for a time during late 1990 and early 1991 — it is important to note that much of the most damaging revisionism began long BEFORE Paunescu became senior editor. As Marius Mioc notes, in an interview with Lucia Epure of the Timisoara daily “Renasterea Banateana” in September 1990, the notorious Ceausescu court poet Corneliu Vadim Tudor was asked which paper he enjoyed reading most (Mioc, 2000a). His response: “‘Zig-Zag.’ I like this boy, Ion Cristoiu.” The reason for Tudor’s appreciation of Cristoiu’s journal is “easy to understand,” according to Mioc, since that weekly “was the first [publication] that, after December 1989 (and especially after the May 1990 elections), began the campaign to rehabilitate the pro-Ceausescu theory of the revolution” (Mioc, 2000a). Indeed, in June 1990 when “Romania Mare” — a publication that at the time was supportive of the Iliescu regime — first began to appear, Tudor would list his favorite publications. At the top of the list with five out of five stars was “Zig-Zag,” a publication that under Cristoiu had developed a reputation as a critic of Ion Iliescu and the FSN!

It is hard to state with certainty what exactly Cristoiu’s role was in having his publications serve as a conduit for revisionist Securitate disinformation. This much is clear, however: Cristoiu was not unwitting for long about the backgrounds of the former Securitate personnel who came to work for him. Asked point blank about the Bacescu case in a book-length interview in 1993, Cristoiu was unrepentant. He claimed that he realized from the beginning that Bacescu was writing to defend the interests of the former Securitate but, since “there was something true in what the Securitate was saying,” he allowed her to publish (Iftime, 1993, p. 126). Cristoiu stated that he had “no regrets” and denied that it was accurate to assert that “Zig-Zag” had been “manipulated,” even though he admitted that Bacescu had shown up “without need of money…and she brought a lot of documents with her.” Cristoiu justified Bacescu’s sympathetic presentation of the Securitate in the December events as follows:

“Until April, 1990, the Securitate had been presented as a force of evil…. [Thus] [i]t was an absolutely new theme [to write that the Securitate had been innocent of the charges against them]. A shocking point of view in a period when the government was still glorifying the Revolution and always talking about martyrs…” (Iftime, 1993, p. 126).

Only in this way, Cristoiu concludes, was it possible to learn that “not a single terrorist had existed” in Sibiu — the city in which Nicolae Ceausescu’s son, Nicu Ceausescu, the so-called “Little Prince,” was party first secretary — a story which he maintains “was later confirmed” (Iftime, 1993, p. 127).

Despite Bacescu’s unambiguous ties to the former Securitate since she transferred to “Romania Mare” and then permanently to “Europa” in late 1990, to my knowledge — short of Marius Mioc — no Romanian writer has gone back to compare what Bacescu wrote after leaving “Zig-Zag” with what she wrote while at “Zig-Zag” or to scrutinize the validity of the allegations she made about the December 1989 events in the pages of that weekly. Significantly, for example, the article written by Bacescu to which Cristoiu alludes as exonerating the Securitate in the Sibiu events was reprinted VERBATIM in Tudor’s “Romania Mare” after she transferred to that publication in the second half of 1990 (Bacescu, 1990 a and b). Clearly, the publication of an article exonerating the Securitate by someone who did little to hide her connections to the former secret police — first in a publication bitterly critical of the Iliescu regime and then in a publication supportive of the very same regime — should have raised alarm bells and led to scrutiny of her claims. In the confused, stultifying, and slightly surreal context of post-Ceausescu Romania, however, it did not do so.

SOURCES Bacescu, A., 1990a “Adevarul despre Sibiu,” [The Truth On Sibiu] in “Zig-Zag,” (Bucharest) 19-26 June.

Bacescu, A., 1990b “Noi lumini asupra evenimentelor din decembrie 1989,” [New Light On The December 1989 Events] in “Romania Mare,” (Bucharest) 21 August.

“Curierul national,” (Bucharest) 2001, Internet edition,

Gheorghe, V., 1990, “Inca o fateta a diversiunii,” in “Armata poporului,” (Bucharest), 3 May.

Hall, R. A., 1997, “The Dynamics of Media Independence in Post-Ceausescu Romania,” in O’Neil, P.H. (ed.), Post-Communism and the Media in Eastern Europe, (Portland, OR: Frank Cass,), pp. 102-123.

Hall, R. A., 1999, “The Uses of Absurdity: The Staged War Theory and the Romanian Revolution of December 1989,” in “East European Politics and Societies,” Vol. 13, no.3, pp. 501-542.

Iftime, C., 1993, Cu Ion Cristoiu prin infernul contemporan [With Ion Cristoiu Through The Contemporary Inferno], (Bucharest: Editura Contraria).

“Catavencu,” (Bucharest), 1999 (Internet edition),

Mioc, M., 2000a “Ion Cristoiu, virful de lance al campaniei de falsificare a istoriei revolutiei,”

Mioc, M., 2000b “‘Misterul’celor 40 de cadavre,”

Olbojan Ionescu, G., 1990 “Mortii din TIR-ul Frigorific — ofiteri DIA?” [Were The Corpses In The Refrigerated Truck DIA Officers?] in “Zig-Zag,”, no. 23, 23-29 April.

Olbojan Ionescu G., 1994, Fantomele lui Pacepa [Pacepa’s Phantoms], (Bucharest: Editura Corida).

Sandulescu, Serban, 1996, Decembrie ’89: Lovitura de Stat a Confiscat Revolutia Romana [December ’89: The Coup d’�tat Abducted the Romanian Revolution], (Bucharest: Editura Omega Press Investment).

Shafir, M., 1993, “Best Selling Spy Novels Seek To Rehabilitate Romanian ‘Securitate,'” in “Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Research Report,” Vol. 2, no. 45, pp. 14-18.

Siani-Davies, P., 2001, “The Revolution after the Revolution,” in Phinnemore, D. Light, D. (eds.), Post-Communist Romania: Coming to Terms with Transition (London: Palgrave), pp. 1-34.

Stoian, I., 1993, Decembrie ’89: Arta Diversiunii, [ December ’89: The Art Of Diversion], (Bucharest: Editura Colaj).

Teodorescu, F., 1992, Un Risc Asumat: Timisoara, decembrie 1989, [An Assumed Risk: Timisoara, December 1989] (Bucharest: Editura Viitorul Romanesc).

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