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.

Iulian Vlad, Vladimir Tismaneanu, and the PCACDR’s Final Report

(purely personal views as always, based on over two decades of prior research and publications)

Professor Vladimir Tismaneanu is “shocked, shocked to find”–not to mention outraged–that a decade after the official condemnation of the communist regime as “illegitimate and criminal,” the last head of the communist era secret police (the Securitate), Iulian Vlad, has developed an admiring cult around him.  He goes on to note Iulian Vlad’s role in the Brasov repression of November 1987 and in the killing of the dissident Gheorghe Ursu.  See

Timisoara 1989 protester and researcher Marius Mioc commented on the article that “The main problem isn’t the report condemning communism from 2006, to which Mr. Tismaneanu always refers, but because of the fact that the claims that are made about the role of the Securitate in 1989 are false.  It isn’t because that is what is written in the Tismaneanu report, because the report doesn’t contain much evidence about December 1989 (a period which garners only scant analysis in the report), but because that is what results from a ton of documents and witness declarations (including those of Securitate members) from the trials of the revolution.”

Dar problema principală nu e raportul de condamnare al comunismului din 2006, la care mereu face referire domnul Tismăneanu, ci faptul că afirmațiile care se fac despre rolul securității din 1989 sînt mincinoase. Nu fiindcă așa scrie în raportul Tismăneanu, căci raportul ăla nu conține prea multe dovezi despre decembrie 1989 (perioadă doar puțin analizată în raport), ci fiindcă așa rezultă dintr-o mulțime de documente și declarații de martor (inclusiv a unor securiști) din procesele revoluției…

Indeed, let’s examine exactly what the ceaselessly invoked (by Tismaneanu) Tismaneanu Report (PCACDR’s Final Report) says about Securitate General Iulian Vlad.  I find two short mentions of Iulian Vlad in a 663 page document (

Şefii Securităţii din perioada ultimă a lui Ceauşescu şi a regimului (Iulian Vlad şi Tudor Postelnicu) au fost judecaţi pentru rolul lor în represiunea din decembrie 1989, nu pentru vina a de a fi condus o instituţie fundamental ostilă drepturilor omului şi cetăţeanului. (p. 11)

Partidul fiind paralizat, nu exista alt sprijin pentru secretarul general în afara Securităţii, care sub comanda generalului Iulian Vlad – un ofiţer MAI de carieră, aparent fără convingeri ideologice – ducea la îndeplinire ordinele draconice ale lui Ceauşescu. (p. 618)


(“As the party became paralyzed, there was no support for the general secretary other than his seemingly faithful Securitate.  Headed by General Iulian Vlad, a professional policeman, with no ideological convictions, this institution carried out Ceausescu’s draconian orders,” in Dawisha and Parrott (1997), page 414)

Both are eminently familiar.  They are Tismaneanu’s own words, from publications in the 1990s, that are uncredited in the footnotes.  When confronted by this in the past, Tismaneanu is typically defensive, claiming that the works are cited in the bibliography and since they are his own words, he can’t be accused of plagiarism (it is in fact either plagiarism or auto-plagiarism by any academic definition).  The question is why these two, among other citations, are uncredited in the text?  The answer is pretty clear:  this is a collective work (as Tismaneanu ceaselessly reminds us, assumed by all members who participated in its preparation), but because Tismaneanu was the head of the commission he was “more equal than others” and in the typical patron-client style of Romania he was given special deference as its guiding light.

As to the content of these two mentions, it is important to point out that Iulian Vlad’s invocation in the first mention is mainly in the context of criticizing the Iliescu regime of having limited post-communist justice to a very small period of the communist era:  Vlad is thus something of a prop for inveighing against the Iliescu regime, while his actual responsibility or guilt is secondary.  The second mention has a rather incredible claim:  that Vlad was a career member in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, apparently without ideological convictions.  So, here, Tismaneanu is invoking the condemnation of communism, and yet his own words about Vlad suggest he wasn’t a communist.  In fact, Vlad was a member of the Interior Ministry (Securitate) from the Stalinist early 1950s onward.  And from what has emerged since 1989, it is pretty clear was devoted to Nicolae Ceausescu’s national communism (including efforts, it appears, to make sure those in key positions throughout the Securitate and communist administration were ethnic Romanian).  Even from the mid-1990s, thus a decade before the Raport Final, Vlad was showing up with Ceausescu court poet Corneliu Vadim Tudor in public settings and defending the latter.  Although the cause of the unchanged nature of Tismaneanu’s characterization–” a career Ministry of Internal Affairs officer, apparently without ideological convictions”–probably owes more to his typical combination of arrogance and superficiality, it is still extraordinary that this could have made it into the Final Report unedited and unquestioned.


But aside from the two direct mentions of Iulian Vlad in the Report itself, why should Tismaneanu be so surprised about Vlad’s current reception?  After all, one can argue that Tismaneanu has himself indirectly contributed to revisionist views of Iulian Vlad and his role in December 1989 through his superficial reception, scrutiny, and promotion of the claims of others.  Let’s looks at 3 cases briefly.

  1. Tismaneanu has extolled the writings on December 1989 of Grigore Cartianu:

“There are remarkable works on the subject of the life and death of Ceausescu (Mary Ellen Fischer, Pavel Campeanu, Edward Behr, Catherine Durandin, including also the recent journalistic reconstitution of Grigore Cartianu, to name a few of the contributions).

“Este un lucru demonstrat cu prisosinta si de onesta ancheta jurnalistica a lui Grigore Cartianu (publicata sub titlul de carte: “Sfârşitul Ceauşeştilor”). “

Cartianu has in fact been termed the “vuvuzela” of the “patriotic Securitate”

and presents an account accusing the KGB for the bloodshed in December 1989, while presenting Iulian Vlad primarily as a scapegoat and victim of those events

2) Tismaneanu is a great promoter of Doru Teodor Maries, head of the 21 December 1989 Association:
Maries, like Cartianu, presents Iulian Vlad as a scapegoat and victim of December 1989

Doru (Teodor) Maries cu Angela Bacescu, revista Europa (Est-Vest) nr. 31 , iunie 1991, p. 3.

Doru Maries:  “Eu sustin ca martor ocular ca [securistii] nu au tras.  Ba, mai mult, si-au lasat armele si munitia.  Acum inteleg de ce.  Probabil ca aveau informatii ca gogorita cu “teroristii” o sa fie pusa in spinarea lor.  Au fost bine informati.  Nu s-au implicat in conflict, nu au tras.  Altfel ar fi fost razboi civil, se omora frate cu frate.”

[Doru Maries:  I maintain as an eyewitness that the Securitate did not fire.  What is more, they left their weapons and munition.  Now I understand why.  Probably because they had information that this huge lie with the “terrorists” was going to be blamed on them.  They were well-informed.  They didn’t get invovled in the conflict, they didn’t shoot.  Otherwise there would have been a civil war, with brother killing brother.]

Doru (Teodor) Maries cu Angela Bacescu, revista Europa (Est-Vest) nr. 31 , iunie 1991, p. 3.


 3) Finally, the Tismaneanu Report presents the claims of Military Prosecutor General Dan Voinea according to which Television, rather than Iulian Vlad and the Securitate, were responsible for the bloodshed after 22 December 1989.
see the following series for details on this:

Prin televiziune s-au făcut majoritatea diversiunilor, cea mai eficientă fiind reprezentată de „pericolul de moarte” omniprezent întruchipat de „teroriştii fideli dictatorului Ceauşescu”; acesta a fost arestat în 22 decembrie, într-o unitate militară din Târgovişte. Pericolul părea total credibil întrucât în perioada 22-27 decembrie au fost înregistraţi 942 de morţi şi mii de răniţi. Majoritatea au fost ucişi şi răniţi pe străzile din centrul capitalei şi al altor oraşe martirizate ca urmare a acestei diversiuni. Ulterior nu a fost acuzat şi judecat nici un terorist….Potrivit declaraţiilor generalului-magistrat Dan Voinea…„În decembrie 1989 scopul era deturnarea caracterului anticomunist al revoluţiei şi preluarea puterii prin teroarea instalată”17.  [pp. 623-624]

The 2006 Final Report of the Presidential Commission for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania (also known as the Tismaneanu Report, after its Chairman, Professor Vladimir Tismaneanu) stridently alleges that Romanian Television and those who appeared on it beginning the afternoon of 22 December 1989 were intentionally responsible for creating the “majority of the diversions” through which 942 people died in the days which followed (versus 162 before 22 December under orders from Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu) by claiming that “terrorists loyal to the Ceausescu dictatorship” posed a lethal threat. The authors of the Report then add, as if to confirm their contention that the “terrorists” were an invention of those who took power in December 1989:  “Later not a single terrorist was charged or tried.”  To bolster their argument, they invoke the findings of Military Prosecutor General Dan Voinea [who led the investigation of the December 1989 events for much of the post-communist era], who states “In December 1989, the goal was to divert the anticommunist character of the revolution and to seize power through the terror they had installed.”

The Tismaneanu Report misunderstands and misrepresents both the “terrorists” and the role of Romanian Television.  In fact, not only does it get the “terrorists” wrong overall, it doesn’t even manage to get right what happened in and around the Television building itself.  Here’s why:

In episode one, Nicolae Stefan Soucoup related the capture and interrogation of terrorist suspect Silviu Dutu, a sergeant major from UM 0530 Rosu, a Securitate special unit (in this respect, readers may recall the references in December 1989 and in the initial months thereafter according to which the “terrorists” were members of Securitate “special units”).  Far from a unique case, Dutu was to later escape prosecution based on the medical diagnosis of having “exercised poor judgment” as a result of “shock”:

In episode two, Soucoup related the words of the mortally-wounded rugby player Bogdan Serban Stan, who insisted that “I was shot by a civilian near me,” while defending the Television Station.  Elsewhere in 1990, Soucoup was one of those who discussed the use of 5,6 mm caliber ammunition by those they were fighting against, the terrorists.  Elena Bancila, the tenacious, grieving mother of Bogdan Serban Stan, detailed how the medical records at the hospital to which her son was taken showed he had been hit with a bullet smaller than 6 mm:

In episode three, we looked at video evidence from 24 December 1989 in the streets surrounding the Television building.  In one of the videos, a revolutionary demonstrates for the camera the difference between the size of the bullets the enemy, the terrorists, were firing, and the standard ammunition the military and civilians were using.  In the second, a draftee described the difference between the weapons they were using and those of the terrorists:

In episode four, we looked at the comments of weapons’ specialists who in early January 1990 recounted that the “terrorists” had most likely used among other weapons, 5,6 mm Heckler-Koch guns–thereby indirectly confirming the above observations regarding the use of unusual ammunition by the “terrorists,” especially bullets under 6 mm caliber: .

In episode five, we saw how fellow former Military Prosecutor, General Magistrat (r) Ioan Dan, and soldiers, officers, and civilians cited in the first Senatorial Commission Report give details which corroborate what we learned from episodes 1-4.  Unlike General Dan Voinea, promoted and trumpeted by Tismaneanu Commission’s Final Report–who vigorously denies the use of any unusual ammunition in December 1989–these direct participants in the events that transpired in the Television zone believe that unusual ammunition was used:

In episode six, we examined other participant accounts which claim the use of atypical munitions–which explodes the myth peddled by Dan Voinea, his supporters, and the Tismaneanu Report.  Some refer to the aforementioned under 6 mm “vidia” bullets and others to exploding dum-dum bullets.

In episode seven, we returned to the first person account of Nicolae Stefan Soucoup inside and outside the Television station during those fateful days,

Soucoup outlines precisely the field of battle at the TV station, pointing out exactly from what buildings the terrorists fired, claims which corroborate many of the details outlined in military personnel in episode 5 (xeroxes reproduced below).

–Am putea realiza, pe scurt, o ,harta’ a vilelor din care s-a tras in Televiziune?

–Avind in vedere ca am actionat atit afara, cit si in interior, in zona studiourilor, pot sa va spun ca asupra Televiziunii s-a tras din cele 5 vile din strada Pangratii, pe care le vedeam de la cabina poarta din aceasta parte.  S-a tras din frontul doi de vile, cele de pe Calea Dorobanti.  S-a tras din B-dul Aviatorilor, nr. 72–o casa inalta, care avea unghi de tragere asupra Televiziunii.  S-a tras din Consulatul sovietic din Piata Aviatorilor, nr. 2-4.  S-a tras din tot frontul de vile de aici, incepind de la nr. 246, pina la 212, cit si din frontul doi de cladiri din spatele lor.  S-a tras de pe strada Teheran.  S-a tras si din strada Arhitect Cerchez, nr. 16 (vila lui Valentin Ceausescu), precum si din strada Muzeul Zambaccian, aici mai ales din vilele de la numerele 12, 13, 14.  S-a tras, de asemenea, din Institutul ,C.I. Parhon’ si din resedinta ambasadorului Angliei (Pangratti, nr. 15)…Acesta a fost frontul general de atac asupra Televiziunii, care s-a conjugat cu accesul prin interior al unor forte bine intruite, care s-au amestecat printre revolutionari.


(Tineretul Liber, interviu luat de Nicolae Tone, 21 decembrie 1991)




(from Revolutia Romana in direct, 1990, pp. 374-376)

A.I.– UM 1290 — ,In 22.12 ne-am deplasat la TV pentru asigurarea sigurantei institutiei…s-a dat ordin pentru distribuirea munitilor si instalarea mitralierelor de campanie…era in jurul orelor 18.00-19.00.  Cam dupa 30-60 min. s-a inceput sa se traga asupra noastra dinspre cladirile amplasate pe str. Pangratti si Calea Dorobantilor.  Focul armamentului avea ceva neobisnuit fate de armamentul pe care noi il aveam in dotare prezentand un zgomot mai strident.  Pe 23.12 s-a tras asupra noastra si cu arme de foc automat cam in jur de ora 10.00-12.00…o parte din gloantele care s-au gasit pe teren erau din otel cu Vidia la varf, celelalte normale…au fost raniti 2 militari in ziua de 23.12…s-a tras in ei din una din vilele aflate pe str. Pangratii…

D.V. — UM 0596 — Fiind la Punctul de Control la Poarta Pangratti in ziua de 22.12 in jurul orei 24.00, a inceput sa se traga in zona.  Observa trageri dinspre Ambasada Marii Britanii la intervale mari si cu armament usor, dar dupa zgomot nu stie ce fel e si nici ce calibru.  Oberserva ca in cladirea de pe colt la poarta Pangratti se auzeau focuri de arma cu un asemenea armament usor.

S.C. — Garda TV — Remarca ca se trage dinspre cladirile ambasadorului britanic cu arme de calibru mic si foc cu foc.  De asemenea, spre Televiziune se mai tragea din vila lui Valentin Ceausescu si dn vilele de pe Calea Dorobantilor.  In dimineata zilei de 23.12 se tragea din vilele pictorilor cu arme de calbru mic deoarece zgomotol era diferit de cel obisnuit.

%d bloggers like this: