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.

Posts Tagged ‘ceausescu’

Bullets, Lies, and Videotape: The Amazing, Disappearing Romanian Counter-Revolution of December 1989 (by Richard Andrew Hall)

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on December 8, 2010

Bullets, Lies, and Videotape:  The Amazing, Disappearing Romanian Counter-Revolution of December 1989[1]

by Richard Andrew Hall, Ph.D.

Standard Disclaimer:  All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or any other U.S. Government agency.  Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting or implying U.S. Government authentication of information or CIA endorsement of the author’s views.  This material has been reviewed by CIA to prevent the disclosure of classified information.  [Submitted 19 November 2009; cleared by PRB 15 December 2009]  I am an intelligence analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency.  I have been a CIA analyst since 2000.  Prior to that time, I had no association with CIA outside of the application process.

(PERHAPS) ONLY IN ROMANIA!:  Twenty Years Later Romanianists and Romanians Continue to Deny the Existence of Atypical Munitions in December 1989…Even Though Clear Video Evidence Exists to Confirm Their Presence!

DUM-DUM MUNITIONS OF THE SECURITATE’S ELITE SNIPERS (above); VIDIA BULLETS (below)

Holland & Holland (London) magnum bullets found in Securitate V-a building

VIDIA bullets (Bucuresti, zona TVR) below– individual demonstrates how much smaller they are than Army’s standard 7,62 mm munitions

VIDIA bullet

Possible VIDIA bullets (Brasov) below; doctor describing wounds to the head caused by these munitions

for full PDF file see here:

blv 111909tk6

blv 111909tk6 97 compat (for earlier versions of word)

His name was Ghircoias…Nicolae Ghircoias.

And in Romania in December 1989 and January 1990, Nicolae Ghircoias was a very busy man.

We know, officially, of Nicolae Ghircoias’ actions in the last days leading up to the fall of the regime of communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu on 22 December 1989, as a result of what he and others said at a trial later in January 1990.  In bureaucratic parlance, Colonel Nicolae Ghircoias, was the Director of the Criminalistic Institute of the Militia’s [Police’s] General Inspectorate.   In colloquial terms, in December 1989 it appears that this amounted to being something of a “cleaner,” or “fixer,” the kind of guy who could make unpleasant things—such as corpses—go away, without leaving a trace.

After regime forces opened fire on anti-regime protesters in the western city of Timisoara on 17 and 18 December 1989, Colonel Ghircoias was dispatched to recover the corpses of those with gunshot wounds from the city’s morgue.  The unautopsied cadavers of 43 demonstrators were stolen from the morgue in the dead of night and then transported to the outskirts of the capital Bucharest by refrigerated truck , where they were cremated.[2] Ghircoias was also in charge of collecting and destroying the hospital records and any other incriminating material that might indicate not just the death, but also the life of those who had perished—the official explanation for the disappearance of these citizens was to be that they had fled the country, thus taking their documents with them.  In other words, Colonel Nicolae Ghircoias’ job was primarily, it seems, the destruction of evidence.[3]

COLONEL GHIRCOIAS MAKES THE ROUNDS OF BUCHAREST’S HOSPITALS

Unofficially, we also know of Colonel Ghircoias’ exploits after the Ceausescu regime collapsed on 22 December 1989, exploits for which he was not charged at his trial and for which he has never been charged.  Of the 1,104 people killed and 3,352 people injured during the December 1989 bloodshed, 942 of them were killed and 2,251 wounded after Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu fled power on 22 December 1989.  At the time, personnel of the communist regime’s secret police—known as the Securitate—and allied foreign mercenaries fighting to restore the Ceausescu regime—collectively christened “the terrorists”—were thought to be the primary source behind the post-22 December bloodshed.

It was in this context, that doctors from Bucharest’s various main hospitals recall Colonel Ghircoias’ sudden, unannounced appearances during the last days of December 1989 and first days of January 1990.  Professor Andrei Firica of the Bucharest “Emergency Hospital” recounted in a 2004 media interview largely the same details he had conveyed to the press in the summer of 1990.  According to Firica, some 15 to 20 suspected terrorists had been interned at the “Emergency Hospital” in varying states of medical distress.  He says he made a small file of the medical situations of these patients.  A Militia colonel, whom he later was to see in [prisoner] stripes on TV as a defendant in the Timisoara trial—i.e. fairly clearly Ghircoias—came one day and counseled him to keep nosy foreign reporters away from the beds of the “terrorists,” stating ominously that “these were just terrorist suspects and he [Dr. Firica] didn’t want to wake up one day on trial for having defamed someone”!   The colonel later came and loaded the wounded terrorist suspects onto a bus and off they went.  Firica maintains the files he kept on the terrorist suspects “of course, disappeared.”  He noted, however, that he asked his son, who had studied theater and film at university, to film the terrorists tied down to the hospital beds, and he claims he gave copies of this cassette to the Procuracy.[4]

[5]

[In viewing these photos, witness what Constantin Fugasin recounted in “Unde ne sint teroristii?” Zig-Zag, in 1990, based in part on an interview with Dr. Andrei Firica:

At the Emergency Hospital 13 suspected of being what we call terrorists were interned.  Among these a few were definitely foreign, even though all had Romanian papers.  Two clearly had ‘Mongoloid’ (‘Asiatic’) features (one stated that his mother was Romanian, while his father was from Laos), while four others were Arabs.  Nevertheless, they spoke Romanian very well.  Doctor Nicolae Staicovici, who worked a time in Egypt and who treated them for a time spoke with them.  At a moment, he formed a question in Arabic.  One of the injured responded to him perfectly.  All were well-built, one was a ‘mountain of a man.’  He said nothing, although he probably had terrible pains.  There were also two terrorists who were not wounded.  One arrived at night, under some pretext.  Those on guard suspecting him, immobilized him.  He had on three layers of clothing and several ids.  They tied him to the stretcher, but although he appeared rather frail, at a given moment he ripped the restraints off.[6]]

[7]

[Dr. Andrei Firica, 2004:  From a diagnostic perspective, those who maintain that the terrorists didn’t exist are telling an outrageous lie…In the Emergency Hospital, people were brought who were shot with precision in the forehead, from behind, just a few yards in the crowd of demonstrators, such people who did this can only be called terrorists…[8]]

Dr. Nicolae Constantinescu, chief surgeon at the Coltea Hospital, also was paid the honor of a visit by Colonel Ghircoias during these days:

I remember that on 1 or 2 January ’90 there appeared at the [Coltea] hospital a colonel from the Interior Ministry, who presented himself as Chircoias.  He maintained in violent enough language that he was the chief of I-don’t-know-what “criminalistic” department from the Directorate of State Security [ie. Securitate].  He asked that all of the extracted bullets be turned over to him.  Thus were turned over to him 40 bullets of diverse forms and dimensions, as well as munition fragments.

To the question of whether he informed the Military Procuracy?

Of course, I announced the Prosecutor’s Office, and requested an investigation [of those shot in the revolution].  For example, when I showed them the apartment from where there were was shooting during the revolution, on the fourth floor of the ‘Luceafarul’ cinema, the prosecutors told me that they sought to verify it and uncovered that there was a Securitate ‘safehouse’ there and that was it.

In 1992, I signed along with other doctors, university professors, renowned surgeons, a memorandum [see page 5 for an article apparently linked to the memorandum] addressed to the Prosecutor General in which we requested an investigation regarding the wounded and dead by gunfire.  Not having received any response, after six months I went there to ask what was going on.  They told me they were working on it, and they showed me two or three requests and that was it.  One of the prosecutors took me into the hallway and told me “I have a child, a wife, it is very complicated.”  He asked me what I thought I was doing…I lit back into him, I told him I wasn’t just any kind of person to be blown off.

I showed him the x-rays of those who were shot, I showed him the bullets in the liver.  The x-rays exist, they weren’t my invention, I didn’t just dream all this up to demand an investigation!  I told them that there are some people who wish to find out the truth and they signed a memo to the Procuracy and they aren’t just anybody, but doctors with experience, experts in the field.  In vain, we requested ballistics tests and other research, in vain we presented forms, documents, x-rays, studies.  They did not want to undertake a serious investigation.[9]

Romania, December 1989:   a Revolution, a Coup d’etat, AND a Counter-Revolution

This December marks twenty years since the implosion of the communist regimeof Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. [10] It is well-known, but bears repeating:  Romania not only came late in the wave of communist regime collapse in the East European members of the Warsaw Pact in the fall of 1989 (Poland, Hungary, the GDR, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria), it came last—and inevitably that was significant.[11] Despite the more highly personalist (vs. corporate) nature of the Ceausescu regime, the higher level of fear and deprivation that characterized society, and the comparative insulation from the rest of the East European Warsaw Pact states, Romania could not escape the implications of the collapse of the other communist party-states.[12] Despite the differences, there simply were too many institutional and ideological similarities, or as is often most importantly the case, that is how members of both the state and society interpreted matters.   “Going last” [in turn, in show] almost inevitably implies that the opportunities for mimicry, for opportunism, for simulation[13] on the one hand and dissimulation[14] on the other, are greater than for the predecessors…and, indeed, one can argue that some of what we saw in Romania in December 1989 reflects this.

Much of the debate about what happened in December 1989 has revolved around how to define those events…and their consequences.[15] [These can be analytically distinct categories and depending on how one defines things, solely by focusing on the events themselves or the consequences, or some combination thereof, will inevitably shape the answer one gets].  The primary fulcrum or axis of the definitional debate has been between whether December 1989 and its aftermath were/have been a revolution or a coup d’etat.  But Romanian citizens and foreign observers have long since improvised linguistically to capture the hybrid and unclear nature of the events and their consequences.  Perhaps the most neutral, cynical, and fatalistic is the common “evenimentele din decembrie 1989”—the events of December 1989—but it should also be pointed out that the former Securitate and Ceausescu nostalgics have also embraced, incorporated and promoted, such terminology.  More innovative are terms such as rivolutie (an apparent invocation of or allusion to the famous Romanian satirist Ion Luca Caragiale’s 1880 play Conu Leonida fata cu reactiunea[16] , where he used the older colloquial spelling revulutie) or lovilutie (a term apparently coined by the humorists at Academia Catavencu, and combining the Romanian for coup d’etat, lovitura de stat, and the Romanian for revolution, revolutie).

The following characterization of what happened in December 1989 comes from an online poster, Florentin, who was stationed at the Targoviste barracks—the exact location where Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu would be summarily tried and executed on 25 December 1989.  Although his definitions may be too economically-based for my taste—authoritarianism/dictatorship vs. democracy would be preferable—and the picture he presents may be oversimplified at points, the poster’s characterization shows that sometimes the unadorned straighttalk of the plainspoken citizen can cut to the chase better than many an academic tome:

I did my military service, in Targoviste, in fact in the barracks at which the Ceausescu couple were executed…It appears that a coup d’etat was organized and executed to its final step, the proof being how the President of the R.S.R. (Romanian Socialist Republic) died, but in parallel a revolution took place.  Out of this situation has transpired all the confusion.   As far as I know this might be a unique historical case, if I am not mistaken.  People went into the streets, calling not just for the downfall of the president then, but for the change of the political regime, and that is what we call a revolution. This revolution triumphed, because today we have neither communism, nor even neocommunism with a human face.  The European Union would not have accepted a communist state among its ranks.  The organizers of the coup d’etat foresaw only the replacement of the dictator and the maintenance of a communist/neocommunist system, in which they did not succeed, although there are those who still hope that it would have succeeded.  Some talk about the stealing of the revolution, but the reality is that we live in capitalism, even if what we have experienced in these years has been more an attempt at capitalism, orchestrated by an oligarchy with diverse interests…[17]

This is indeed the great and perhaps tragic irony of what happened in December 1989 in Romania:  without the Revolution, the Coup might well have failed,[18] but without the Coup, neither would the Revolution have succeeded.   The latter is particularly difficult for the rigidly ideological and politically partisan to accept; yet it is more than merely a talking point and legitimating alibi of the second-rung nomenklatura who seized power (although it is that too).  The very atomization of Romanian society[19] that had been fueled and exploited by the Ceausescu regime explained why Romania came last in the wave of Fall 1989, but also why it was and would have been virtually impossible for genuine representatives of society—led by dissidents and protesters—to form an alternative governing body on 22 December whose decisions would have been accepted as sufficiently authoritative to be respected and implemented by the rump party-state bureaucracy, especially the armed forces and security and police structures.  The chaos that would have ensued—with likely multiple alternative power centers, including geographically—would have likely led to a far greater death toll and could have enabled those still betting on the return of the Ceausescus to after a time reconquer power or seriously impede the functioning of any new government for an extended period.

The fact that the Revolution enabled the coup plotters to seize power, and that the coup enabled the Revolution to triumph should be identified as yet another version—one particular to the idiosyncracies of the Romanian communist regime—of what Linz and Stepan have identified as the costs or compromises of the transition from authoritarian rule.  In Poland, for example, this meant that 65 percent of the Sejm was elected in non-competitive elections, but given co-equal authority with the Senate implying that “a body with nondemocratic origins was given an important role in the drafting of a democratic constitution”; in fact, Poland’s first completely competitive elections to both houses of Parliament occurred only in October 1991, fully two years after the formation of the first Solidarity government in August 1989.[20] In Romania, this meant that second-rung nomenklaturists—a displaced generation of elites eager to finally have their day in the sun—who to a large extent still harbored only Gorbachevian perestroikist views of the changes in the system as being necessary, were able to consolidate power following the elimination of the ruling Ceausescu couple.

The self-description by senior Front officials (Ion Iliescu) and media promoters (such as Darie Novaceanu in Adevarul) of the FSN (National Salvation Front) as the “emanation of the Revolution” does not seem justified. [21] It seems directly tied to two late January 1990 events—the decision of the Front’s leaders to run as a political party in the first post-Ceausescu elections and the contestation from the street of the Front’s leaders’ legitimacy to rule and to run in those elections.  It also seems difficult to defend objectively as a legitimate description, since even according to their own accounts, senior Front officials had been in contact with one another and discussed overthrowing the Ceausescus prior to the Revolution, since there had existed no real competing non-Ceausescu regime alternative on 22 December 1989 (an argument they themselves make), and since they had clearly not been elected to office.   Moreover, when senior former Front officials, Iliescu among them, point to their winning of two-thirds of the votes for the new parliament in May 1990 and Iliescu’s 85 percent vote for the presidency, the numbers in and of themselves—even beyond the by now pretty obvious and substantiated manipulation, surveillance, and intimidation of opposition parties, candidates, movements and civil society/non-governmental organizations that characterized the election campaign—are a red flag to the tainted and only partly free and fair character of those founding elections.

But if the FSN and Ion Iliescu cannot be accurately and legitimately described as the “emanation of the Revolution,” it also seems reasonable to suggest that the term “stolen revolution”[22] is somewhat unfair.  The term “stolen revolution” inevitably suggests a central, identifiable, and sufficiently coherent ideological character of the revolution and the presence of an alternative non-Ceausescu, non-Front leadership that could have ensured the retreat of Ceausescu forces and been able to govern and administer the country in the days and weeks that followed.  The absence of the latter was pretty clear on 22 December 1989—Iasi, Timisoara, and Arad among others, had local, authentic nuclei leading local movements (for example, the FDR, Frontul Democrat Roman), but no direct presence in Bucharest—and the so-called Dide and Verdet “22 minute” alternative governments were even more heavily compromised by former high-ranking communist dignitary inclusion than the FSN was (the one with the least, headed by Dumitru Mazilu, was rapidly overtaken and incorporated into the FSN).

As to the question of the ideological character of the revolt against Ceausescu, it is once again instructive to turn to what a direct participant, in this case in the Timisoara protests, has to say about it.  Marius Mioc[23], who participated in the defense of Pastor Tokes’ residence and in the street demonstrations that grew out of it, was arrested, interrogated, and beaten from the 16th until his release with other detainees on the 22nd and who has written with longstanding hostility toward former Securitate and party officials, IIiescu, the FSN, and their successors, gives a refreshingly honest account of those demonstrations that is in stark contrast to the often hyperpoliticized, post-facto interpretations of December 1989 prefered by ideologues:

I don’t know if the 1989 revolution was as solidly anticommunist as is the fashion to say today.  Among the declarations from the balcony of the Opera in Timisoara were some such as “we don’t want capitalism, we want democratic socialism,” and at the same time the names of some local PCR [communist] dignitaries were shouted.  These things shouldn’t be generalized, they could have been tactical declarations, and there existed at the same time the slogans “Down with communism!” and flags with the [communist] emblem cut out, which implicitly signified a break from communism.  [But] the Revolution did not have a clear ideological orientation, but rather demanded free elections and the right to free speech.[24]

Romania December 1989 was thus both revolution and coup, but its primary definitive characteristic was that of revolution, as outlined by “Florentin” and Marius Mioc above.  To this must be added what is little talked about or acknowledged as such today:  the counter-revolution of December 1989.  Prior to 22 December 1989, the primary target of this repression was society, peaceful demonstrators—although the Army itself was both perpetrator of this repression but also the target of Securitate forces attempting to ensure their loyalty to the regime and their direct participation and culpabilization in the repression of demonstrators.  After 22 December 1989, the primary target of this violence was the Army and civilians who had picked up weapons, rather than citizens at large.  It is probably justified to say that in terms of tactics, after 22 December 1989, the actions of Ceausist forces were counter-coup in nature, contingencies prepared in the event of an Army defection and the possibility of foreign intervention in support of such a defection.  However, precisely because of what occurred prior to 22 December 1989, the brutal, bloody repression of peaceful demonstrators, and because the success of the coup was necessary for the success of the revolution already underway, it is probably accurate to say that the Ceausescu regime’s actions as a whole constituted a counter-revolution.  If indeed the plotters had not been able to effectively seize power after the Ceausescus fled on 22 December 1989 and Ceausescu or his direct acolytes had been able to recapture power, we would be talking of the success not of a counter-coup, but of the counter-revolution.

A key component of the counter-revolution of December 1989 concerns the, as they were christened at the time, so-called “terrorists,” those who were believed then to be fighting in defense of the Ceausescu couple.  It is indeed true as Siani-Davies has written that the Revolution is about so much more than “the Front” and “the terrorists.”[25] True enough, but the outstanding and most vexing question about December 1989—one that resulted in 942 killed and 2,251 injured after 22 December 1989—is nevertheless the question of “the terrorists.”  Finding out if they existed, who they were, and who they were defending remains the key unclarified question of December 1989 two decades later:  that much is inescapable.

“LOST”…DURING INVESTIGATION:  WHEN ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE IS NOT EVIDENCE OF ABSENCE.[26]

From early in 1990, those who participated in or were directly affected by the December 1989 events have attested to efforts to cover-up what happened.  Significantly, and enhancing the credibility of these accusations, those who claim such things come from diverse backgrounds, different cities, and from across the post-Ceausescu political spectrum.  Further enhancing their credibility, in many cases, they do not attempt to place these incidents into larger narratives about what happened in December 1989, but merely note it as a fact in relating their own personal experiences.

Let’s take the case of Simion Cherla, a participant in the December 1989 events in Timisoara.  Here is how Radu Ciobotea recounted Cherla’s story in May 1991:

Simion Cherlea also arrives, agitated.  He received a death threat, wrapped in a newspaper.  Next to it, in his mailbox, a bullet cartridge was also found.  To suggest to him that that is how he would end up if…

–If I talk.  Or if I have a copy of the file that I removed on 22 December 1989 from the office of the head of the county Securitate.  There was a map of the 8 Interior Ministry formations from Timisoara and “registry-journal of unique ordered operational activities.”  I gave them to Constantin Grecu (since transferred to the reserves), who gave them to Colonel Zeca and General Gheorghe Popescu.  These documents were of great use…in the Army’s fight against the terrorists.

–Do you know what the deal is with such formations?…When I looked at the map, my eyes glazed over.  Their formations were for entire zones where 10 to 12 nests of gunfire were programmed to shoot at a precise hour and minute!  Can you imagine!  And I, because I was trying to help in the fight against the terrorists, I turned it over to them!  So now I asked for it to be used at the trial.  In the registry everything was written:  who ordered, who executed the mission, the place, the hour, how long it last, the impact.  Great, all these documents are now said to have disappeared.  And I am threatened that I too will disappear like them.[27]

The discovery and then disappearances of such maps showing the placement and actions of Interior Ministry units—in particular, the Securitate—was recounted by others in the early 1990s.[28]

Nor, as we saw earlier from Dr. Nicolae Constantinescu’s testimony above, could one count on the military prosecutor’s office.  Jean Constantinescu [no apparent relation], who was shot in the CC building on 23 December 1989, stated the following in a declaration he gave just last year (as recounted by the investigative journalist Romulus Cristea):

I had two encounters with representatives from the prosecutor’s office.  The first prosecutor visited me at home, around two months after the events, he listened and noted my account, and as a conclusion, informally, he said something to me such as “we already know a good part of the shooters, they can be charged and pay civil damages, you can be part of the lawsuit and request appropriate damages.”  After hesitating, I added such a request, at the end of my written declaration, which I signed….

The second prosecutor, who later came to head the institution [the procuracy], invited me after several months to the office near Rosetti Square.  At the end of the conversation, he attempted to convince me that we shot amongst ourselves [ie there was no real enemy, no terrorists].[29]

The second prosecutor’s actions, according to Constantinescu’s recounting, are very familiar.  Already in mid-January 1990, participants in the gunfights of Brasov were telling the press that important evidence was missing and that the former Securitate were attempting to change the story of December 1989:

Florin Crisbasan:  Now the securisti are spreading their version:  “You guys shot into one another like a bunch of idiots.”…About 100 people were arrested as terrorists, but now they tell us they no longer have them…documents are missing, they don’t know how or what type:  a video cassette that I wished to access, with film from the events, can no longer be found….

Emil Ivascu:  If they tell us that “we shot among ourselves,” how the hell do you explain the ammunition with which they [the terrorists] fired? A bullet would rip your foot apart.  We saw for ourselves these type of arms.  Could just average civilians have been in possession of these?[30]

In May 1991, Gheorghe Balasa and Radu Minea described in detail for journalist Dan Badea the atypical ammunitions they found in the headquarters of the Securitate’s Vth Directorate (charged with Ceausescu’s personal security) building, including dum-dum bullets and special bullets (apparently vidia bullets).  They noted the civilians and soldiers who had witnessed this find, and mentioned that a certain Spiru Zeres had filmed the whole sequence, cassettes that were available for the military procuracy.[31]

Journalist and documentary-maker Maria Petrascu, who with her since deceased husband Marius, had for years investigated the Brasov events, also drew attention to the type of ammunition used in December 1989 when she recalled in 2007 that, “For a long time the Brasov Military Procuracy didn’t do anything, although they had evidence, statements, documents, photos and even the atypical bullets brought by the families of those killed or wounded.”[32] A soldier shot on 23 December 1989 in Buzau recently admitted that his doctors changed their declarations regarding the bullet with which he had been hit—identified by another soldier with whom he was interned as a ‘vidia’ bullet—to standard 7.62 mm ammunition.[33] In fall 2006, the daughter of a priest recalled:

In December ’89, after he arrived from Timisoara, my father stayed with me on Stefan Cel Mare Boulevard [in Bucharest].  We returned to our home, on the corner of Admiral Balescu and Rosenthal.  I found the cupboard of the dresser pure and simple riddled with bullets, about 8 to 10 of them. Someone who knew about such things told me they were vidia bullets. They were brought to a commission, but I don’t know what happened to them.[34]

This echoes something that Army Colonel Ion Stoleru was saying back in 1992:  that the “terrorists” had “weapons with silencers, with scopes, for shooting at night time (in ‘infrared’), bullets with a ‘vidia’ tip.  Really modern weapons,” to which he added, significantly, The civilian and military commissions haven’t followed through in investigating this…[35]

And yet, amazingly—despite all these testimonies regarding the existence and use of atypical munitions, or perhaps better put, precisely because of them—as of August 1991, Rasvan Popescu could report that “of the thousands of projectiles shot against the revolutionaries during  December 1989, the Prosecutor’s office has entered into the possession of…four bullets.  A ridiculous harvest.”[36]

BANKING ON THE ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE…

If Rasvan Popescu’s account is correct, it is understandable why functionaries of the Ceausescu regime have long banked on an absence of evidence.  For example, when asked if other than the standard 7.62 mm caliber weapons belonging to the Army were used in December 1989, Dr. Vladimir Belis, the head of the Institute of Forensic Medicine (IML) at the time, claims he doesn’t know and can’t say, because he claims no autopsies were ever performed—leading journalists to conclude that “therefore the tales of terrorists who shot with ‘dum-dum’ bullets, ‘bullets with vidia tips’ or bullets of large caliber, atypical for Romanian military units, will remain just stories that can neither be confirmed nor denied.”[37]

Former Securitate officer-turned journalist, novelist, and celebrity, Pavel Corut, has written alternatively derisively and sarcastically—well-nigh tauntingly—about the existence of such atypical ammunition and its use in December 1989:

“…Later I read fantastical and pathetic accounts according to which this [Army] officer died by being ‘hit by vidia and explosive [dum-dum] bullets.’  It isn’t the only case of a solider killed accidentally in warfare…”[38]

“Now we know that all the information…was false:  there did not exist a special guard unit that pledged an oath of (legionary-like) fealty to the dictator, there did not exist snipers with infrared sighting systems, no one shot vidia bullets…”[39]

“Vidia bullets don’t exist anywhere in the world.  And yet even the Army believed that the ‘Securitate-terrorists’ used vidia bullets….All this information was designed to create [the impression of] terrorists.  To show the people and the whole world fanatical terrorists.”[40]

Last, but hardly least, military prosecutors with roots in the Ceausescu era, have assimilated or mirror such arguments.  General Dan Voinea who headed the investigations from 1997-2001 and 2004-2008 said as much:

Romulus Cristea (journalist):  “Did special ammunition, bullets with a vidia tip or dum-dum bullets, claim [any] victims?  The press of the time was filled with such claims…”

Dan Voinea:  There were no victims (people who were shot) from either vidia bullets or dum-dum bullets.  During the entire period of the events war munitions were used, normal munitions that were found at the time in the arsenal of the Interior Ministry and the Defense Ministry. The confusion and false information were the product of the fact that different caliber weapons were used, and therefore, the resulting sound was perceived differently.[41][42] (Emphasis added)

The wonderful legalistic (alibi-bestowing) logic for Voinea and his colleagues then goes something like this:   there exist victims requesting damages for injuries, loss of life, livelihood or property sustained during the violence of December 1989, their loss was real and deserves to be compensated by the Romanian state; but those initially considered guilty of causing much of this injury, loss of life, and damage and taken into custody in December 1989—the”terrorist” suspects—were released in January 1990, and so juridically there do not exist defendants; nor does there appear to still exist in the hands of the military procuracy much of the material evidence presented in 1990-1991—maps, videos, etc.—and, apparently, only four bullets; and no autopsies were officially performed on those shot in December 1989.  So in essence, the only things left are the crimes themselves and the testimonies of those interviewed over the past two decades:  no autopsy records, little material evidence, and the original suspects have gone missing…Conclusion:  no atypical munitions existed, were used, or maimed or killed anybody, and there were no terrorists, everyone shot into everyone else in the chaos of the moment—or in other words, the exact argument which as we have seen has been with us since Florin Crisbasan and Emil Ivascu of Brasov related the former Securitate’s “line of reasoning” in mid-January 1990.

VIDEO KILLED THE DICTATOR…AND EXPLODES THE LIES OF HIS  SUBORDINATES:

Four Videos in the Battle against Amnesia and Denial

For years, former Securitate and Militia personnel, and senior former communist party officials—in other words those most vested in the former Ceausescu regime and its legacy—have banked on the fact that the material evidence that could contradict their claims was absent, in fact did not and had never not existed.  As a result of the odd twists, turns, and vagaries of post-Ceausescu politics—combining rigidly partisan political narratives with a remarkable permeability to the arguments and information of “the enemy of my enemy”—it is also the case, ironically, that many on the liberal, anti-communist side of political spectrum, have become vested in this assumption too. [43]

Before the advent in the mid and late 2000s of user-generated content video sites, much of what had been seen of the Revolution came from the studios and cameras of Romanian Television or foreign networks.  The Internet and video sites such as Youtube, Daily Motion, and others have broken down the centralized control of other often individually-recorded images, ultimately challenging the sort of control over information exercised by a state agency such as, in this case, the military procuracy.

Video No. 1:  Bucharest, Securitate Archives in the Central Committee Building, Dum-Dum and Vidia Bullets

In the first video (posted by Alexandru2006 at http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7rojm_revolutia-romana-22-dec-1989-cd5_shortfilms) , the sequence from roughly 1:20 to 2:50 shows civilians in the bowels of the CC building in Bucharest—the focal point of the December events, from where Nicolae Ceausescu gave his famous “final speech” on 21 December and from which Front leaders addressed crowds on 22 December and after—showing the munitions found in the Archives of the PCR’s CC.  The “dum-dum” bullets of “the elite shooters/commandos”—he mentions they are of West German manufacture—are identified for the camera, as are smaller, special bullets—which appear, based on other video, photos, and accounts, to be “vidia” bullets.  [Following the two screen captures below is an article from 31 December 1989, “Cu ce trag teroristii?” (With What are the Terrorists Shooting), in which the journalist discusses having a West German-manufactured (RWS firm) “dum-dum” bullet in his hand, as well as the “unfortunately now-famous small bullets of 5,62 mm caliber” (vidia bullets).]

DUM-DUM MUNITIONS OF THE SECURITATE’S ELITE SNIPERS (above); VIDIA BULLETS (below)

Video No. 2: Bucharest, Piata Aviatorilor, near TVR (Romanian state Television) headquarters, Vidia Bullets

In the second video (posted by Alexandru2006 at http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7rob0_revolutia-romana-22-dec1989-cd4_shortfilms), a civilian shows how the bullets shot by “the enemy”—i.e. “the terrorists”—are different than the standard ammunition (7.62 mm) he and the others are using.  Based on other video, photos, and accounts, these appear to be “vidia” bullets—there are many testimonies from those who fought in the area near the TV station regarding these bullets.  [Below the screen capture:   a photo posted on the Internet by Alexandru Stepanian, that he claims is a photo of one of these vidia bullets]

Imaginea a glontului vidia de 5,6 mm, tras la poarta din Pangrati a sediului TVR, in 22-23 decembrie 1989, de tineri vlajgani, in blugi, prinsi, dar eliberati de tov. General Tudor, activat de tov. Ion Iliescu.

Material primit de la dl. Alexandru Stepanian.

www.portalulrevolutiei.ro, glont vidia, zona TVR, Alexandru Stepanian

Video No. 3:  Bucharest, Soft-nosed (“Dum-Dum”) Bullets Found in the Headquarters of the Securitate’s V-th Directorate

The third video was found by the blogger who goes by the handle “Claude 2.0” (Claude 2.0 Dupa 19 ani – Gloante dum-dum ? postare din 14 aprilie 2009). It shows people going through material including bullets found in the headquarters building of the Securitate’s Fifth Directorate (that charged with the personal protection of the Ceausescus).  An article from March 1990 appended below has a senior arms specialist discussing his being summoned during these days to the zone around the CC building (where the Vth Directorate building was located), where he verified that “soft-nosed” bullets (known colloquially as “dum-dum”) were discovered (he then goes into detail about their properties).  Discussion in the videotape about the box in which the bullets were discovered, as well as the comments of the arms specialist, suggest these were Kynoch-Magnum “soft-nosed” bullets—described in the article as “cartridges for [hunting] elephants.”

Video No. 4:  Brasov, Morgue, Atypical (“Vidia”) Bullets

Video 4 comes from part 7 of Maria Petrascu’s 2005 documentary film “Revolutionary Brasov” (Brasovul Revolutionar PARTEA 7 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9z4wLuma0Q).  It shows both the small, atypical, [“vidia”] bullets with which civilians and soldiers were killed, as well as an unidentified doctor speaking on 23 January 1990 in which he states that four of six soldiers he had looked at had been shot with great precision in the forehead with such bullets (film is also shown of their gruesome injuries).   Maria Petrascu has described elsewhere what she and her husband found on 29-30 December 1989 at the County Morgue:

Even the halls were filled with the dead, there were over 100.  They didn’t have any place to put them all, we walked through pools of blood, we saw the cadavers of children, young people, adults, shot in the forehead, in the heart, in the feet and abdomen with brains and intestines having exploded, nightmarish scenes that I shall never forget.  It was then that we decided we wouldn’t rest until we discovered who fired, because we had begun to understand that many of those killed had been shot by guns with infrared scopes, by some professionals.[44]

Those Who Have Told Us the Truth [45]

As opposed to the aforementioned Vladimir Belis, Pavel Corut, and Dan Voinea, all of whom who have strenuously and repeatedly denied the existence and use in December 1989 of atypical munitions of dum-dum bullets and vidia bullets, there exist those who have told us of the existence and use of these in December 1989.[46] They are essentially, for lack of a better term, former Securitate whistleblowers, who have admitted the Securitate’s role in providing the “terrorists” who caused so much destruction, mayhem, and loss of life in those days.

For years I have been essentially the sole researcher inside or outside the country familiar with and promoting the claims of 1) former Timisoara Securitate Directorate I officer Roland Vasilevici—who published his claims about December 1989 under the byline of Puspoki F. in the Timisoara political-cultural weekly Orizont in March 1990 and under the pseudonym “Romeo Vasiliu”—and 2) an anonymous USLA recruit who told his story to AM Press Dolj (published on the five year anniversary of the events in Romania Libera 28 December 1994…ironically (?) next to a story about how a former Securitate official attempted to interrupt a private television broadcast in which Roland Vasilevici was being interviewed in Timisoara about Libyan involvement in December 1989).

Vasilevici claimed in those March 1990 articles and in a 140 page book that followed—both the series and the book titled Pyramid of Shadows—that the USLA and Arab commandos were the “terrorists” of December 1989.  What is particularly noteworthy in light of the above discussion about “exploding [dum-dum] bullets” was his claim that the USLA and the foreign students who supplemented them “used special cartridges which upon hitting their targets caused new explosions” [emphasis added]—in other words, exploding or dum-dum bullets.[47]

The anonymous USLA recruit stated separately, but similarly:

I was in Timisoara and Bucharest in December ’89.  In addition to us [USLA] draftees, recalled professionals, who wore black camouflage outfits, were dispatched.  Antiterrorist troop units and these professionals received live ammunition.  In Timisoara demonstrators were shot at short distances.  I saw how the skulls of those who were shot would explode. I believe the masked ones, using their own special weapons, shot with exploding bullets.  In January 1990, all the draftees from the USLA troops were put in detox.  We had been drugged.  We were discharged five months before our service was due to expire in order to lose any trace of us.  Don’t publish my name.  I fear for me and my parents.  When we trained and practiced we were separated into ‘friends’ and ‘enemies.’  The masked ones were the ‘enemies’ who we had to find and neutralize.  I believe the masked ones were the ‘terrorists’.[48] [emphases added]

As I have pointed out, despite the short shrift given these two revelations by Romanian media and Romanianists, one group has paid close attention:  the former Securitate.  That is not accidental.[49]

Those discussed as alternatively “commandos” or “professionals” appear to have been members of the so-called USLAC—Special Unit for Anti-terrorist and Commando Warfare.  In 1991, Dan Badea summarized former USLA Captain Marian Romanescu’s description of the USLAC as follows:

THE USLAC COMMANDOS:

Those who had and have knowledge about the existence and activities of the shock troops subordinated directly to Ceausescu remained quiet and continue to do so out of fear or out of calculation.  Much has been said about individuals in black jumpsuits, with tattoos on their left hand and chest, mercenary fanatics who acted at night, killing with precision and withdrawing when they were encircled to the underground tunnels of Bucharest.  Much was said, then nobody said anything, as if nothing had ever happened.

Traversing the [Securitate’s] Fifth Directorate and the USLA, the USLAC commandos were made up of individuals who ‘worked’ undercover at different posts.  Many were foreign students, doctoral students and thugs committed with heart and soul to the dictator.  Many were Arabs who knew with precision the nooks and crannies of Bucharest, Brasov and other towns in Romania.  For training these had at their disposal several underground centers of instruction:  one was in an area near Brasov, while another—it appears—was right under the former headquarters of the PCR CC [communist party central committee building], a shooting range that was—discovered by accident by several revolutionaries during the events of December .”[50]

We also know from Romanescu and a second source that USLA commander Gheorghe Ardeleanu (Bula Moise) addressed his troops as follows:

“On 25 December at around 8 pm, after the execution of the dictators, Colonel Ardeleanu gathered the unit’s members into an improvised room and said to them:

‘The Dictatorship has fallen!  The Unit’s members are in the service of the people.  The Romanian Communist Party [PCR] is not disbanding!  It is necessary for us to regroup in the democratic circles of the PCR—the inheritor of the noble ideas of the people of which we are a part!…Corpses were found, individuals with USLAC (Special Unit for Antiterrorist and Commando Warfare) identity cards and identifications with the 0620 stamp of the USLA, identity cards that they had no right to be in possession of when they were found…’  He instructed that the identity cards [of members of the unit] had to be turned in within 24 hours, at which time all of them would receive new ones with Defense Ministry markings.” [51] [52]

In other words, a cover-up of a now failed attempt at counter-revolution—having been cut short by the execution of the Ceausescus, the object of their struggle—had begun.  In the days and weeks that were to follow, the Securitate, including people such as the seemingly ubiquitous Colonel Ghircoias discussed in the opening of this article would go about recovering those “terrorists” who were unlucky enough to be captured, injured, or killed.  By 24 January 1990, the “terrorists” of the Romanian Counter-Revolution of December 1989, no longer existed, so-to-speak, and the chances for justice and truth about what had happened in December 1989 would never recover.[53]

THE REVOLUTION WAS TELEVISED. THE COUNTER-REVOLUTION WAS VIDEOTAPED.

Poet, essayist, and NPR contributor Andrei Codrescu memorably turned Gil Scott Heron’s famous social commentary—“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”—on  its head, saying that contrary to what Heron’s song had led them to expect …in Romania, the revolution was televised!  But if you read on or listen to Codrescu closely, it would be more accurate to say that he, like many Romanians and Romanianists, believes that what happened in December 1989 was a coup d’etat—he talks about the“staging of the revolution” and how the coup plotters “seized the means of projection”—and thus what he really seems to intend to say is that “the coup d’etat was televised.”[54]

On the other hand, Vladimir Tismaneanu is quoted as once having memorably said:  ”The VCR killed Ceausescu even before his execution…It was the most important factor in terms of creating a mass consciousness.”[55] It is an important and insightful observation about the power of technology and the challenges it poses to centralized control, especially of the totalitarian state.

Ceausescu’s image and control was damaged by the video-player—to say nothing of, by live television, with the infamous “mirror-shattering” moment of 21 December 1989.  However, as this paper has demonstrated, it is the video-recorder that has undone his final and unfortunately (ever)lasting “Christmas gift” to his Romanian subjects, and that has undone the lies of those—including certain past military prosecutors with roots in the communist era—bent on covering this up.

[1]For some of my previous publications on this topic, see Richard Andrew Hall:

Hall 2008 http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/romrevfordumdums042108tk.html,

Hall 2006 http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html,

Hall 2005 http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/checkmate040405.html,

Hall 2004 http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/doublespeak%20romania%203-2004.html,

Hall 2002 http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/romania%20securitate%205-2002.html,

Richard Andrew Hall, “Theories of Collective Action and Revolution:  Evidence from the Romanian Transition of December 1989,” Europe-Asia Studies 2000, no. 6 (September 2000).

Richard Andrew Hall, “The Uses of Absurdity:  The ‘Staged-War’ Theory and the Romanian Revolution of December 1989,” East European Politics and Societies vol 13, no. 3 (Fall 1999) (University of California Berkeley Press).

[2] For a good discussion of this in English, which explains how cremation practices were  at odds with Romanian burial traditions, see the article entitled “The Red Mask of Death:  The Evil Politics of Cremation in Romania 1989,” in the journal Mortality, no. 15 (1).

[3]For more information online, see, for example, http://ro.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolae_Ghircoia%C5%9F, http://ro.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opera%C5%A3iunea_Trandafirul, http://www.romanialibera.ro/a51078/cine-a-organizat-furtul-cadavrelor-din-morga-spitalului-judetean.html, http://www.timisoara.com/newmioc/53.htm, http://www.timisoara.com/newmioc/67.htm. Even the 1994 SRI report admits that confusion surrounding the identity of those who were cremated stems from Ghircoias’ burning—after the flight of the Ceausescus on 22 December—of all relevant documents he had seized from the Timisoara county hospital http://www.ceausescu.org/ceausescu_texts/revolution/raportul_sri11.htm.  Thus, it seems appropriate to say Ghircoias’ job involved making things disappear…

[4]Professor Andrei Firica, interview by Florin Condurateanu, “Teroristii din Spitalul de Urgenta,” Jurnalul National, 9 March 2004, online edition, cited in Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html. For similar accounts, see Florin Mircea Corcoz si Mircea Aries, “Terorist ascuns in Apuseni?” Romania Libera, 21 August 1992, p. 1–“Colonelul Ghircoias, former director of the Securitate’s penal investigative unit, brought together the individuals accused of being terrorists and made them disappear”; Andreea Hasnas, “Reportajul unui film cu TERORISTI,” Expres, no. 10 (6-12 aprilie 1990), p. 5; Constantin Fugasin, “Unde ne sint teroristii?” Zig-Zag, 1990.

[5] Screen capture from http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7rp6b_revolutia-romana-2225-dec1989-part_shortfilms posted by Alexandru2006.

[6] Significantly this video is in direct contradiction and contests the claims of the Sorin Iliesiu who maintains that “General Dan Voinea has said clearly:  The terrorists did not exist.  Those who seized power lied to protect the real criminals….The diversion of the ‘terrorists’ has been demonstrated by [the] Justice [System], not a single terrorist being found among the dead, wounded or arrested  (Sorin Iliesiu, “18 ani de la masacrul care a deturnat revoluţia anticomunistă,” 21 December 2007, http://www.romanialibera.com/articole/articol.php?step=articol&id=6709).  For a discussion, see Hall 2008.

[7] Screen capture from http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7rp6b_revolutia-romana-2225-dec1989-part_shortfilms posted by Alexandru2006.

[8] Professor Andrei Firica, interview by Florin Condurateanu, “Teroristii din Spitalul de Urgenta,” Jurnalul National, 9 March 2004, online edition.

[9] Dr. Professor Nicolae Constantinescu, interview by Romulus Cristea, “”Nici acum nu-mi dau seama cum am putut sa operez nonstop timp de trei zile,” Romania Libera, 20 December 2006, online edition.

[10]The hyperbolic and popular academic designation of the Ceausescu regime as Stalinist is not particularly helpful.  Totalitarian yes, Stalinist no.  Yes, Nicolae Ceausescu had a Stalinist-like personality cult, and yes he admired Stalin and his economic model, as he told interviewers as late as 1988, and we have been told ad nauseum since.  But this was also a strange regime, which as I have written elsewhere was almost characterized by a policy of “no public statues [of Ceausescu] and no (or at least as few as possible) public martyrs [inside or even outside the party]”—the first at odds with the ubiquity of Nicoale and Elena Ceausescus’ media presence, the second characterized by the “rotation of cadres” policy whereby senior party officials could never build a fiefdom and were sometimes banished to the provinces, but almost were never eliminated physically, and by Ceausescus’ general reluctance to “spoil” his carefully created “image” abroad by openly eliminating high-profile dissidents (one of the reasons Pastor Tokes was harassed and intimidated, but still alive in December 1989)  (see Richard Andrew Hall 2006, “Images of Hungarians and Romanians in Modern American Media and Popular Culture,” at http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/huroimages060207tk6.html). Ken Jowitt has characterized the organizational corruption and political routinization of the communist party as moving from the Stalinist era—whereby even being a high-level party official did not eliminate the fear or reality of imprisonment and death—to what he terms Khrushchev’s de facto maxim of “don’t kill the cadre” to Brezhnev’s of essentially “don’t fire the cadre” (see Ken Jowitt, New World Disorder:  The Leninist Extinction, especially pp. 233-234, and chapter 4 “Neotraditionalism,” p. 142).   The very fact that someone like Ion Iliescu could be around to seize power in December 1989 is fundamentally at odds with a Stalinist system:  being “purged” meant that he fulfilled secondary roles in secondary places, Iasi, Timisoara, the Water Works, a Technical Editing House, but “purged” did not threaten and put an end to his existence, as it did for a Kirov, Bukharin, and sadly a cast of millions of poor public souls caught up in the ideological maelstorm.  Charles King wrote in 2007 that “the Ceausescu era was the continuation of Stalinism by other means, substituting the insinuation of terror for its cruder variants and combining calculated cooptation with vicious attacks on any social actors who might represent a potential threat to the state” (Charles King, “Remembering Romanian Communism,” Slavic Review, vol. 66, no. 4 (Winter 2007), p. 720).  But at a certain point, a sufficient difference in quantity and quality—in this case, of life, fear, imprisonment, and death—translates into a difference of regime-type, and we are left with unhelpful hyperbole.  The level of fear to one’s personal existence in Ceausescu’s Romania—both inside and outside the party-state—simply was not credibly comparable to Stalin’s Soviet Union, or for that matter, even Dej’s Romania of the 1950s.  In the end, Ceausescu’s Romania was “Stalinist in form [personality cult, emphasis on heavy industry], but Brezhnevian in content [“don’t fire the cadres”…merely rotate them…privileges, not prison sentences for the nomenklatura].”

[11] For a recent discussion of the “diffusion” or “demonstration” effect and regime change, see, for example, Valerie Bunce and Sharon Wolchik, “International Diffusion and Postcommunist Electoral Revolutions,”

Communist and Postcommunist Studies, vol. 39, no. 3 (September 2006), pp. 283­304.

[12] For more discussion, see Hall 2000.

[13]For discussion of the term see Michael Shafir, Romania:  Politics, Economics, and Society (Boulder, 1985).

[14]For discussion of the term see Ken  Jowitt, New World Disorder (University of California Berkely Press, 1992).

[15] For earlier discussions of this topic from a theoretical perspective , see, for example, Peter Siani-Davies, “Romanian Revolution of Coup d’etat?” Communist and Post-Communist Studies, vol. 29, no. 4 (December 1996), pp. 453-465; Stephen D. Roper, “The Romanian Revolution from a Theoretical Perspective,” Communist and Post-Communist Studies, vol. 27, no. 4 (December 1994), pp. 401-410; and Peter Siani-Davies, The Romanian Revolution of December 1989, (Ithaca, NY:  Cornell University Press, 2005), pp. 1-52 ff, but especially (chapter 7) pp. 267-286.  For a recent effort to deal with this question more broadly, see Timothy Garton Ash, “Velvet Revolution:  The Prospects, The New York Review of Books, Volume 56, Number 19 (December 3, 2009) at http://www.nybooks.com/articles/23437. For a good comparison and analysis of public opinion polling performed in 2009 and 1999 about classifying what happened in December 1989, see Catalin Augustin Stoica in http://www.jurnalul.ro/stire-special/a-fost-revolutie-sau-lovitura-de-stat-527645.html.

[16] http://ro.wikisource.org/wiki/Conu_Leonida_fa%C5%A3%C4%83_cu_reac%C5%A3iunea

[17] Entry from forum at http://www.gds.ro/Opinii/2007-12-20/Revolutia:+majoratul+rusinii!

[18]This is a point that was first made credibly by Michael Shafir in Michael Shafir, “Preparing for the Future by Revising the Past,” Radio Free Europe Report on Eastern Europe, vol. 1, no. 41 (12 October 1990).  It becomes all the clearer, however, when we consider that the XIV PCR Congress from 20-24 November 1989 went off without the slightest attempt at dissidence within the congress hall—a potential opportunity thereby missed—and that the plotters failed to act during what would have seemed like the golden moment to put an end to the “Golden Era,” the almost 48 hours that Nicolae Ceausescu was out of the country in Iran between 18 and 20 December 1989, after regime forces had already been placed in the position of confronting peaceful demonstrators and after they opened fire in Timisoara.  In other words, an anti-regime revolt was underway, and had the coup been so minutely prepared as critics allege, this would have been the perfect time to seize power, cut off the further anti-system evolution of protests, exile Ceausescu from the country, and cloak themselves in the legitimacy of a popular revolt.  What is significant is that the plotters did not act at this moment.  It took the almost complete collapse of state authority on the morning of 22 December 1989 for them to enter into action.  This is also why characterizations of the Front as the ‘counterstrike of the party-state bureaucracy’ or the like is only so much partisan rubbish, since far from being premised as something in the event of a popular revolt or as a way to counter an uprising, the plotters had assumed—erroneously as it turned out—that Romanian society would not rise up against the dictator, and thus that only they could or had to act.  It is true, however, that once having consolidated power, the plotters did try to slow, redirect, and even stifle the forward momentum of the revolution, and that the revolutionary push from below after December 1989 pushed them into reforms and measures opening politics and economics to competition that they probably would not have initiated on their own.

[19] I remain impressed here by something Linz and Stepan highlighted in 1996:  according to a Radio Free Europe study, as of June 1989 Bulgaria had thirteen independent organizations, all of which had leaders whose names were publicly known, whereas in Romania there were only two independent organizations with bases inside the country, neither of which had publicly known leaders (Juan J. Linz and Alfred Stepan, Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America, and Post-Communist Europe, (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), p. 352).  For more discussion of this and related issues, see Hall 2000.

[20] The presidency was also an unelected communist holdover position until fall 1990.  See Linz and Stepan, Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America, and Post-Communist Europe, pp. 267-274.

[21] For a discussion of the roots and origins of these terms, see Matei Calinescu and Vladimir Tismaneanu, “The 1989 Revolution and Romania’s Future,” Problems of Communism, vol. XL no. 1-2 (January-April 1991), p. 52, especially footnote no. 38.

[22] Stephen Kotkin associates the concept, accurately if incompletely, with Tom Gallagher and Vladimir Tismaneanu in Stephen Kotkin, Uncivil Society:  1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment (Modern Library Chronicles, 2009), pp. 147-148 n. 1.  Similar concepts have taken other names, such as “operetta war” (proposed but not necessarily accepted) by Nestor Ratesh, Romania:  The Entangled Revolution (Praeger, 1991) or “staging of [the] revolution” [advocated] by Andrei Codrescu, The Hole in the Flag (Morrow and Company, 1991).  Dumitru Mazilu’s 1991 book in Romanian was entitled precisely “The Stolen Revolution” [Revolutia Furata].  Charles King stated in 2007 that the CPADCR Report “repeats the common view (at least among western academics) of the revolution as being hijacked,” a term essentially equating to “stolen revolution,” but as Tismaneanu headed the commission and large sections of the Report’s chapter on December 1989 use previous writings by him (albeit without citing where they came from), it is hard to somehow treat the Report’s findings as independent of Tismaneanu’s identical view (for an earlier discussion of all this, see Hall 2008)

[23] Mioc does not talk a great deal about his personal story:  here is one of those few examples, http://www.timisoara.com/newmioc/5.htm.

[24] Quoted from http://mariusmioc.wordpress.com/2009/09/29/o-diferentiere-necesara-comunisti-si-criminali-comunisti/#more-4973

[25]Peter Siani-Davies, The Romanian Revolution of December 1989, (Ithaca, NY:  Cornell University Press, 2005), p. 286.

[26] The origin of this phrase is apparently ascribed to the astronomer and scientist Carl Sagan, and only later became a favorite of former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

[27] Radu Ciobotea, “Spitalul groazei nu are amintiri,” Flacara, nr. 19 (8 mai 1991), p. 4.

[28] See the sources listed in endnote 59, Hall 2006.

[29] http://romuluscristea.wordpress.com/2009/04/21/cautari-dupa-20-de-ani/#more-2603 It would be interesting to say the least to know who the second prosecutor was, although I have my suspicions as to who it could have been.

[30] Mircea Florin Sandru, “Brasov:  Intrebari care asteapta raspuns (II),” Tineretul Liber, 17 ianuarie 1990, p. 1, p. III-a).

[31] I discussed all of this in detail, including a partial English translation of the article, in Hall 2008.

[32] http://www.portalulrevolutiei.ro/forum/index.php?topic=1.msg214 Reply #131.

[33] http://1989.jurnalul.ro/stire-special/baiete-ai-avut-zile-526579.html.

[34] Christian Levant, “Dacă tata nu-l salva pe Tokes, dacă nu salva biserici, tot se întâmpla ceva,” Adevarul, 30 September 2006, online at http://www.adevarul.ro/articole/dac-x103-tata-nu-l-salva-pe-tokes-dac-x103-nu-salva-biserici-tot-se-nt-mpla-ceva/200090.

[35] Army Colonel Ion Stoleru with Mihai Galatanu, “Din Celebra Galerie a Teroristilor,” Expres, no. 151 (22-28 December 1992), p. 4, and “Am vazut trei morti suspecti cu fata intoarsa spre caldarim,” Flacara, no. 29 (22 July 1992), p. 7.  Cited in Hall, 2008.

[36] Rasvan Popescu, “Patru gloante dintr-o tragedie,” Expres, nr. 32 (81) 13-19 August 1991, p. 10 (?).

[37] Laura Toma, Toma Roman Jr. , and Roxana Ioana Ancuta, “Belis nu a vazut cadavrele Ceausestilor,” Jurnalul National, 25 October 2005, http://www.jurnalul.ro/articole/34668/belis-nu-a-vazut-cadavrele-ceausestilor, discussed in Hall 2008.

[38] Paul Cernescu (aka Pavel Corut), “Cine a tras in noi?” Expres Magazin, nr. 66 (43) 30 October-5 November 1991, p. 12.  Paul Cernescu is Pavel Corut’s acknowledged alias.  During his journalistic career at Ion Cristoiu’s Expres Magazin, he began by writing under this pseudonym.

[39] Paul Cernescu (aka Pavel Corut), “Cine a tras in noi?” Expres Magazin, nr. 65 (42) 23-29 October 1991, p. 12.

[40] Pavel Corut, Fulgerul Albastru (Bucuresti:  Editura Miracol, 1993), p. 177.  For background in English on Corut, see Michael Shafir, “Best Selling Spy Novels Seek To Rehabilitate Romanian ‘Securitate,'” in Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Research Report, Vol. 2, no. 45, pp. 14-18.

[41] General Dan Voinea, interview by Romulus Cristea, “Toti alergau dupa un inamic invizibil,” Romania Libera, 22 December 2005, online edition.  Reproduced at, for example, http://asociatia21decembrie.ro/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=31&sid=f9403c7a52a7ac9c8b53b8042226f135.

See also the claims of former military prosecutor Teodor Ungureanu (Facultatea de Drept, 1978) also in December 2005, at, for example, http://www.piatauniversitatii.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=3912&sid=c76d79333718bc7fdfad0eb8e22eb913

and

http://www.piatauniversitatii.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=202&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0. Nor does Teodoru Ungureanu believe in terrorists, vidia bullets, dum-dum bullets, or atypical ammunition:

“La cele de mai sus va trebui să adăugăm fabulaţiile cu privire la celebrele “gloanţe-widia”. Prin lansarea acestei aberaţii, cei mai de seamă reprezentanţi ai Armatei s-au compromis lamentabil. Ceea ce prezentau în emisiuni tv ori în paginile unor ziare ca fiind teribilele instrumente ale morţii, nu erau nimic altceva decât miezurile din oţel care intrau în alcătuirea internă a proiectilului cal. 7,62 mm-scurt destinat armelor tip AKM. Tot aşa aveau să fie făcute speculaţii asupra folosirii muniţiei explozive (de tip dum-dum), de către persoane care erau fie străine de efectele povocate asupra corpului uman de proiectile cu diverse energii cinetice (la momentul străpungerii), ori de fragmente din proiectile dezmembrate la un anterior impact cu un corp dur, fie de cei angajaţi într-o reală acţiune de dezinformare….”

[42] According to Sorin Iliesiu, the filmmaker who claims to have edited the chapter on December 1989 in the so-called Tismaneanu Raport Final, the “spirit of Voinea’s findings can be found in the Chapter.”  Indeed, the chapter includes snippets from an interview between Dan Voinea and Andrei Badin (Adevarul , December 2006).  The “indefatigable” Voinea, as Tom Gallagher has referred to him, continues to be defended by Vladimir Tismaneanu who has expressed support for Voinea’s investigations “from both a juridic and historic viewpoint” (see the entries for 21 September 2009 at http://tismaneanu.wordpress.com), avoiding any mention of the reasons for Voinea’s dismissal from the Military Procuracy, mistakes that Prosecutor General Laura Codruta Kovesi says “one wouldn’t expect even from a beginner” (for more on this and background, see Hall 2008):

Ce îi reproşaţi, totuşi, lui Voinea? Punctual, ce greşeli a făcut în instrumentarea cauzelor?

Sunt foarte multe greşeli, o să menţionez însă doar câteva. Spre exemplu, s-a început urmărirea penală faţă de persoane decedate. Poate îmi explică dumnealui cum poţi să faci cercetări faţă de o persoană decedată! Apoi, s-a început urmărirea penală pentru fapte care nu erau prevăzute în Codul Penal. În plus

, deşi nu a fost desemnat să lucreze, spre exemplu, într-un dosar privind mineriada (repartizat unui alt procuror), domnul procuror Dan Voinea a luat dosarul, a început urmărirea penală, după care l-a restituit procurorului de caz. Vă imaginaţi cum ar fi dacă eu, ca procuror general, aş lua dosarul unui coleg din subordine, aş începe urmărirea penală după care i l-aş înapoia. Cam aşa ceva s-a întâmplat şi aici.

Mai mult, a început urmărirea penală într-o cauză, deşi, potrivit unei decizii a Înaltei Curţi de Casaţie şi Justiţie, era incompatibil să mai facă asta. E vorba despre dosarul 74/p/1998 (dosar în care Voinea l-a acuzat pe fostul preşedinte Ion Iliescu că, în iunie 1990, a determinat cu intenţie intervenţia în forţă a militarilor împotriva manifestanţilor din Capitală – n.r.).

Apoi au fost situaţii în care s-a început urmărirea penală prin acte scrise de mână, care nu au fost înregistrate în registrul special de începere a urmăririi penale. Aceste documente, spre exemplu, nu prevedeau în ce constau faptele comise de presupuşii învinuiţi, nu conţin datele personale ale acestora. De exemplu, avem rezoluţii de începere a urmăririi penale care-l privesc pe Radu Ion sau pe Gheorghe Dumitru, ori nu ştim cine este Gheorghe Dumitru, nu ştim cine este Radu Ion.

„Parchetul să-şi asume tergiversarea anchetelor”

Credeţi că, în cazul lui Voinea, au fost doar greşeli sau că a fost vorba de intenţie, ştiind că acuzaţii vor scăpa?

Nu cunosc motivele care au stat la baza acestor decizii şi, prin urmare, nu le pot comenta.

Poate fi vorba şi despre complexitatea acestor dosare?

Când ai asemenea dosare în lucru, nu faci astfel de greşeli, de începător. Eşti mult mai atent când ai cauze de o asemenea importanţă pentru societatea românească.

Excerpted from http://www.evz.ro/articole/detalii-articol/868918/Kovesi-despre-revolutia-ratata-a-lui-Voinea-A-gresit-ca-un-incepator/

[43] See, especially Hall 1999 and Hall 2002 for a discussion.

[44] Reproduced at http://www.portalulrevolutiei.ro/forum/index.php?topic=1.msg214.

[45] This section borrows heavily from Hall 2008 and Hall 2006.

[46] In addition to these videos, I have thus far accumulated 45 mentions/claims of use of dum-dum and/or vidia bullets in December 1989.  These include the testimonies of doctors who treated the wounded, but also military officers—not just recruits—who are familiar with ballistics.  Separately, I also have accumulated 36 mentions/claims of people who were either killed or wounded by such atypical munitions during the events.  Significantly, these include people killed or wounded prior to 22 December 1989 as well as after, and they are from multiple cities and a variety of locations for both periods—suggesting not accident, but a well-executed plan by the repressive forces of the Ceausescu regime, the Securitate and their foreign mercenary allies.  See Hall 2008 for some of these.

[47] Puspoki F., “Piramida Umbrelor (III),” Orizont (Timisoara), no. 11 (16 March 1990) p.4, and Roland Vasilevici, Piramida Umbrelor (Timisoara:  Editura de Vest, 1991), p. 61.

[48] “Dezvaluiri despre implicarea USLA in evenimentele din decembrie ’89,” Romania Libera, 28 December 1994, p.3.

[49] For the discussion of the former Securitate response to those who have violated the code of silence, see Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian,” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html .

[50] Captain Marian Romanescu, with Dan Badea, “USLA, Bula Moise, teroristii si ‘Fratii Musulmani’,” Expres (2-8 July 1991), pp. 8-9.

[51] Captain Marian Romanescu, with Dan Badea, “USLA, Bula Moise, teroristii si ‘Fratii Musulmani’,” Expres (2-8 July 1991), pp. 8-9.

[52] What evidence do we have that the “USLAC”—a reference attributed to Ardeleanu, discussed by Romanescu, and alluded to by Vasilevici (“commandos,” he specified the involvement of Arabs in his book) and the anonymous recruit (the “professionals in black camouflage”)—in fact existed?  To me, the most convincing evidence comes from the comments of Dr. Sergiu Tanasescu, the medical trainer of the Rapid Bucharest soccer team, who was directly involved in the fighting at the Central Committee building.  One has to realize that until his comments in March 1990, the very acronym “USLAC” and its extension does not appear to have appeared in the Romanian media—and has very rarely appeared since.  Here is what he said:

Ion K. Ion (reporter at the weekly Cuvintul):  The idea that there were foreign terrorists has been circulating in the press.

Sergiu Tanasescu (trainer for the Bucharest Rapid soccer club):  I ask that you be so kind as to not ask me about the problem because it is a historical issue.  Are we in agreement?

I.I.:  O.K.

Tanasescu:  I caught a terrorist myself, with my own hands.  He was 26 years old and had two ID cards, one of a student in the fourth year of Law School, and another one of Directorate V-a U.S.L.A.C. Special Unit for Antiterrorist and Commando Warfare [emphasis added].  He was drugged.  I found on him a type of chocolate, “Pasuma” and “Gripha” brands.  It was an extraordinarily powerful drug that gave a state of euphoria encouraging aggression and destruction, and an ability to go without sleep for ten days.  He had a supersophisticated weapon, with nightsights [i.e. lunetisti], with a system for long-distance sound…

Ion K. Ion:  What happened to those terrorists who were caught?

S.T.:  We surrendered them to organs of the military prosecutor.  We caught many in the first days, their identity being confirmed by many, by Colonel Octavian Nae [Dir. V-a], Constantin Dinescu (Mircea’s uncle), [Army Chief of Staff, General] Guse, but especially by [Securitate Director] Vlad who shouted at those caught why they didn’t listen to his order to surrender, they would pretend to be innocent, but the gun barrels of their weapons were still warm from their exploits.  After they would undergo this summary interrogation, most of them were released.

I.I.:  Why?

S.T.:  Because that’s what Vlad ordered.  On 22 December we caught a Securitate major who was disarmed and let go, only to capture him again the next day, when we took his weapon and ammo and again Vlad vouched for him, only to capture him on the third day yet again.  We got annoyed and then arrested all of them, including Vlad and Colonel Nae, especially after a girl of ours on the first basement floor where the heating system is located found him transmitting I don’t know what on a walkie-talkie.

I.I.:  When and how were the bunkers discovered?

S.T.:  Pretty late in the game, in any case only after 24 December.  Some by accident, most thanks to two individuals [with a dog].

Sergiu Tanasescu, interview by Ion K. Ion, “Dinca si Postelnicu au fost prinsi de pantera roz!” Cuvintul, no. 8-9, 28 March 1990, 15.  From Hall, 2006.

[53] For some of the discussion of how the problem was made to “go away,” see Hall 2006 and the section “Foreign Involvement.”

[54] Andrei Codrescu, The Hole in the Flag (Morrow and Company, 1991).  For a discussion of this Codrescu’s sources and arguments, including his allegations of a Yalta-Malta conspiracy, see Hall 2005.

[55] Quoted in Alexander Stille, “Cameras Shoot Where Uzis Can’t,” New York Times, 20 September 20 2003, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/20/arts/cameras-shoot-where-uzis-can-t.html.

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Romania December 1989. ‘Mos G(h)erila’: Nicolae Ceausescu’s Final and Lasting ‘Christmas Gift’ to His Romanian Subjects

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on May 1, 2010

THE ROMANIAN REVOLUTION FOR DUM-DUMS:

(like me…and perhaps even you)

by Richard Andrew Hall, Ph.D.

Standard Disclaimer: All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or any other U.S. Government agency. Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting or implying U.S. Government authentication of information or CIA endorsement of the author’s views. This material has been reviewed by CIA to prevent the disclosure of classified information.

I am an intelligence analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency. I have been a CIA analyst since 2000. Prior to that time, I had no association with CIA outside of the application process. [Submitted for clearance 22 April 2008, approved 22 May 2008]


I have been researching the Revolution for the better part of the past 18 years. I first visited Romania in 1987 while backpacking through Europe, and I spent a total of about 20 months in the country during the years 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993-1994, and 1997, when I conducted pre-dissertation, dissertation, and post-dissertation research on the Revolution.

I have written on the topic of the Revolution, voluminously some might say, publishing in 1996, 1999, and 2000 before joining the Agency, and since I entered the Agency in 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2006.

It will and should be hard to believe for the outsider to this problem, but my work has been essentially the only systematic, ongoing investigation of the ballistics evidence—such are the shortcomings of small “communities of interest” investigating a peripheral historical topic and the perils of “group think.”

This article is, for lack of a better description, about “connecting the dots.”


–The story of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989 since December 1989 has been the struggle of disparate voices who share their memories, often with great frustration and a sense of resignation. They are hardly a unified chorus.

The accounts of ideologues seek to suggest to us that “the truth” miraculously is the province of people of this or that particular political persuasion in post-communist Romania. That is morality play and fairy tale; it is not the work of the serious historian. Would that history were so neat and tidy! It is not.

Instead, what one finds is that the people with the details that matter most are spread across the ideological and political spectrum—including people with what many of us might term distasteful, illiberal, ultranationalist, and nostalgic views.

There are those who relate these details in a narrative consistent with where those details lead.

There are those who relate these details even though it contradicts their narrative and ultimate conclusions about December 1989.

Finally, there are those—and there are many of them—who just know they experienced what they experienced. They aren’t sure exactly how it fits in with a larger narrative: they merely want to tell their story.

Together, they relate these details in the face of cynicism, indifference, and an often stunning intellectual conceit and deaf ear.

Theirs, however, and not the ideologues’, is the story of December 1989.


There was a lot of talk during the crimes of December ’89 about the special bullets with which the young and old alike were killed, bullets which—it is said were not in the arsenal of our military units. There was so much talk that there was no more to say and after there was no more to say for a sufficient amount of time the discussion was reopened with the line “such things don’t exist!” The special bullets didn’t exist!—our highest authorities hurried to tell us…In order to search for proof a little work is necessary by our legal organs that they are not terribly inclined to take….

[Dan Badea, “Gloante speciale sau ce s-a mai gasit in cladirea Directiei a V-a,” Expres, 16-22 April 1991]

image-8

image-7

The Internet allows the researcher to piece together history as never before. That’s a pretty bland statement, but the reality of it never ceases to amaze me. Take the case of those killed in the Romanian Revolution of December 1989 (officially 1,104 people perished in those events). Scroll through the list of those killed on the procesulcomunismului (“the trial of communism”) and portalulrevolutiei (“the portal to the revolution”) websites. For most, there is only limited information about the circumstances in which they died. For others, however, there is greater detail. As one scrolls through the names and photos, one of the similarities that begins to become apparent is that in cases where there is more information about the circumstances of the death, dum-dum bullets are mentioned. Thus, for example, we find the following five cases:

BUTIRI Florin, born in Joia Mare, 11 April 1969, he was living in Bucharest and was employed by the Bucharest Metro. He played rugby. On 22 December he participated in the demonstration at Sala Dalles [next to University Square]. On 23 December he went to defend the Radio Broadcast center on str. Nuferilor, and while he was saving some old people from a burning building he was shot. Brought to the Military Hospital because of a wound to his hip, caused by a dum-dum cartridge, they tried to ampute a leg. His stomach was also ravaged by a bullet. On 26 December 1989 he died. (http://www.procesulcomunismului.com/marturii/fonduri/ioanitoiu/aeroi/docs/album_2.htm)

FILOTI Claudiu
Profession: Lieutenant major UM 01171 Buzau, post-mortem Captain
Born: 30 July 1964
Birthplace: Vaslui
Date of death: 22 December 1989
Place of death: Bucharest, in the area of the Defense Ministry
Cause of death: Shot in the chest with dum-dum bullets (http://www.portalulrevolutiei.ro/index.php?menu=1&jud=53)

LUPEA Ion- Gabriel from Hunedoara, born in 1970…In 1989 he was sent from Bucharest to Anina [Resita], then to UM 01929. On 9 December 1989, he went on leave, but he was recalled. On the evening of 23 December he was on duty defending the unit [Anina-Resita], at the checkpoint, when around 11 pm they were attacked from the front and from the left flank. While crawling on hands and knees to bring more ammunition he was hit by a dum-dum bullet that entered above his left leg and exited through his left hand. Brought to the hospital he died Christmas Eve, making him the unit’s first hero; he was posthumously awarded the rank of sub-lieutenant. (http://www.procesulcomunismului.com/marturii/fonduri/ioanitoiu/aeroi/docs/album_5.htm)

MANESCU Dan, born 25 March 1964, a student in the Transportation Department, he joined with the other young people on 21 December and participated in the demonstrations in the center of the town [Bucharest]. Friday morning he went with his brother to the demonstrations and he returned after the flight of the dictator. He changed his clothes and returned for good, when on the night of 22/23 December a dum-dum bullet punctured his stomach in Palace Square. Brought to the Emergency hospital, he could not be saved. (http://www.procesulcomunismului.com/marturii/fonduri/ioanitoiu/aeroi/docs/album_5.htm)

POPTEAN Petre, born 27 December 1965, in Margau near Huedin, living in Bucharest…he worked as a driver for the Bucharest Transportation Department. On 21 December he went into town to protect his sister on her way home from work. The two of them left on Calea Victoriei and arrived at [Sala] Dalles, where in horror they watched…Petre called to his sister to aid the wounded. While on the ground, he was hit in the abdomen and left hip by dum-dum cartridges that caused him major wounds. His sister, Monica, was able to stop an ambulance with a Targoviste license number, but he didn’t make it to Hospital 9. At around 6 pm Petre passed away. (http://www.procesulcomunismului.com/marturii/fonduri/ioanitoiu/aeroi/docs/album_7.htm)

Let me draw the attention of the reader to two important details here. First, the use of dum-dum munitions was not confined to Bucharest (multiple locations), but includes the southwestern city of Resita (the case of Ion Lupea). Second, the use of dum-dum munitions occurred not just after communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu fled at midday on 22 December 1989, but also before, on the evening of 21 December (the case of Petre Poptean).

Dum-dum bullets—which fragment and cause substantially more and more lethal damage to the organs of those who are hit—are outlawed by international convention (see more below). Moreover—or perhaps better-put, officially—no Romanian institution had them in their arsenal in December 1989. Yet, as we can see, almost two decades after the events, the obituaries of those gunned down in December 1989 include references to those munitions as having played a role not only in the wounding of people, but also in their deaths.

Despite the claims above attesting to not just the wounding, but the death of several people (civilians and soldiers) over several days in several locations from dum-dum bullets in December 1989, what did General Dan Voinea—removed from his post in December 2007 by Attorney General Laura Codruta Kovesi for violating basic judicial norms in another case[1]—who headed the investigations into December 1989 for well over a decade, have to say about them in late 2005? “Such things didn’t exist!”:

Romulus Cristea: “Did special ammunition, bullets with a vidia tip or dum-dum bullets, claim [any] victims? The press of the time was filled with such claims…”

Dan Voinea: There were no victims (people who were shot) from either vidia bullets or dum-dum bullets. During the entire period of the events war munitions were used, normal munitions that were found at the time in the arsenal of the Interior Ministry and the Defense Ministry. The confusion and false information were the product of the fact that different caliber weapons were used, and therefore, the resulting sound was perceived differently.[2] (Emphasis added)

So, there is no wiggle room here, no room for misinterpretation: according to Prosecutor Voinea , nobody was killed by dum-dum bullets in December 1989.

That’s a common claim among officials of the former communist regime—Voinea was a military prosecutor since 1982 and he was directly involved in the trial of the Ceausescus. Such conclusions were also repeated in late 2005 by Dr. Vladimir Belis, who was the head of the Medical Forensics Institute (IML) in Bucharest in December 1989: asked if other than the standard 7.62 mm caliber weapons belonging to the Army were used, he did not know and couldn’t say because he claimed no autopsies were ever performed.[3] The apparent official disinterest in munitions and autopsies is—ahem—shall we say “interesting” given the comments attributed to Belis’ subordinates and to doctors at Bucharest’s main hospitals—comments made in the early 1990s, but also made well over a decade later, in the mid 2000s.[4]

General Dan Voinea spoke in late 2005. Voinea’s argument that there were no dum-dum bullets, that there were no atypical munitions used, is directly linked to his contention that there were therefore “no terrorists” in December 1989. It has been routinely repeated in various forms by the media for well over a decade and by his supporters in intellectual circles at home and abroad. The encomia for General Voinea before and since that December 2005 interview by noted Romanian intellectuals and Romanianists are breathtaking. Tom Gallagher refers to him as the “indefatigable General Voinea”[5] and Western journalists have described him as “a one-man mission to uncover the truth about exactly what happened during those days.”[6] Sorin Iliesiu justifies his claims about the Revolution squarely on Voinea’s words:

General Dan Voinea has said clearly: The terrorists did not exist. Those who seized power lied to protect the real criminals….The diversion of the ‘terrorists’ has been demonstrated by [the] Justice [System], not a single terrorist being found among the dead[7], wounded[8] or arrested[9].”[10][11]

Highly problematic and damning for General Dan Voinea, Dr. Vladimir Belis, and fellow deniers are the following, detailed written testimonies of Gheorghe Balasa and Radu Minea presented by Dan Badea in April 1991, attesting to what they had found in December 1989 in the headquarters of the Securitate’s Fifth Directorate:

Balasa Gheorghe: From [Securitate] Directorate V-a, from the weapons depot, on 23-24 December 1989, DUM-DUM cartridges, special cartridges that did not fit any arm in the arsenal of the Defense Ministry were retrieved. Three or four boxes with these kinds of cartridges were found. The special bullets were 5-6 cm. in length and less thick than a pencil. Such a cartridge had a white stone tip that was transparent. All of these cartridges I personally presented to be filmed by Mr. Spiru Zeres. All the special cartridges, other than the DUM-DUM [ones] were of West German [FRG] make. From Directorate V-a we brought these to the former CC building, and on 23-24 December ’89 they were surrendered to U.M. 01305. Captain Dr. Panait, who told us that he had never seen such ammunition before, Major Puiu and Captain Visinescu know about [what was turned over].

In the former CC of the PCR, all of those shot on the night of 23-24 December ’89 were shot with special bullets. It is absurd to search for the bullet in a corpse that can penetrate a wall…

[of course, V-a worked hand-in-hand with the USLA, or the Securitate’s “special unit for anti-terrorist warfare,” and thus it was not suprising that in Directorate V-a’s headquarters…] Among things we also found were:…the training manual for the USLA. It was about 25 cm thick, and while there, I leafed through about half of it…[and I also came across] a file in which lots of different people under the surveillance of USLA officers were listed…

(Interviewed by Dan Badea, “Gloante speciale sau ce s-a mai gasit in cladirea Directiei a V-a,” Expres, 16-22 April 1991.)

Moreover, we know from the 2005 publication of the testimony of a detained V-th Directorate officer dated 2 February 1990, that he must have been asked to comment specifically on the existence of dum-dum ammunition—since he makes a point of emphasizing that “we didn’t have dum-dum ammunition or weapons with special properties, of foreign origin.”[12] So, in other words, we know from this interrogation document that six weeks after the Revolution, those who had taken power or at least the military prosecutors of the time were still interested in the existence of these munitions—thereby suggesting that they must have had some reason for believing in their existence, say for example the character of the injuries suffered by those shot during the events, as well as perhaps recovered bullet fragments, the testimonies of the doctors who operated on those wounded, etc…

Voinea’s ceaseless interviews and revelations during this period have been reprinted repeatedly since they took place and his conclusions been given wide circulation by journalists and people such as Sorin Iliesiu. Yet those who just relate what happened in December 1989 continue to mention the existence of dum-dum munitions. Thus, if one turns to the tourism site for the western border town of Curtici (near Arad) one can read the following about the history of the city, including the events of December 1989:

The following night [at the train station], the first team of five doctors from the Austrian “Lorenz Bohler” Hospital , who arrived in Curtici with a “hospital-wagon” took 18 people in critical condition to Austria for special treatment that lasted two to three months. That is, they needed organ transplants or special care, because of the monstrous results of dum-dum bullets.[13]

Or take the case of a poster on the 18th anniversary of the Revolution, who begins:

The Romarta (central Bucharest) file? What about the file on those who fired at me at the Astronomical Observatory on Ana Ipatescu Boulevard or those who at 1700 on 24 December fired near Casa Scanteii [press building] where I found a dum-dum cartridge in my bed—us having had to sleep in the bathroom.[14]

Finally, there are the cynical comments of those—no matter what they believe about December 1989—who cannot help but remember the dum-dum munitions and the horrible pain and trauma they caused their victims, many still living with the consequences of those wounds today…and how nobody wishes to remember them; for them, this is essentially a cruel, open secret.[15]

Unfortunately, no one in Romania has tied together such claims and the evidence I present above. I do not know how many of these people are still alive, but if the Romanian media were interested, the names are there for them to contact in order to confirm the claims above: Gheorghe Balasa, Radu Minea, Spiru Zeres, Major Puiu, and Captain Visinescu.

D’oh…Dum-Dum…(Tweedle) Dumb and (Tweedle) Dumber: Dum-Dum=Vidia

image-14

When I first viewed the youtube video “Romanian Revolution USLA attack Dec 23 1989 Revolutia” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlBRSxUVQ5E ), what struck me was: here, finally, after a decade and a half of almost unopposed revisionist denial, here was someone who claims to have been an eyewitness and has photos and details of the incident, and who maintains the now almost heretical idea that the Securitate’s “Special Unit for Anti-terrorist Warfare”(USLA for short) had indeed attempted to attack the heavily-guarded Defense Ministry Headquarters on Drumul Taberei in Bucharest on the night of 23-24 December 1989! But, in fact as we shall see, although important, that is actually not the most important thing about the one and only youtube video posted by “destituirea.”

For me the transcript of the USLA unit claiming to have witnessed army units attacking their own ministry and thus the supposed reason that the USLA men who witnessed it “had to be silenced by being killed”—a transcript leaked to the press in 1993 and which led scholars such as Denis Deletant and Peter Siani-Davies to consider this “case closed” essentially—was always highly problematic. It supplied what was said, but, if we are to believe the words of the USLA Commander Gheorghe Ardeleanu, speaking to the notorious Securitate cheerleader Angela Bacescu, it did not supply the much needed context: Ardeleanu claimed that he had been placed under arrest and that it was he who chose the names of the USLA officers who were to report to the Defense Ministry. The USLA units thus came in a situation in which those who had taken control of the country were in the Defense Ministry holding their commander under arrest.[16]

But more importantly, the transcript could not explain a) the lack of any corroboration since of these supposed Army units attacking the Defense Ministry on the night of 23-24 December 1989—truly hard to believe, given all the young recruits and given their comparative willingness to talk to the media after all these years, in comparison to the former Securitate, and b) the claims in summer 1990 by the Army cadre who had been involved in the firefight with the USLA and the interviews of civilians in the surrounding blocs of flats who had lived through the fighting in December 1989 and related what they had seen.[17] The interviewees had detailed the suspicious actions of the USLA convoy and made it clear that they came with less-than-friendly intentions.

Now, here, 17 years after those famous articles by Mihai Floca and Victor Stoica is a video supporting the claim that the USLA units attempted to force their way into the Defense Ministry. The photos of the inside of the USLA ABI vehicles and of the dead USLA men (wearing black jumpsuits underneath Army clothing) are perhaps the most extensive and detailed seen to date, and the anonymous poster plays coy as to where he got them from (he claims he does not want to reveal the source—something which, given the sensitivity of the issue, I am not surprised by).

But, as I mentioned previously, it is actually not the confirmation of this understanding of the Defense Ministry incident that is the most significant thing about this youtube video. It is at the 2:01-2:05 of 8:50 mark of this silent video that the poster makes the following interesting and critical insight/claim…

USLA’s bullets were called “vidia” or “dum-dum” were usually smaller than the regular army’s bullets…Most of the capital’s residents have found this type of bullets all around the military buildings near by. (at 2:01 of 8:50)[18]

And thus, it becomes clear that the discussion of “vidia” bullets and “dum-dum” bullets is interchangeable (or at least is treated as such)! (Hence, perhaps why Romulus Cristea asked his question of General Voinea as he did in December 2005: “Did special ammunition, bullets with a vidia tip or dum-dum bullets, claim [any] victims? The press of the time was filled with such claims…”) “Vidia” translates as “grooved,” and thus describes the modified feature of the bullets which makes them so lethal, thereby making the treatment of vidia and dumdum as de facto synonyms understandable.

This is critical because as I have previously written in detail, citing interviews and reminiscences in the Romanian press…vidia bullets showed up across the country in December 1989. In “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian: Prosecutor Voinea’s Campaign to Sanitize the Romanian Revolution of December 1989” (http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html) I detail examples of vidia bullets showing up across the country—Brasov, Sibiu, Bucharest (multiple locations), Braila, Caransebes, Craiova, and Hunedoara—as recounted by civilians and Army personnel, at various times since the events—not just during or right after. Such wide dispersion of the use of officially non-existent munitions is critical too because it infirms the notion that somehow demonstrators or the Army put their hands on such “free floating weapons” and used them during the December 1989 events—that it would have happened in one or two places could be explained, but that the same thing would happen in so many geographic centers is scarcely plausible.

Recall from our earlier extract from Prosecutor Dan Voinea’s December 2005 interview, his unambiguous denial of the use of vidia munitions. Nevertheless, significantly, since that interview we continue to find people who remember what they remember and they remember the use of vidia munitions. I have found yet more references. Alexandru Stepanian, who writes under the motto “Dreptate si Onoare! (Justice and Honor!),” not only claims to still have a vidia bullet from 22-23 December 1989 in the area around the TV Station in Bucharest, but he has placed a photo of it on the portalulrevolutiei website.[19] In fall 2006, the daughter of a priest recalled:

In December ’89, after he arrived from Timisoara, my father stayed with me on Stefan Cel Mare Boulevard. When we returned to our home, on the corner of Admiral Balescu and Rosenthal. I found the cupboard of the dresser pure and simple riddled with bullets, about 8 to 10 of them. Someone who knew about such things told me they were vidia bullets. They were brought to a commission, but I don’t know what happened to them.[20]

In 2007 a book entitled The Tales of the Terrorists was published in Galati. In one section, a Eugen Stoleriu recounts his dispatch to Bucharest as a military recruit during the events and how for the first time in his life he came across vidia bullets that were shot at him.[21]

Another apparent synonym for “vidia” is “crestata” or “notched.” I take it that the reference is to the same type of munitions because the damage caused to those wounded by them was equally catastrophic. In December 2007, Alexandru Tudor, a soccer official famous apparently for his stern, unsmiling demeanor, who was shot on 23 December 1989 around 10 am in the area of Piata Aviatorilor near the TV studio, recounted the episode that ended his career:

They brought me to Colentina Hospital and there I had the great fortune of two great doctors. If they had operated on me, they would have to amputate both my legs beneath the knee, but instead they left the bullets in there 12 days. Their explanation was that the bullets were too close to arteries, and since they were gloante crestate (notched bullets), it was very dangerous. After they were removed, I kept the bullets, I have them at home. I was on crutches for six months, I went through therapy, but I had to give up soccer.[22]

Also on the 18th anniversary of the Revolution, a frustrated poster to another site asked pointedly:

Who in Romania in 1989 had 5.5 mm caliber NATO-type munition, that in addition was “notched”—something outlawed by the Geneva Convention, while it is known that the Romanian Army had only the caliber used by Warsaw Pact nations for their weapons, that is to say 7,62 mm….At that time even the Olympic speed shooting champion, Sorin Babii, expressed his surprise….I had in my hand several samples of this cartridge: small, black, with a spiral on the top, or with 4 cuts (those who know a little bit about ballistics and medical forensics can attest to the devastating role caused by these modifications). I await a response to my questions…perhaps someone will be willing to break the silence. I thank you in advance. [emphases added][23]

In other words, the existence of crestate/vidia/dum-dum bullets is known, and not everyone has so blithely forgotten their existence.

A Dum-Dum by Any Other Name: Gloante explosive (exploding bullets), gloante speciale (special bullets)

Crestate, vidia, dum-dum…by now we know: these are very dangerous munitions…

In the field of firearms, an expanding bullet is a bullet designed to expand on impact. Such bullets are often known as Dum-dum or dumdum bullets. There are several types of dum-dum designs. Two popular designs are the hollow point (made during the manufacturing phase) and X-ing made usually by the user by making two notches perpendicular to each other on the tip of the bullet, commonly with a knife. The effect is that the bullet deforms and sometimes fragments upon impact due to the indentations. This creates a larger wound channel or channels with greater blood loss and trauma.

The hollow-point bullet, and the soft-nosed bullet, are sometimes also referred to as the dum-dum, so named after the British arsenal at Dum-Dum, near Calcutta, India, where it is said that jacketed, expanding bullets were first developed. This term is rare among shooters, but can still be found in use, usually in the news media and sensational popular fiction. Recreational shooters sometimes refer to hollow points as “JHPs”, from the common manufacturer’s abbreviation for “Jacketed Hollow Point”.

To be most correct, the term “Dum Dum Bullet” refers only to soft point bullets, not to hollow points, though it is very common for it to be mistakenly used this way.

The Hague Convention of 1899, Declaration III, prohibits the use in warfare of bullets which easily expand or flatten in the body, and was an expansion of the Declaration of St Petersburg in 1868, which banned exploding projectiles of less than 400 grams. These treaties limited the use of “explosive” bullets in military use, defining illegal rounds as a jacketed bullet with an exposed lead tip (and, by implication, a jacketed base).[24]

Thus, under the synonym for dumdum/vidia/crestate bullets of “exploding bullets,” we find the following on the Internet:

On the evening of 27 December 1989, Eugen Maresi, 20 years old, a military draftee, was sent to organize a checkpoint on soseaua Chitilei, at the entrance to Bucharest….A group of 25 soldiers came under fire from the belltower of a church. Eugen was the first shot…. “The doctors told me my only child was shot with (gloante explosive) exploding bullets. The fragments shattered all of his internal organs,” says Dumitru Maresi, the father of the [Drobeta Turnu] Severin hero. http://2003.informatia.ro/Article42788.phtml

and

Gheorghe Nicolosu, was shot in the leg…After he was operated on, it was established that the bullet with which he was shot did not figure in [the arsenal of] the Romanian Army. Nicolosu was operated on in Hunedoara, then arrived in Italy, where he underwent another surgery…In the same area, on Lipscani, Cristea Valeria, 36 years old, was shot in the stomach by ammunition that did not belong to the army. He died a few hours later, the doctors trying to save his life, but the glontul exploziv (exploding bullet) perforated his intestines. Another youngster, 18 year old Ion Gherasim was shot in the back at the entrance to UM 01933 by munition that did not belong to the army. (Emphases added) http://www.replicahd.ro/images/replica216/special2.htm

Once again, we are speaking here of far-flung locations across the country—Chitila (Bucharest) and Hunedoara—which makes the idea of accident and “free floating weapons” unlikely.

Ammunition…Consistent with the Confessions of Former Securitate Whistleblowers

And so, who was it, who has told us about “exploding bullets” and “special cartridges” like this, and who has it been said possessed them in December 1989?

For years I have been essentially the sole researcher inside or outside the country familiar with and promoting the claims of 1) former Timisoara Securitate Directorate I officer Roland Vasilevici—who published his claims about December 1989 under the byline of Puspoki F. in the Timisoara political-cultural weekly Orizont in March 1990 and under the pseudonym “Romeo Vasiliu”—and 2) an anonymous USLA recruit who told his story to AM Press Dolj (published on the five year anniversary of the events in Romania Libera 28 December 1994…ironically (?) next to a story about how a former Securitate official attempted to interrupt a private television broadcast in which Roland Vasilevici was being interviewed in Timisoara about Libyan involvement in December 1989).

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Vasilevici claimed in those March 1990 articles and in a 140 page book that followed—both the series and the book titled Pyramid of Shadows—that the USLA and Arab commandos were the “terrorists” of December 1989. What is particularly noteworthy in light of the above discussion about “exploding bullets” was his claim that the USLA and the foreign students who supplemented them “used special cartridges which upon hitting their targets caused new explosions.”[25]

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The anonymous USLA recruit stated separately, but similarly:

I was in Timisoara and Bucharest in December ’89. In addition to us [USLA] draftees, recalled professionals, who wore black camouflage outfits, were dispatched. Antiterrorist troop units and these professionals received live ammunition. In Timisoara demonstrators were shot at short distances. I saw how the skulls of those who were shot would explode. I believe the masked ones, using their own special weapons, shot with exploding bullets. In January 1990, all the draftees from the USLA troops were put in detox. We had been drugged. We were discharged five months before our service was due to expire in order to lose any trace of us. Don’t publish my name. I fear for me and my parents. When we trained and practiced we were separated into ‘friends’ and ‘enemies.’ The masked ones were the ‘enemies’ who we had to find and neutralize. I believe the masked ones were the ‘terrorists’. [emphases added]

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As I have pointed out, despite the short shrift given these two revelations by Romanian media and Romanianists, one group has paid close attention: the former Securitate. That is not accidental. [26]

With the advent of the Internet, unverifiable bulletin board postings also pop up. On 23 December 2003, under the name of “kodiak,” the following appeared:

In ’89 I was a major in the USLA…and I know enough things that it would be better I didn’t know…15, 16, 20, 30 years will pass and nothing will be known beyond what you need and have permission to know…” (http://www.cafeneaua.com)[27]

Clearly, the legal constraints of security oaths and fear continue to cast a long shadow, long after the events of December 1989.

Si totusi…se stie [And nevertheless…it is known]

It took over three years into my research on the Revolution—and physically being in the Library of the Romanian Academy—before I came to the realization: oh yeah, that’s a good idea, yeah, I should systematically compare what the former Securitate have to say about December 1989 and compare it with what others are saying. It took a maddening additional half year before I came to the conclusion: oh yeah, and how about what the Army has to say? It may seem ridiculous—and it is in some ways indefensible from the perspective of performing historical research—but you have to understand how Romanian émigrés dominated early investigations of the Revolution, and how they divided the post-communist Romania media into the pro-regime (untrustworthy) press and the opposition (trustworthy) press, and the influence this “research frame” and methodology had at the time upon younger researchers such as myself.[28]

A more systematic mind probably would have come to these revelations long before I did. Instead, it took the accidental, simultaneous ordering of issues from 1990 and 1991 of the vigorous anti-Iliescu regime university publication NU (Cluj), the similarly oppositional Zig-Zag (Bucharest), and the former Securitate mouthpiece Europa to discover this. There I found Radu Nicolae making his way among diametrically opposed publications, saying the same things about December 1989. And it mattered: the source for example of Radu Portocala’s claim that there were “no terrorists” in December 1989 was Radu Nicolae. But more important still, was the discovery of Angela Bacescu revising the Defense Ministry incident, exonerating the USLA, and claiming there were no Securitate terrorists in Sibiu (only victims) in Zig-Zag…only to show up months later in Romania Mare and Europa months later writing the same stuff, and in the case of the Sibiu article republishing it verbatim. Nor was Bacescu alone among the former Securitate at Zig-Zag: she was for example joined by Gheorghe Ionescu Olbojan, the first to pen revisionist articles about the Army’s DIA unit.[29]

But without a broader comparative framework and approach to the Romanian media, all of this eluded the highly partisan Romanian émigré writers on the events. Nestor Ratesh alone among this group did seem puzzled and bothered by the similarity of Romania Libera Petre Mihai Bacanu’s conclusions on the V-th Directorate and those of Bacescu (he only alluded to her dubious reputation, however, and did not name her.) But Bacanu was fallible: memorably, but also upstandingly, in December 1993, he admitted based on what he claimed were new revelations, that his previous three and a half years of exonerating the USLA had been in vain since they were erroneous: they had after all played a significant role in the repression and killing of demonstrators on the night of 21-22 December 1989 in University Square. That alone should have precipitated a rethinking about assumptions and approaches to investigating the December 1989 events and particularly the role of the Securitate and the USLA, but it did not, and has not to this day…

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Romanians and Romanianists like to indulge in the reassuring myth that the “schools” of research on the Revolution were separate from the beginning—that the defining feature was the political orientation of the author and whether he or she viewed the events of December 1989 as a revolution or coup d’etat. To the extent they are willing to admit that discussions of the “terrorists” cross-pollinated and became intertwined across the borders of the political spectrum, they assume that this must have happened later, after views had become consolidated.[30] But such a view is simply ahistorical and wishful-thinking. It is simply impossible to defend honestly when you have Angela Bacescu who “showed up with lots of documents and didn’t need any money” and wrote her revisionist tracts in the oppositional Zig-Zag, when she and Olbojan were the first ones to voice theses that later became staples of the anti-Iliescu opposition—long after they had left its press.

It is indicative that Romanians still have yet to confront this methodological flaw that one of the few studies in the country to read Securitate and Army sources in addition to journalist and participant accounts, still failed to address the key similarities across the political spectrum regarding the existence and identity of the “terrorists.” Smaranda Vultur wrote in a review of Ruxandra Cesereanu’s (otherwise, groundbreaking in comparison to what had appeared before it in Romanian in book form) Decembrie ’89. Deconstructia unei revolutii (Iasi: Polirom 2004):

Beyond this, I would underscore however a deficit that results directly from the choice of the author to classify her sources based on how the source defines the events: as a revolution, a plot, or a hybrid of the two. Because of this one will thus find, contained in the same chapter, Securitate people and political analysts, revolutionaries and politicians of the old and new regimes, and journalists.[31]

In other words, my exact indictment of the approach inside and outside Romania to the study of the Revolution, and the reason why people are simply unable to acknowledge the similarity and even identicality of views of the “terrorists.”

After the aforementioned realizations in 1993-1994 about the need to be more comparative and systematic in investigating accounts of the Revolution, it took yet another two maddening years before I started to realize the significance of the ballistics evidence. It thus came comparatively late in the dissertation process. My timing was fortuitous, however. I wrote a short article in November 1996 that was published in two different forms in 22 and Sfera Politicii in December 1996—the mood in Romania was euphoric as seven years of the Iliescu regime had just come to an end through the ballot box. [32] True, it didn’t spark debate and loosen some lips as I had hoped, but it made my visit to Bucharest the following June —especially my interviews on one particular day with a journalist at Cotidianul and, several hours later, a member of the Gabrielescu Parliamentary Commission investigating the events (Adrian Popescu-Necsesti)—memorable to say the least….

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Of course, not then, or even since, has anybody who has investigated the December 1989 events inside or outside Romania systematically attempted to replicate, test, or expand upon my earlier findings—other than myself. As I have noted elsewhere,[33] in Peter Siani-Davies’ otherwise excellent The Romanian Revolution of December 1989 he devotes essentially a paragraph to the ballistics’ topic in a 300 plus page book—and it is only in the context of addressing my own earlier research. Monica Ciobanu could thus not be more wrong in her declaration that Peter Siani-Davies’ 2005 volume had disproven the “myth of Securitate terrorists.”[34] Siani-Davies has nothing to say about dum-dum/vidia/exploding ammunition: hence why he does not believe in Securitate terrorists!

Since then, I have written on Securitate revisionism, “the terrorists,” and the ballistics evidence of Romanian Revolution of December 1989, in the words of one critic who seems unable to call things by their name “voluminously, although never exhaustively, elsewhere”—publishing in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2006. [35] Now, more than a decade after those original ballistics’ articles, I return here putting things together I should preferably have put together long before…

The high stakes of what was at play in late December 1989 become all the clearer here. Nicolae Ceausescu’s successors faced not only the dilemma of having foreign citizens arrested for firing at and killing in cold blood Romanian citizens[36], but members of a Romanian state institution—the Securitate—in addition to those foreign citizens, had injured, maimed, and killed Romanian citizens using munitions that were outlawed by international conventions to which Romania was a party. Thus, beyond the culpability of an institution that was key to the ability of the nomenklaturists who had seized power to continue in power—i.e. the Securitate—and who undoubtedly had compromising information on those leaders, the new potentates were faced with a problem of international dimensions and proportions.

Dan Badea’s April 1991 article with which I opened this paper concluded thusly:

There are in these two declarations above[–those of Gheorghe Balasa and Radu Minea–] sufficient elements for an investigation by the Police or Prosecutor’s Office. [Dan Badea, “Gloante speciale sau ce s-a mai gasit in cladirea Directiei a V-a,” Expres, 16-22 April 1991]

That, of course, never appears to have happened. I hope that the information I have supplied above—significantly, much of it new, much of it from the Internet in recent years—should at the very least encourage Romanians and Romanianists to reopen and reexamine the ballistics evidence. Let us hope that on the twentieth anniversary of the Revolution, we may be able to read serious investigations of the ballistics evidence, rather than be subjected to the false and jaded refrain… such things did not exist!



[1] See, for example, Dorin Petrisor, “Procurorul Voinea, acuzat ca a lucrat prost dosarul Iliescu 13 iunie 1990,” Cotidianul, 7 December 2007, online edition. Voinea’s removal generally went unpublicized abroad—it was understandably not a proud day for his supporters. Kovesi claimed to have been taken aback by Voinea’s inexplicable, seemingly incompetent handling of the June 1990 files.

[2] General Dan Voinea, interview by Romulus Cristea, “Toti alergau dupa un inamic invizibil,” Romania Libera, 22 December 2005, online edition. Cristea’s apparent effort/belief—shared by many others—to suggest that it was only “the press of the time”—something I take to mean December 1989 and the immediate months after—that was filled with such claims and accusations is untrue. (The suggestion is to say that civilians with no knowledge of weapons and munitions repeated rumors spread out of fear and fueled by those who had seized power but needed to create an enemy to legitimize themselves and thus exploited those fears…) For examples of such claims “in the press of the time,” see the words of an employee of the Municipal Hospital (“In the room was a boy, very badly wounded by dum-dum bullets that had blown apart his diaphragm, his sacroiliac, and left an exit wound the size of a 5 lei coin,” Expres no. 10 (6-12 April 1990), p. 5) and the discussion of how Bogdan Stan died (“vidia bullets which explode when they hit their ‘target,’ entered into the bone marrow of his spine,” Adevarul, 13 January 1990). But such claims also appear long after the December 1989 events. Two and a half and three years after the December 1989 events, Army Colonel Ion Stoleru maintained in detail that the “terrorists” had “weapons with silencers, with scopes, for shooting at night time (in ‘infrared’), bullets with a ‘vidia’ tip [more on this and the relation to dum-dum munitions below]. Really modern weapons” and added, significantly, “The civilian and military commissions haven’t followed through in investigating this…” (see Army Colonel Ion Stoleru with Mihai Galatanu, “Din Celebra Galerie a Teroristilor,” Expres, no. 151 (22-28 December 1992), p. 4, and “Am vazut trei morti suspecti cu fata intoarsa spre caldarim,” Flacara, no. 29 (22 July 1992), p. 7.) Voinea’s steadfast denials would seem to validate Stoleru’s allegations more than a decade after he made them. Not surprisingly, but highly unfortunate, Cristea’s interview with Voinea forms the basis of conclusions about the terrorists on the Romanian-language Wikipedia webpage on the Revolution: see http://ro.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolu%C5%A3ia_rom%C3%A2n%C4%83_din_1989.

[3] Laura Toma, Toma Roman Jr. , and Roxana Ioana Ancuta, “Belis nu a vazut cadavrele Ceausestilor,” Jurnalul National, 25 October 2005, http://www.jurnalul.ro/articole/34668/belis-nu-a-vazut-cadavrele-ceausestilor. “Frumos (Nice)…” as the Romanians say. Belis may not have interested himself in the ballistics evidence—but some of his employees apparently did (see IML Dr. Florin Stanescu’s comments in Ion Costin Grigore, Cucuveaua cu Pene Rosii (Bucharest: Editura Miracol, 1994), pp. 70-72). Moreover, there were exhumations. (“For a long time the Brasov Military Prosecutor didn’t do anything, even though there existed cases, declarations, documents, photos and even atypical unusual bullets brought in by the families of the deceased and wounded.” http://www.portalulrevolutiei.ro/forum/index.php?topic=1.msg214) On 14 June 1990, General Nicolae Spiroiu, future Defense Minister (1991-1994), appears to have been in the city of Brasov, assisting at the exhumation of people killed there during the December 1989 Revolution. Such a step was a rarity, and apparently followed earlier talks between Spiroiu, five other officers, and the staff of the local newspaper Opinia, who were seeking clarification over who was responsible for the deaths of their fellow citizens. “They found in particular bullets of a 5.6 mm caliber that are not in the Army’s arsenal,” wrote the journalist Romulus Nicolae of the investigation. (Romulus Nicolae, “Au ars dosarele procuraturii despre evenimente din decembrie,” Cuvintul, no. 32 (August 1991), pp. 4-5, cited in Richard Andrew Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian: Prosecutor Voinea’s Campaign to Sanitize the Romanian Revolution of December 1989,” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html.)

[4] Dr. Nicolae Constantinescu, surgeon at Coltea Hospital: “I remember that on 1 or 2 January ’90 there appeared at the [Coltea] hospital a colonel from the Interior Ministry, who presented himself as Chircoias. He maintained in violent enough language that he was the chief of a department from the Directorate of State Security [ie. Securitate]. He asked that all of the extracted bullets be turned over to him. Thus were turned over to him 40 bullets of diverse forms and dimensions, as well as munition fragments. I didn’t hear anything back from Chircoias or any expert. Those who made the evidence disappear neglected the fact that there still exist x-rays and other military documents that I put at the disposition of the [Military] Prosecutor.”

( http://www.romanialibera.ro/a113826/revolutia-5-000-de-victime-nici-un-vinovat.html)

[5] Tom Gallagher, Modern Romania: The End of Communism, the Failure of Democratic Reform, and the Theft of a Nation, (NY: New York University Press, 2005), p. 190.

[6] Jeremy Bransten, “Romania: The Bloody Revolution in 1989: Chaos as the Ceausescus Are Executed,” RFE/RFL, 14 December 1999 at http://www.rferl.org/specials/communism/10years/romania2.asp. This unfortunate comment aside, Brantsen’s series is an excellent journalistic introduction to the December 1989 events.

[7] Iliesiu is dead wrong. See the signed testimony to the contrary by Ion Lungu and Dumitru Refenschi dated 26 December 1989, reproduced in Ioan Itu, “Mostenirea teroristilor,” Tinerama, no. 123 (9-15 April 1993), p. 7. I translated the important parts of this document in Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html. Significantly, according to this document, Dr. Belis had access to the dead terrorists:

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Dead Terrorists. Although their existence is vehemently denied by all official institutions, we are able to prove that they existed and have sufficient details to identify them.…We continue with some excerpts of the declaration of Ion Lungu, head of the group of fighters who guarded the ‘Institute of Legal Medicine’ [IML, the main Bucharest morgue], beginning from the evening of 22 December 1989:

“Starting from the 23rd, there were brought, in succession, more ‘special’ corpses. They were brought only by military vehicles and were accompanied by officers. They were all dressed the same: kaki uniforms, with or without military insignia, fur-lined boots, cotton underwear. All the clothes were new. The established procedure at that point was that when the bodies were unloaded from the trucks, at the ramp to the back of the IML, to be disrobed and inspected. The documents found were released to Prosecutor Vasiliu and criminology officers. The weapons and munitions we found and surrendered—on the basis of a verbal procedure—to the officer on duty from UM 01046. Weapons and ammunition were found only on those ‘special’ corpses. Those who brought them said that they were terrorists. I turned over to this military unit five pistols (three Stecikin and two Makarov—all 9 mm caliber), two commando daggers and hundreds of 9 mm and 7.62 mm cartridges (compatible with the AKM machine gun). They were held separately from the other corpses, in a room—I believe that it used to be the coatroom—with a guard at the door.…

Access to the room with the terrorists was strictly forbidden. Only Prosecutor Vasiliu, criminologist officers, Dr. Belis, and the chief of autopsies could enter. On top of them, next to the arms, there were personal documents, passports (some blank), all types of identity cards—one of them was clearly false, it stated that the dead terrorist was the director at Laromet (at that plant no director died)—identity cards that were brand new, different service stamps in white. All had been shot by rifles (one was severed in two) and showed evidence of gunshots of large caliber. Some had tattoos (they had vultures on their chests), were young (around 30 years old), and were solidly built. I believe that their identity was known, since otherwise I can’t explain why their photographs were attached to those of unidentified corpses. They were brought to us in a single truck. In all, there were around 30 dead terrorists. [The document is signed by Ion Lungu and Dumitru Refenschi on 26 December 1989]”

[8] Once again Iliesiu is wrong. Professor Andrei Firica at the Bucharest “Emergency Hospital” apparently also was paid a visit by Colonel Chircoias (aka Ghircoias), see fn. 4. He claims that he “made a small file of the medical situations of the 15-20 suspected terrorists from [i.e. interned at] the Emergency Hospital,” but as he adds “of course, all these files disappeared.” Firica reports that a Militia colonel, whom he later saw on TV in stripes as a defendant in the Timisoara trial [i.e. Ghircoias], came to the hospital and advised him “not to bring reporters to the beds of the terrorists, because these were just terrorist suspects and I didn’t want to wake up one day on trial for having defamed someone” (!) The colonel later came and loaded the wounded terrorist suspects into a bus and off they went. (Professor Andrei Firica, interview by Florin Condurateanu, “Teroristii din Spitalul de Urgenta,” Jurnalul National, 9 March 2004, online edition.) Cited in Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html.

[9] I don’t even know where to begin on this one. As I have written before, not all of those detained were terrorists, and many of the terrorists seemed to have eluded arrest, but there are so many accounts of people arrested as terrorists who legitimately fit that description that I don’t even know where to begin. See the multiple translations in Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html.

[10] Sorin Iliesiu, “18 ani de la masacrul care a deturnat revoluţia anticomunistă,” 21 December 2007, found at http://www.romanialibera.com/articole/articol.php?step=articol&id=6709 (note: this is NOT the Romania Libera daily newspaper). One will find many well-known names in the West among those who signed this petition: Dragoş Paul Aligică, Matei Călinescu, Ruxandra Cesereanu, Anneli Ute Gabanyi, Tom Gallagher, Gabriel Liiceanu, Norman Manea, Nicolae Manolescu, Mircea Mihaies, Ion Mihai Pacepa, Horia-Roman Patapievici, Radu Portocală, Nestor Ratesh, Lavinia Stan, Stelian Tănase, Alin Teodorescu, and Vladimir Tismăneanu. Sorin Iliesiu, who is a filmmaker and Vice President of the “Civic Alliance” organization, has written that he was part of the “team” that “edited” the seven page chapter on the Romanian Revolution contained in the Report of the Presidential Commission to Analyze the Communist Dictatorship of Romania (PCACDR). He is not a scholar and most certainly not a scholar of the December 1989 events. A textual comparison of the Report’s chapter on the Revolution and Vladimir Tismaneanu’s chapter in a Dawisha and Parrott edited volume from 1997 is unambiguous: the introductory two paragraphs of the Report’s chapter are taken verbatim in translation from p. 414 of Tismaneanu’s 1997 chapter, and other verbatim paragraphs, sentences, and phrases from pp. 414-417 make up parts of the rest of the Report’s Revolution chapter without any reference to the 1997 chapter. As the author(s) of an earlier chapter in the Report cite(s) Tismaneanu’s 1997 chapter (see p. 376 fn. 55) correctly, this leaves really only two possible explanations for the failure of Iliesiu et. al. to cite that they have borrowed wholesale from Tismaneanu’s 1997 chapter: a) an absence of scholarly knowledge, or b) an attempt to mask their dependence upon and deference to Tismaneanu, the Chair of the Commission, since the citations that do appear are the exact citations from the 1997 chapter and claims are translated word-by-word, so much so that Iliesiu et. al. did not even bother to change verb tenses despite the passage of a decade. Iliesiu et. al. can attempt to avoid answering questions and attempt to change the subject, but the textual analysis is unambiguous: Tismaneanu’s unattributed 1997 chapter forms the bulk of the Report’s chapter on the Revolution. The only question that needs to be answered is: why and why are they unwilling to admit the textual identicality?

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[11] All of this eludes Charles King in his Winter 2007 Slavic Review essay “Remembering Romanian Communism.” In his five page essay, he pauses no less than four times to mention the Revolution, despite the fact that its coverage takes up barely one percent of the PCACDR report. He relates the most banal of conclusions—“The report thus repeats the common view (at least among western academics) of the revolution as having been hijacked…”—yet misses or avoids what Iliesiu clearly seems most proud of: having inserted the claim that Nicolae Ceausescu was responsible for “only 162 deaths,” thereby insinuating Ceausescu’s successors bear responsibility for the other 942, and the claim to which such a reckoning is intimately related, namely Voinea’s that there were “no terrorists.” (It is interesting to note how Iliesiu et. al., the eternally suspicious of the state, miraculously become assiduous promoters of “official” and “state” claims once they turn out to be their own, thereby suggesting that their skepticism of the state is primarily situational rather than inherent—these are not equal opportunity skeptical and critical intellectuals.) King’s treatment of the Report is overall insufficiently informed, and as a consequence contextually-wanting and one-sided. He cites a handful of Romanian reviews of the Report, but they are almost uniformly positive accounts, almost as if supplied by the Chair of the Commission himself (see fn. 1, p. 718). He pauses to cite the former head of Radio Free Europe’s Romanian Research Division Michael Shafir’s 1985 book, yet makes no mention of Shafir’s trenchant criticisms (he gave the report a 7 out of 10 and mixed the positive with the negative) in a 1/12/07 interview in Ziua de Cluj, his extended critique “RAPORTUL TISMĂNEANU: NOTE DIN PUBLIC ŞI DIN CULISE” available in spring 2007 at http:// www.eleonardo.tk/ (no. 11), or his “Scrisoare (ultra)deschisa” in Observator Cultural no. 382 (25 July-1 August 2007) [given the timeline of scholarly publication, I am attempting to give King the benefit of the doubt here …He would certainly do well to read Shafir’s most recent discussion in Observator Cultural NR. 148 (406) 17 – 23 ianuarie 2008, “Despre clarificari nebuloase, plagiate, imposturi si careerism,” to see what a venerable critic and serious scholar was subjected to as a result of deigning to not wholeheartedly embrace the Report. Shafir’s treatment by the Report’s zealots has little to do with the liberal democratic view of the open society the Report’s authors ceaselessly profess.] Finally, had Charles King bothered to read Ciprian Siulea’s “Tentatia unui nou absolutism moral: Cu cine si de ce polemizeaza Vladimir Tismaneanu?” (Observator Cultural, nr. 379, 5-11 iulie 2007, once again conceivably within the publishing timeline) he might have refrained from parrotting the polarizing and unhelpful plebiscitary logic applied to the Report when he closed “The question is now whether the commission’s report will be used as yet another opportunity to reject history or as a way of helping Romanians learn, at last, how to own it” (p. 723). This, of course, suggests a certain infallible quality to the Report—which is far from the case—a conclusion only enhanced by King’s willingness to focus on the “hate speech” directed against the Report, but yet failing to cite and discuss any of the Romanian scholarly criticism of it.

[12] “Aghiotantii lui Ceausescu povestesc minut cu minut: O zi din viata dictatorului,” Romania Libera, 2 December 2005, online at http://www.romanialibera.ro/a5040/o-zi-din-viata-dictatorului.html. “Declaratie Subsemnatul TALPEANU ION, fiul lui Marin si Elena, nascut la 27 mai 1947 in comuna Baneasa, judetul Giurgiu, fost aghiotant prezidential cu grad de lt. col. in cadrul Directiei a V-a – Serviciul 1. Cu privire la armamentul din dotare arat ca, noi, aghiotantii aveam pistol “Makarov” cu 12 cartuse, iar sefii de grupa si ofiterii din grupa aveau pistolet “Makarov”, pistolet “Stecikin” si pistol-mitraliera AKM, cu munitie aferenta, care era cea obisnuita, in sensul ca nu aveam gloante dum-dum sau cu proprietati speciale, de provenienta straina.” (Dated 2 February 1990). His denial of dum-dum bullets is, of course, par for the course for former Securitate officers, who remember and thus “know nothing.”

[13] Quoted from http://www.tourismguide.ro/html/orase/Arad/Curtici/istoric_curtici.php. This raises an interesting point: there were foreign doctors who participated in Romania or in their home country in the surgery, treatment, and rehabilitation of those wounded. It would be interesting to hear what they remember and what they have to say regarding the munitions.

[15]Adina Anghelescu-Stancu refers to the “crippled and handicapped by dum-dum bullets” who do not number among Romania’s celebrities and about whom no one wishes to remember in today’s Romania, “Dureri care nu trec! (despre decembrie ‘89),” Gardianul, 18 December 2007, online at http://www.gardianul.ro/2007/12/18/editorial-c27/dureri_care_nu_trec_despre_decembrie_89_-s106259.html.

[16] I have examined the incident in detail several times, for the references to other works, see Richard Andrew Hall, “The Romanian Revolution as Geopolitical Parlor Game,” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/checkmate040405.pdf, and Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian,” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html.

[17] Once again, see “The Romanian Revolution as Geopolitical Parlor Game,” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/checkmate040405.pdf, and “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian,” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html. The critical articles were authored by Mihai Floca and Victor Stoica, who interviewed the Army cadre who had been involved in the incident and the residents of the surrounding apartment blocs who survived the fighting of those days.

[18] destituirea “Romanian Revolution USLA attack Dec 23 1989 Revolutia,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlBRSxUVQ5E

[19] For the photo see http://www.portalulrevolutiei.ro/documente/glont.htm; for one of his posts see http://www.portalulrevolutiei.ro/index.php?menu=6&pg=forum_thread.php&lnk=1&pagina=39. I cannot verify that this is indeed a “vidia” munition.

[20] Christian Levant, “Dacă tata nu-l salva pe Tokes, dacă nu salva biserici, tot se întâmpla ceva,” Adevarul, 30 September 2006, online at http://www.adevarul.ro/articole/dac-x103-tata-nu-l-salva-pe-tokes-dac-x103-nu-salva-biserici-tot-se-nt-mpla-ceva/200090.

[21] Cezar-Vladimir Rogoz, Povestirile teroristilor amintiri preluate si prelucrate de Cezar-Vladimir Rogoz, (Alma Print Galati 2007), p. 297, available online at http://www.bvau.ro/docs/e-books/2007/Rogoz,%20Cezar-Vladimir/povestirile_teroristilor.pdf.

[22]“A invatat sa zambeasca, [He learned how to smile],” http://marianmanescu.wordpress.com/2007/12/21/a-invatat-sa-zambeasca.

[25] Puspoki F., “Piramida Umbrelor (III),” Orizont (Timisoara), no. 11 (16 March 1990) p.4, and Roland Vasilevici, Piramida Umbrelor (Timisoara: Editura de Vest, 1991), p. 61.

[26] For the discussion of the former Securitate response to those who have violated the code of silence, see Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian,” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html.

[28] I refer here to, for example, the works of Vladimir Tismaneanu, Matei Calinescu, Andrei Codrescu, Anneli Ute Gabanyi, Radu Portocala, and Nestor Ratesh. Some, like Tismaneanu in a 1993 article in EEPS, “The Quasi-Revolution and its Discontents,” were more explicit about this rather rigid dichotomous approach to the Romanian media, but it also comes through clearly in the sourcing, citations, and footnotes/endnotes of the others. (It continues to haunt the historiography of post-communist Romania, as works such as Tom Gallagher’s aforementioned Modern Romania make clear). To say the least, the issue of ballistics evidence essentially goes unanalyzed in these accounts. Moreover, although as we have seen, these authors have no problem affixing their names to petitions and the like, none of them has published any research on the December 1989 events since the early 1990s. It should tell you something that they continue to rely on and repeat the accounts they wrote in 1990 and 1991…as if nothing had been discovered or written since. In that way, it is almost fitting that the Report of the PCADCR reproduced Tismaneanu’s 1997 Dawisha and Parrott chapter in some places verbatim, down to failing to even change verb tenses when it states that certain questions “remain to be clarified.” I deconstructed the methodological faults in source selection in these émigré accounts in “The Romanian Revolution as Geopolitical Parlor Game” at http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/checkmate040405.html.

[29] For earlier discussions of all of this, see Richard Andrew Hall, “The Uses of Absurdity: The Staged-War Theory of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989,” East European Politics and Societies, vol. 13, no. 3, and Richard Andrew Hall, “The Securitate Roots of a Modern Romanian Fairy Tale,” Radio Free Europe East European Perspectives, April-May 2002, three part series, available at http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/romania%20securitate%205-2002.html.

[30] In “The Romanian Revolution as Geopolitical Parlor Game,” I demonstrated how even the so-called French and German schools (really the schools of Romanian émigrés in those countries) in 1990 were not and could not be independent from accounts in Romania, and that the accounts fed into and reinforced one another. It is simply intellectual myth—and an all too convenient one—to argue the antisceptic separation of these accounts as independent.

[31] Smaranda Vultur, “Revolutia recitita,” 22 no. 787 (9-15 April 2005) online at http://www.revista22.ro.

[32] Richard Andrew Hall, trans. Adrian Bobeica, “Ce demonstreaza probele balistice dupa sapte ani?” 22, no. 51 (17-23 December 1996), p. 10, and Richard Andrew Hall, trans. Corina Ileana Pop, “Dupa 7 ani,” Sfera Politicii no. 44 (1996), pp. 61-63.

[33] See my discussion in “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian,” at http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html.

[34] Monica Ciobanu’s review of Siani-Davies The Romanian Revolution of December 1989 and Tom Gallagher’s Modern Romania: Theft of a Nation is entitled “The Myth Factory” (found at http://www.tol.cz).

[35] Charles King, “Remembering Romanian Communism,” Slavic Review, Winter 2007, p 719. In King’s short article, he does not hesitate to make occasionally gratuitous citations for things he did not need to cite. Yet in discussing December 1989 and using the term “elsewhere”—which usually prefaces a description of “where else” one might find these things—there are no citations. “Although never exhaustively” is itself a gratuitous choice of words and far from accidental: in my last work on December 1989, I made light of how ridiculous it was for Daniel Chirot to claim that Peter Siani-Davies’ The Romanian Revolution of December 1989, an otherwise excellent work, was “near definitive” when so much was missing from Siani-Davies’ discussion—notably, for our purposes here, the question of dum-dum/vidia/exploding munitions. One could indeed be left with the impression that King intends to deliver a put-down, that some fellow Romanianists will no doubt catch, but yet deny the broader audience references to what he alludes and simultaneously protect his image from having delivered such a “palma” as the Romanians would say. It would appear that at least for readers of this paper, his goals won’t go completely fulfilled.

[36] See my discussion in “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian,” at http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html.

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The Romanian Revolution for Dum-Dums by Richard Andrew Hall

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 25, 2008

THE ROMANIAN REVOLUTION FOR DUM-DUMS:

(like me…and perhaps even you)

by Richard Andrew Hall, Ph.D.

Standard Disclaimer: All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or any other U.S. Government agency. Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting or implying U.S. Government authentication of information or CIA endorsement of the author’s views. This material has been reviewed by CIA to prevent the disclosure of classified information.

I am an intelligence analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency. I have been a CIA analyst since 2000. Prior to that time, I had no association with CIA outside of the application process.

I have been researching the Revolution for the better part of the past 18 years. I first visited Romania in 1987 while backpacking through Europe, and I spent a total of about 20 months in the country during the years 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993-1994, and 1997, when I conducted pre-dissertation, dissertation, and post-dissertation research on the Revolution.

I have written on the topic of the Revolution, voluminously some might say, publishing in 1996, 1999, and 2000 before joining the Agency, and since I entered the Agency in 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2006.

It will and should be hard to believe for the outsider to this problem, but my work has been essentially the only systematic, ongoing investigation of the ballistics evidence—such are the shortcomings of small “communities of interest” investigating a peripheral historical topic and the perils of “group think.”

This article is, for lack of a better description, about “connecting the dots.”


–The story of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989 since December 1989 has been the struggle of disparate voices who share their memories, often with great frustration and a sense of resignation. They are hardly a unified chorus.

The accounts of ideologues seek to suggest to us that “the truth” miraculously is the province of people of this or that particular political persuasion in post-communist Romania. That is morality play and fairy tale; it is not the work of the serious historian. Would that history were so neat and tidy! It is not.

Instead, what one finds is that the people with the details that matter most are spread across the ideological and political spectrum—including people with what many of us might term distasteful, illiberal, ultranationalist, and nostalgic views.

There are those who relate these details in a narrative consistent with where those details lead.

There are those who relate these details even though it contradicts their narrative and ultimate conclusions about December 1989.

Finally, there are those—and there are many of them—who just know they experienced what they experienced. They aren’t sure exactly how it fits in with a larger narrative: they merely want to tell their story.

Together, they relate these details in the face of cynicism, indifference, and an often stunning intellectual conceit and deaf ear.

Theirs, however, and not the ideologues’, is the story of December 1989.


There was a lot of talk during the crimes of December ’89 about the special bullets with which the young and old alike were killed, bullets which—it is said were not in the arsenal of our military units. There was so much talk that there was no more to say and after there was no more to say for a sufficient amount of time the discussion was reopened with the line “such things don’t exist!” The special bullets didn’t exist!—our highest authorities hurried to tell us…In order to search for proof a little work is necessary by our legal organs that they are not terribly inclined to take….

[Dan Badea, “Gloante speciale sau ce s-a mai gasit in cladirea Directiei a V-a,” Expres, 16-22 April 1991]

The Internet allows the researcher to piece together history as never before. That’s a pretty bland statement, but the reality of it never ceases to amaze me. Take the case of those killed in the Romanian Revolution of December 1989 (officially 1,104 people perished in those events). Scroll through the list of those killed on the procesulcomunismului (“the trial of communism”) and portalulrevolutiei (“the portal to the revolution”) websites. For most, there is only limited information about the circumstances in which they died. For others, however, there is greater detail. As one scrolls through the names and photos, one of the similarities that begins to become apparent is that in cases where there is more information about the circumstances of the death, dum-dum bullets are mentioned. Thus, for example, we find the following five cases:

BUTIRI Florin, born in Joia Mare, 11 April 1969, he was living in Bucharest and was employed by the Bucharest Metro. He played rugby. On 22 December he participated in the demonstration at Sala Dalles [next to University Square]. On 23 December he went to defend the Radio Broadcast center on str. Nuferilor, and while he was saving some old people from a burning building he was shot. Brought to the Military Hospital because of a wound to his hip, caused by a dum-dum cartridge, they tried to ampute a leg. His stomach was also ravaged by a bullet. On 26 December 1989 he died. (http://www.procesulcomunismului.com/marturii/fonduri/ioanitoiu/aeroi/docs/album_2.htm)

FILOTI Claudiu
Profession: Lieutenant major UM 01171 Buzau, post-mortem Captain
Born: 30 July 1964
Birthplace: Vaslui
Date of death: 22 December 1989
Place of death: Bucharest, in the area of the Defense Ministry
Cause of death: Shot in the chest with dum-dum bullets (http://www.portalulrevolutiei.ro/index.php?menu=1&jud=53)

LUPEA Ion- Gabriel from Hunedoara, born in 1970…In 1989 he was sent from Bucharest to Anina [Resita], then to UM 01929. On 9 December 1989, he went on leave, but he was recalled. On the evening of 23 December he was on duty defending the unit [Anina-Resita], at the checkpoint, when around 11 pm they were attacked from the front and from the left flank. While crawling on hands and knees to bring more ammunition he was hit by a dum-dum bullet that entered above his left leg and exited through his left hand. Brought to the hospital he died Christmas Eve, making him the unit’s first hero; he was posthumously awarded the rank of sub-lieutenant. (http://www.procesulcomunismului.com/marturii/fonduri/ioanitoiu/aeroi/docs/album_5.htm)

MANESCU Dan, born 25 March 1964, a student in the Transportation Department, he joined with the other young people on 21 December and participated in the demonstrations in the center of the town [Bucharest]. Friday morning he went with his brother to the demonstrations and he returned after the flight of the dictator. He changed his clothes and returned for good, when on the night of 22/23 December a dum-dum bullet punctured his stomach in Palace Square. Brought to the Emergency hospital, he could not be saved. (http://www.procesulcomunismului.com/marturii/fonduri/ioanitoiu/aeroi/docs/album_5.htm)

POPTEAN Petre, born 27 December 1965, in Margau near Huedin, living in Bucharest…he worked as a driver for the Bucharest Transportation Department. On 21 December he went into town to protect his sister on her way home from work. The two of them left on Calea Victoriei and arrived at [Sala] Dalles, where in horror they watched…Petre called to his sister to aid the wounded. While on the ground, he was hit in the abdomen and left hip by dum-dum cartridges that caused him major wounds. His sister, Monica, was able to stop an ambulance with a Targoviste license number, but he didn’t make it to Hospital 9. At around 6 pm Petre passed away. (http://www.procesulcomunismului.com/marturii/fonduri/ioanitoiu/aeroi/docs/album_7.htm)

Let me draw the attention of the reader to two important details here. First, the use of dum-dum munitions was not confined to Bucharest (multiple locations), but includes the southwestern city of Resita (the case of Ion Lupea). Second, the use of dum-dum munitions occurred not just after communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu fled at midday on 22 December 1989, but also before, on the evening of 21 December (the case of Petre Poptean).

Dum-dum bullets—which fragment and cause substantially more and more lethal damage to the organs of those who are hit—are outlawed by international convention (see more below). Moreover—or perhaps better-put, officially—no Romanian institution had them in their arsenal in December 1989. Yet, as we can see, almost two decades after the events, the obituaries of those gunned down in December 1989 include references to those munitions as having played a role not only in the wounding of people, but also in their deaths.

Despite the claims above attesting to not just the wounding, but the death of several people (civilians and soldiers) over several days in several locations from dum-dum bullets in December 1989, what did General Dan Voinea—removed from his post in December 2007 by Attorney General Laura Codruta Kovesi for violating basic judicial norms in another case[1]—who headed the investigations into December 1989 for well over a decade, have to say about them in late 2005? “Such things didn’t exist!”:

Romulus Cristea: “Did special ammunition, bullets with a vidia tip or dum-dum bullets, claim [any] victims? The press of the time was filled with such claims…”

Dan Voinea: There were no victims (people who were shot) from either vidia bullets or dum-dum bullets. During the entire period of the events war munitions were used, normal munitions that were found at the time in the arsenal of the Interior Ministry and the Defense Ministry. The confusion and false information were the product of the fact that different caliber weapons were used, and therefore, the resulting sound was perceived differently.[2] (Emphasis added)

So, there is no wiggle room here, no room for misinterpretation: according to Prosecutor Voinea , nobody was killed by dum-dum bullets in December 1989.

That’s a common claim among officials of the former communist regime—Voinea was a military prosecutor since 1982 and he was directly involved in the trial of the Ceausescus. Such conclusions were also repeated in late 2005 by Dr. Vladimir Belis, who was the head of the Medical Forensics Institute (IML) in Bucharest in December 1989: asked if other than the standard 7.62 mm caliber weapons belonging to the Army were used, he did not know and couldn’t say because he claimed no autopsies were ever performed.[3] The apparent official disinterest in munitions and autopsies is—ahem—shall we say “interesting” given the comments attributed to Belis’ subordinates and to doctors at Bucharest’s main hospitals—comments made in the early 1990s, but also made well over a decade later, in the mid 2000s.[4]

General Dan Voinea spoke in late 2005. Voinea’s argument that there were no dum-dum bullets, that there were no atypical munitions used, is directly linked to his contention that there were therefore “no terrorists” in December 1989. It has been routinely repeated in various forms by the media for well over a decade and by his supporters in intellectual circles at home and abroad. The encomia for General Voinea before and since that December 2005 interview by noted Romanian intellectuals and Romanianists are breathtaking. Tom Gallagher refers to him as the “indefatigable General Voinea”[5] and Western journalists have described him as “a one-man mission to uncover the truth about exactly what happened during those days.”[6] Sorin Iliesiu justifies his claims about the Revolution squarely on Voinea’s words:

General Dan Voinea has said clearly: The terrorists did not exist. Those who seized power lied to protect the real criminals….The diversion of the ‘terrorists’ has been demonstrated by [the] Justice [System], not a single terrorist being found among the dead[7], wounded[8] or arrested[9].”[10][11]

Highly problematic and damning for General Dan Voinea, Dr. Vladimir Belis, and fellow deniers are the following, detailed written testimonies of Gheorghe Balasa and Radu Minea presented by Dan Badea in April 1991, attesting to what they had found in December 1989 in the headquarters of the Securitate’s Fifth Directorate:

Balasa Gheorghe: From [Securitate] Directorate V-a, from the weapons depot, on 23-24 December 1989, DUM-DUM cartridges, special cartridges that did not fit any arm in the arsenal of the Defense Ministry were retrieved. Three or four boxes with these kinds of cartridges were found. The special bullets were 5-6 cm. in length and less thick than a pencil. Such a cartridge had a white stone tip that was transparent. All of these cartridges I personally presented to be filmed by Mr. Spiru Zeres. All the special cartridges, other than the DUM-DUM [ones] were of West German [FRG] make. From Directorate V-a we brought these to the former CC building, and on 23-24 December ’89 they were surrendered to U.M. 01305. Captain Dr. Panait, who told us that he had never seen such ammunition before, Major Puiu and Captain Visinescu know about [what was turned over].

In the former CC of the PCR, all of those shot on the night of 23-24 December ’89 were shot with special bullets. It is absurd to search for the bullet in a corpse that can penetrate a wall…

[of course, V-a worked hand-in-hand with the USLA, or the Securitate’s “special unit for anti-terrorist warfare,” and thus it was not suprising that in Directorate V-a’s headquarters…] Among things we also found were:…the training manual for the USLA. It was about 25 cm thick, and while there, I leafed through about half of it…[and I also came across] a file in which lots of different people under the surveillance of USLA officers were listed…

(Interviewed by Dan Badea, “Gloante speciale sau ce s-a mai gasit in cladirea Directiei a V-a,” Expres, 16-22 April 1991.)

Moreover, we know from the 2005 publication of the testimony of a detained V-th Directorate officer dated 2 February 1990, that he must have been asked to comment specifically on the existence of dum-dum ammunition—since he makes a point of emphasizing that “we didn’t have dum-dum ammunition or weapons with special properties, of foreign origin.”[12] So, in other words, we know from this interrogation document that six weeks after the Revolution, those who had taken power or at least the military prosecutors of the time were still interested in the existence of these munitions—thereby suggesting that they must have had some reason for believing in their existence, say for example the character of the injuries suffered by those shot during the events, as well as perhaps recovered bullet fragments, the testimonies of the doctors who operated on those wounded, etc…

Voinea’s ceaseless interviews and revelations during this period have been reprinted repeatedly since they took place and his conclusions been given wide circulation by journalists and people such as Sorin Iliesiu. Yet those who just relate what happened in December 1989 continue to mention the existence of dum-dum munitions. Thus, if one turns to the tourism site for the western border town of Curtici (near Arad) one can read the following about the history of the city, including the events of December 1989:

The following night [at the train station], the first team of five doctors from the Austrian “Lorenz Bohler” Hospital , who arrived in Curtici with a “hospital-wagon” took 18 people in critical condition to Austria for special treatment that lasted two to three months. That is, they needed organ transplants or special care, because of the monstrous results of dum-dum bullets.[13]

Or take the case of a poster on the 18th anniversary of the Revolution, who begins:

The Romarta (central Bucharest) file? What about the file on those who fired at me at the Astronomical Observatory on Ana Ipatescu Boulevard or those who at 1700 on 24 December fired near Casa Scanteii [press building] where I found a dum-dum cartridge in my bed—us having had to sleep in the bathroom.[14]

Finally, there are the cynical comments of those—no matter what they believe about December 1989—who cannot help but remember the dum-dum munitions and the horrible pain and trauma they caused their victims, many still living with the consequences of those wounds today…and how nobody wishes to remember them; for them, this is essentially a cruel, open secret.[15]

Unfortunately, no one in Romania has tied together such claims and the evidence I present above. I do not know how many of these people are still alive, but if the Romanian media were interested, the names are there for them to contact in order to confirm the claims above: Gheorghe Balasa, Radu Minea, Spiru Zeres, Major Puiu, and Captain Visinescu.

D’oh…Dum-Dum…(Tweedle) Dumb and (Tweedle) Dumber: Dum-Dum=Vidia

When I first viewed the youtube video “Romanian Revolution USLA attack Dec 23 1989 Revolutia” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlBRSxUVQ5E ), what struck me was: here, finally, after a decade and a half of almost unopposed revisionist denial, here was someone who claims to have been an eyewitness and has photos and details of the incident, and who maintains the now almost heretical idea that the Securitate’s “Special Unit for Anti-terrorist Warfare”(USLA for short) had indeed attempted to attack the heavily-guarded Defense Ministry Headquarters on Drumul Taberei in Bucharest on the night of 23-24 December 1989! But, in fact as we shall see, although important, that is actually not the most important thing about the one and only youtube video posted by “destituirea.”

For me the transcript of the USLA unit claiming to have witnessed army units attacking their own ministry and thus the supposed reason that the USLA men who witnessed it “had to be silenced by being killed”—a transcript leaked to the press in 1993 and which led scholars such as Denis Deletant and Peter Siani-Davies to consider this “case closed” essentially—was always highly problematic. It supplied what was said, but, if we are to believe the words of the USLA Commander Gheorghe Ardeleanu, speaking to the notorious Securitate cheerleader Angela Bacescu, it did not supply the much needed context: Ardeleanu claimed that he had been placed under arrest and that it was he who chose the names of the USLA officers who were to report to the Defense Ministry. The USLA units thus came in a situation in which those who had taken control of the country were in the Defense Ministry holding their commander under arrest.[16]

But more importantly, the transcript could not explain a) the lack of any corroboration since of these supposed Army units attacking the Defense Ministry on the night of 23-24 December 1989—truly hard to believe, given all the young recruits and given their comparative willingness to talk to the media after all these years, in comparison to the former Securitate, and b) the claims in summer 1990 by the Army cadre who had been involved in the firefight with the USLA and the interviews of civilians in the surrounding blocs of flats who had lived through the fighting in December 1989 and related what they had seen.[17] The interviewees had detailed the suspicious actions of the USLA convoy and made it clear that they came with less-than-friendly intentions.

Now, here, 17 years after those famous articles by Mihai Floca and Victor Stoica is a video supporting the claim that the USLA units attempted to force their way into the Defense Ministry. The photos of the inside of the USLA ABI vehicles and of the dead USLA men (wearing black jumpsuits underneath Army clothing) are perhaps the most extensive and detailed seen to date, and the anonymous poster plays coy as to where he got them from (he claims he does not want to reveal the source—something which, given the sensitivity of the issue, I am not surprised by).

But, as I mentioned previously, it is actually not the confirmation of this understanding of the Defense Ministry incident that is the most significant thing about this youtube video. It is at the 2:01-2:05 of 8:50 mark of this silent video that the poster makes the following interesting and critical insight/claim…

USLA’s bullets were called “vidia” or “dum-dum” were usually smaller than the regular army’s bullets…Most of the capital’s residents have found this type of bullets all around the military buildings near by. (at 2:01 of 8:50)[18]

And thus, it becomes clear that the discussion of “vidia” bullets and “dum-dum” bullets is interchangeable (or at least is treated as such)! (Hence, perhaps why Romulus Cristea asked his question of General Voinea as he did in December 2005: “Did special ammunition, bullets with a vidia tip or dum-dum bullets, claim [any] victims? The press of the time was filled with such claims…”) “Vidia” translates as “grooved,” and thus describes the modified feature of the bullets which makes them so lethal, thereby making the treatment of vidia and dumdum as de facto synonyms understandable.

This is critical because as I have previously written in detail, citing interviews and reminiscences in the Romanian press…vidia bullets showed up across the country in December 1989. In “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian: Prosecutor Voinea’s Campaign to Sanitize the Romanian Revolution of December 1989” (http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html) I detail examples of vidia bullets showing up across the country—Brasov, Sibiu, Bucharest (multiple locations), Braila, Caransebes, Craiova, and Hunedoara—as recounted by civilians and Army personnel, at various times since the events—not just during or right after. Such wide dispersion of the use of officially non-existent munitions is critical too because it infirms the notion that somehow demonstrators or the Army put their hands on such “free floating weapons” and used them during the December 1989 events—that it would have happened in one or two places could be explained, but that the same thing would happen in so many geographic centers is scarcely plausible.

Recall from our earlier extract from Prosecutor Dan Voinea’s December 2005 interview, his unambiguous denial of the use of vidia munitions. Nevertheless, significantly, since that interview we continue to find people who remember what they remember and they remember the use of vidia munitions. I have found yet more references. Alexandru Stepanian, who writes under the motto “Dreptate si Onoare! (Justice and Honor!),” not only claims to still have a vidia bullet from 22-23 December 1989 in the area around the TV Station in Bucharest, but he has placed a photo of it on the portalulrevolutiei website.[19] In fall 2006, the daughter of a priest recalled:

In December ’89, after he arrived from Timisoara, my father stayed with me on Stefan Cel Mare Boulevard. When we returned to our home, on the corner of Admiral Balescu and Rosenthal. I found the cupboard of the dresser pure and simple riddled with bullets, about 8 to 10 of them. Someone who knew about such things told me they were vidia bullets. They were brought to a commission, but I don’t know what happened to them.[20]

In 2007 a book entitled The Tales of the Terrorists was published in Galati. In one section, a Eugen Stoleriu recounts his dispatch to Bucharest as a military recruit during the events and how for the first time in his life he came across vidia bullets that were shot at him.[21]

Another apparent synonym for “vidia” is “crestata” or “notched.” I take it that the reference is to the same type of munitions because the damage caused to those wounded by them was equally catastrophic. In December 2007, Alexandru Tudor, a soccer official famous apparently for his stern, unsmiling demeanor, who was shot on 23 December 1989 around 10 am in the area of Piata Aviatorilor near the TV studio, recounted the episode that ended his career:

They brought me to Colentina Hospital and there I had the great fortune of two great doctors. If they had operated on me, they would have to amputate both my legs beneath the knee, but instead they left the bullets in there 12 days. Their explanation was that the bullets were too close to arteries, and since they were gloante crestate (notched bullets), it was very dangerous. After they were removed, I kept the bullets, I have them at home. I was on crutches for six months, I went through therapy, but I had to give up soccer.[22]

Also on the 18th anniversary of the Revolution, a frustrated poster to another site asked pointedly:

Who in Romania in 1989 had 5.5 mm caliber NATO-type munition, that in addition was “notched”—something outlawed by the Geneva Convention, while it is known that the Romanian Army had only the caliber used by Warsaw Pact nations for their weapons, that is to say 7,62 mm….At that time even the Olympic speed shooting champion, Sorin Babii, expressed his surprise….I had in my hand several samples of this cartridge: small, black, with a spiral on the top, or with 4 cuts (those who know a little bit about ballistics and medical forensics can attest to the devastating role caused by these modifications). I await a response to my questions…perhaps someone will be willing to break the silence. I thank you in advance. [emphases added][23]

In other words, the existence of crestate/vidia/dum-dum bullets is known, and not everyone has so blithely forgotten their existence.

A Dum-Dum by Any Other Name: Gloante explosive (exploding bullets), gloante speciale (special bullets)

Crestate, vidia, dum-dum…by now we know: these are very dangerous munitions…

In the field of firearms, an expanding bullet is a bullet designed to expand on impact. Such bullets are often known as Dum-dum or dumdum bullets. There are several types of dum-dum designs. Two popular designs are the hollow point (made during the manufacturing phase) and X-ing made usually by the user by making two notches perpendicular to each other on the tip of the bullet, commonly with a knife. The effect is that the bullet deforms and sometimes fragments upon impact due to the indentations. This creates a larger wound channel or channels with greater blood loss and trauma.

The hollow-point bullet, and the soft-nosed bullet, are sometimes also referred to as the dum-dum, so named after the British arsenal at Dum-Dum, near Calcutta, India, where it is said that jacketed, expanding bullets were first developed. This term is rare among shooters, but can still be found in use, usually in the news media and sensational popular fiction. Recreational shooters sometimes refer to hollow points as “JHPs”, from the common manufacturer’s abbreviation for “Jacketed Hollow Point”.

To be most correct, the term “Dum Dum Bullet” refers only to soft point bullets, not to hollow points, though it is very common for it to be mistakenly used this way.

The Hague Convention of 1899, Declaration III, prohibits the use in warfare of bullets which easily expand or flatten in the body, and was an expansion of the Declaration of St Petersburg in 1868, which banned exploding projectiles of less than 400 grams. These treaties limited the use of “explosive” bullets in military use, defining illegal rounds as a jacketed bullet with an exposed lead tip (and, by implication, a jacketed base).[24]

Thus, under the synonym for dumdum/vidia/crestate bullets of “exploding bullets,” we find the following on the Internet:

On the evening of 27 December 1989, Eugen Maresi, 20 years old, a military draftee, was sent to organize a checkpoint on soseaua Chitilei, at the entrance to Bucharest….A group of 25 soldiers came under fire from the belltower of a church. Eugen was the first shot…. “The doctors told me my only child was shot with (gloante explosive) exploding bullets. The fragments shattered all of his internal organs,” says Dumitru Maresi, the father of the [Drobeta Turnu] Severin hero. http://2003.informatia.ro/Article42788.phtml

and

Gheorghe Nicolosu, was shot in the leg…After he was operated on, it was established that the bullet with which he was shot did not figure in [the arsenal of] the Romanian Army. Nicolosu was operated on in Hunedoara, then arrived in Italy, where he underwent another surgery…In the same area, on Lipscani, Cristea Valeria, 36 years old, was shot in the stomach by ammunition that did not belong to the army. He died a few hours later, the doctors trying to save his life, but the glontul exploziv (exploding bullet) perforated his intestines. Another youngster, 18 year old Ion Gherasim was shot in the back at the entrance to UM 01933 by munition that did not belong to the army. (Emphases added) http://www.replicahd.ro/images/replica216/special2.htm

Once again, we are speaking here of far-flung locations across the country—Chitila (Bucharest) and Hunedoara—which makes the idea of accident and “free floating weapons” unlikely.

Ammunition…Consistent with the Confessions of Former Securitate Whistleblowers

And so, who was it, who has told us about “exploding bullets” and “special cartridges” like this, and who has it been said possessed them in December 1989?

For years I have been essentially the sole researcher inside or outside the country familiar with and promoting the claims of 1) former Timisoara Securitate Directorate I officer Roland Vasilevici—who published his claims about December 1989 under the byline of Puspoki F. in the Timisoara political-cultural weekly Orizont in March 1990 and under the pseudonym “Romeo Vasiliu”—and 2) an anonymous USLA recruit who told his story to AM Press Dolj (published on the five year anniversary of the events in Romania Libera 28 December 1994…ironically (?) next to a story about how a former Securitate official attempted to interrupt a private television broadcast in which Roland Vasilevici was being interviewed in Timisoara about Libyan involvement in December 1989).

Vasilevici claimed in those March 1990 articles and in a 140 page book that followed—both the series and the book titled Pyramid of Shadows—that the USLA and Arab commandos were the “terrorists” of December 1989. What is particularly noteworthy in light of the above discussion about “exploding bullets” was his claim that the USLA and the foreign students who supplemented them “used special cartridges which upon hitting their targets caused new explosions.”[25]

The anonymous USLA recruit stated separately, but similarly:

I was in Timisoara and Bucharest in December ’89. In addition to us [USLA] draftees, recalled professionals, who wore black camouflage outfits, were dispatched. Antiterrorist troop units and these professionals received live ammunition. In Timisoara demonstrators were shot at short distances. I saw how the skulls of those who were shot would explode. I believe the masked ones, using their own special weapons, shot with exploding bullets. In January 1990, all the draftees from the USLA troops were put in detox. We had been drugged. We were discharged five months before our service was due to expire in order to lose any trace of us. Don’t publish my name. I fear for me and my parents. When we trained and practiced we were separated into ‘friends’ and ‘enemies.’ The masked ones were the ‘enemies’ who we had to find and neutralize. I believe the masked ones were the ‘terrorists’. [emphases added]

As I have pointed out, despite the short shrift given these two revelations by Romanian media and Romanianists, one group has paid close attention: the former Securitate. That is not accidental. [26]

With the advent of the Internet, unverifiable bulletin board postings also pop up. On 23 December 2003, under the name of “kodiak,” the following appeared:

In ’89 I was a major in the USLA…and I know enough things that it would be better I didn’t know…15, 16, 20, 30 years will pass and nothing will be known beyond what you need and have permission to know…” (http://www.cafeneaua.com)[27]

Clearly, the legal constraints of security oaths and fear continue to cast a long shadow, long after the events of December 1989.

Si totusi…se stie [And nevertheless…it is known]

It took over three years into my research on the Revolution—and physically being in the Library of the Romanian Academy—before I came to the realization: oh yeah, that’s a good idea, yeah, I should systematically compare what the former Securitate have to say about December 1989 and compare it with what others are saying. It took a maddening additional half year before I came to the conclusion: oh yeah, and how about what the Army has to say? It may seem ridiculous—and it is in some ways indefensible from the perspective of performing historical research—but you have to understand how Romanian émigrés dominated early investigations of the Revolution, and how they divided the post-communist Romania media into the pro-regime (untrustworthy) press and the opposition (trustworthy) press, and the influence this “research frame” and methodology had at the time upon younger researchers such as myself.[28]

A more systematic mind probably would have come to these revelations long before I did. Instead, it took the accidental, simultaneous ordering of issues from 1990 and 1991 of the vigorous anti-Iliescu regime university publication NU (Cluj), the similarly oppositional Zig-Zag (Bucharest), and the former Securitate mouthpiece Europa to discover this. There I found Radu Nicolae making his way among diametrically opposed publications, saying the same things about December 1989. And it mattered: the source for example of Radu Portocala’s claim that there were “no terrorists” in December 1989 was Radu Nicolae. But more important still, was the discovery of Angela Bacescu revising the Defense Ministry incident, exonerating the USLA, and claiming there were no Securitate terrorists in Sibiu (only victims) in Zig-Zag…only to show up months later in Romania Mare and Europa months later writing the same stuff, and in the case of the Sibiu article republishing it verbatim. Nor was Bacescu alone among the former Securitate at Zig-Zag: she was for example joined by Gheorghe Ionescu Olbojan, the first to pen revisionist articles about the Army’s DIA unit.[29]

But without a broader comparative framework and approach to the Romanian media, all of this eluded the highly partisan Romanian émigré writers on the events. Nestor Ratesh alone among this group did seem puzzled and bothered by the similarity of Romania Libera Petre Mihai Bacanu’s conclusions on the V-th Directorate and those of Bacescu (he only alluded to her dubious reputation, however, and did not name her.) But Bacanu was fallible: memorably, but also upstandingly, in December 1993, he admitted based on what he claimed were new revelations, that his previous three and a half years of exonerating the USLA had been in vain since they were erroneous: they had after all played a significant role in the repression and killing of demonstrators on the night of 21-22 December 1989 in University Square. That alone should have precipitated a rethinking about assumptions and approaches to investigating the December 1989 events and particularly the role of the Securitate and the USLA, but it did not, and has not to this day…

Romanians and Romanianists like to indulge in the reassuring myth that the “schools” of research on the Revolution were separate from the beginning—that the defining feature was the political orientation of the author and whether he or she viewed the events of December 1989 as a revolution or coup d’etat. To the extent they are willing to admit that discussions of the “terrorists” cross-pollinated and became intertwined across the borders of the political spectrum, they assume that this must have happened later, after views had become consolidated.[30] But such a view is simply ahistorical and wishful-thinking. It is simply impossible to defend honestly when you have Angela Bacescu who “showed up with lots of documents and didn’t need any money” and wrote her revisionist tracts in the oppositional Zig-Zag, when she and Olbojan were the first ones to voice theses that later became staples of the anti-Iliescu opposition—long after they had left its press.

It is indicative that Romanians still have yet to confront this methodological flaw that one of the few studies in the country to read Securitate and Army sources in addition to journalist and participant accounts, still failed to address the key similarities across the political spectrum regarding the existence and identity of the “terrorists.” Smaranda Vultur wrote in a review of Ruxandra Cesereanu’s (otherwise, groundbreaking in comparison to what had appeared before it in Romanian in book form) Decembrie ’89. Deconstructia unei revolutii (Iasi: Polirom 2004):

Beyond this, I would underscore however a deficit that results directly from the choice of the author to classify her sources based on how the source defines the events: as a revolution, a plot, or a hybrid of the two. Because of this one will thus find, contained in the same chapter, Securitate people and political analysts, revolutionaries and politicians of the old and new regimes, and journalists.[31]

In other words, my exact indictment of the approach inside and outside Romania to the study of the Revolution, and the reason why people are simply unable to acknowledge the similarity and even identicality of views of the “terrorists.”

After the aforementioned realizations in 1993-1994 about the need to be more comparative and systematic in investigating accounts of the Revolution, it took yet another two maddening years before I started to realize the significance of the ballistics evidence. It thus came comparatively late in the dissertation process. My timing was fortuitous, however. I wrote a short article in November 1996 that was published in two different forms in 22 and Sfera Politicii in December 1996—the mood in Romania was euphoric as seven years of the Iliescu regime had just come to an end through the ballot box. [32] True, it didn’t spark debate and loosen some lips as I had hoped, but it made my visit to Bucharest the following June —especially my interviews on one particular day with a journalist at Cotidianul and, several hours later, a member of the Gabrielescu Parliamentary Commission investigating the events (Adrian Popescu-Necsesti)—memorable to say the least….

Of course, not then, or even since, has anybody who has investigated the December 1989 events inside or outside Romania systematically attempted to replicate, test, or expand upon my earlier findings—other than myself. As I have noted elsewhere,[33] in Peter Siani-Davies’ otherwise excellent The Romanian Revolution of December 1989 he devotes essentially a paragraph to the ballistics’ topic in a 300 plus page book—and it is only in the context of addressing my own earlier research. Monica Ciobanu could thus not be more wrong in her declaration that Peter Siani-Davies’ 2005 volume had disproven the “myth of Securitate terrorists.”[34] Siani-Davies has nothing to say about dum-dum/vidia/exploding ammunition: hence why he does not believe in Securitate terrorists!

Since then, I have written on Securitate revisionism, “the terrorists,” and the ballistics evidence of Romanian Revolution of December 1989, in the words of one critic who seems unable to call things by their name “voluminously, although never exhaustively, elsewhere”—publishing in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2006. [35] Now, more than a decade after those original ballistics’ articles, I return here putting things together I should preferably have put together long before…

The high stakes of what was at play in late December 1989 become all the clearer here. Nicolae Ceausescu’s successors faced not only the dilemma of having foreign citizens arrested for firing at and killing in cold blood Romanian citizens[36], but members of a Romanian state institution—the Securitate—in addition to those foreign citizens, had injured, maimed, and killed Romanian citizens using munitions that were outlawed by international conventions to which Romania was a party. Thus, beyond the culpability of an institution that was key to the ability of the nomenklaturists who had seized power to continue in power—i.e. the Securitate—and who undoubtedly had compromising information on those leaders, the new potentates were faced with a problem of international dimensions and proportions.

Dan Badea’s April 1991 article with which I opened this paper concluded thusly:

There are in these two declarations above[–those of Gheorghe Balasa and Radu Minea–] sufficient elements for an investigation by the Police or Prosecutor’s Office. [Dan Badea, “Gloante speciale sau ce s-a mai gasit in cladirea Directiei a V-a,” Expres, 16-22 April 1991]

That, of course, never appears to have happened. I hope that the information I have supplied above—significantly, much of it new, much of it from the Internet in recent years—should at the very least encourage Romanians and Romanianists to reopen and reexamine the ballistics evidence. Let us hope that on the twentieth anniversary of the Revolution, we may be able to read serious investigations of the ballistics evidence, rather than be subjected to the false and jaded refrain… such things did not exist!



[1] See, for example, Dorin Petrisor, “Procurorul Voinea, acuzat ca a lucrat prost dosarul Iliescu 13 iunie 1990,” Cotidianul, 7 December 2007, online edition. Voinea’s removal generally went unpublicized abroad—it was understandably not a proud day for his supporters. Kovesi claimed to have been taken aback by Voinea’s inexplicable, seemingly incompetent handling of the June 1990 files.

[2] General Dan Voinea, interview by Romulus Cristea, “Toti alergau dupa un inamic invizibil,” Romania Libera, 22 December 2005, online edition. Cristea’s apparent effort/belief—shared by many others—to suggest that it was only “the press of the time”—something I take to mean December 1989 and the immediate months after—that was filled with such claims and accusations is untrue. (The suggestion is to say that civilians with no knowledge of weapons and munitions repeated rumors spread out of fear and fueled by those who had seized power but needed to create an enemy to legitimize themselves and thus exploited those fears…) For examples of such claims “in the press of the time,” see the words of an employee of the Municipal Hospital (“In the room was a boy, very badly wounded by dum-dum bullets that had blown apart his diaphragm, his sacroiliac, and left an exit wound the size of a 5 lei coin,” Expres no. 10 (6-12 April 1990), p. 5) and the discussion of how Bogdan Stan died (“vidia bullets which explode when they hit their ‘target,’ entered into the bone marrow of his spine,” Adevarul, 13 January 1990). But such claims also appear long after the December 1989 events. Two and a half and three years after the December 1989 events, Army Colonel Ion Stoleru maintained in detail that the “terrorists” had “weapons with silencers, with scopes, for shooting at night time (in ‘infrared’), bullets with a ‘vidia’ tip [more on this and the relation to dum-dum munitions below]. Really modern weapons” and added, significantly, “The civilian and military commissions haven’t followed through in investigating this…” (see Army Colonel Ion Stoleru with Mihai Galatanu, “Din Celebra Galerie a Teroristilor,” Expres, no. 151 (22-28 December 1992), p. 4, and “Am vazut trei morti suspecti cu fata intoarsa spre caldarim,” Flacara, no. 29 (22 July 1992), p. 7.) Voinea’s steadfast denials would seem to validate Stoleru’s allegations more than a decade after he made them. Not surprisingly, but highly unfortunate, Cristea’s interview with Voinea forms the basis of conclusions about the terrorists on the Romanian-language Wikipedia webpage on the Revolution: see http://ro.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolu%C5%A3ia_rom%C3%A2n%C4%83_din_1989.

[3] Laura Toma, Toma Roman Jr. , and Roxana Ioana Ancuta, “Belis nu a vazut cadavrele Ceausestilor,” Jurnalul National, 25 October 2005, http://www.jurnalul.ro/articole/34668/belis-nu-a-vazut-cadavrele-ceausestilor. “Frumos (Nice)…” as the Romanians say. Belis may not have interested himself in the ballistics evidence—but some of his employees apparently did (see IML Dr. Florin Stanescu’s comments in Ion Costin Grigore, Cucuveaua cu Pene Rosii (Bucharest: Editura Miracol, 1994), pp. 70-72). Moreover, there were exhumations. (“For a long time the Brasov Military Prosecutor didn’t do anything, even though there existed cases, declarations, documents, photos and even atypical unusual bullets brought in by the families of the deceased and wounded.” http://www.portalulrevolutiei.ro/forum/index.php?topic=1.msg214) On 14 June 1990, General Nicolae Spiroiu, future Defense Minister (1991-1994), appears to have been in the city of Brasov, assisting at the exhumation of people killed there during the December 1989 Revolution. Such a step was a rarity, and apparently followed earlier talks between Spiroiu, five other officers, and the staff of the local newspaper Opinia, who were seeking clarification over who was responsible for the deaths of their fellow citizens. “They found in particular bullets of a 5.6 mm caliber that are not in the Army’s arsenal,” wrote the journalist Romulus Nicolae of the investigation. (Romulus Nicolae, “Au ars dosarele procuraturii despre evenimente din decembrie,” Cuvintul, no. 32 (August 1991), pp. 4-5, cited in Richard Andrew Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian: Prosecutor Voinea’s Campaign to Sanitize the Romanian Revolution of December 1989,” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html.)

[4] Dr. Nicolae Constantinescu, surgeon at Coltea Hospital: “I remember that on 1 or 2 January ’90 there appeared at the [Coltea] hospital a colonel from the Interior Ministry, who presented himself as Chircoias. He maintained in violent enough language that he was the chief of a department from the Directorate of State Security [ie. Securitate]. He asked that all of the extracted bullets be turned over to him. Thus were turned over to him 40 bullets of diverse forms and dimensions, as well as munition fragments. I didn’t hear anything back from Chircoias or any expert. Those who made the evidence disappear neglected the fact that there still exist x-rays and other military documents that I put at the disposition of the [Military] Prosecutor.”

( http://www.romanialibera.ro/a113826/revolutia-5-000-de-victime-nici-un-vinovat.html)

[5] Tom Gallagher, Modern Romania: The End of Communism, the Failure of Democratic Reform, and the Theft of a Nation, (NY: New York University Press, 2005), p. 190.

[6] Jeremy Bransten, “Romania: The Bloody Revolution in 1989: Chaos as the Ceausescus Are Executed,” RFE/RFL, 14 December 1999 at http://www.rferl.org/specials/communism/10years/romania2.asp. This unfortunate comment aside, Brantsen’s series is an excellent journalistic introduction to the December 1989 events.

[7] Iliesiu is dead wrong. See the signed testimony to the contrary by Ion Lungu and Dumitru Refenschi dated 26 December 1989, reproduced in Ioan Itu, “Mostenirea teroristilor,” Tinerama, no. 123 (9-15 April 1993), p. 7. I translated the important parts of this document in Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html. Significantly, according to this document, Dr. Belis had access to the dead terrorists:

Dead Terrorists. Although their existence is vehemently denied by all official institutions, we are able to prove that they existed and have sufficient details to identify them.…We continue with some excerpts of the declaration of Ion Lungu, head of the group of fighters who guarded the ‘Institute of Legal Medicine’ [IML, the main Bucharest morgue], beginning from the evening of 22 December 1989:

“Starting from the 23rd, there were brought, in succession, more ‘special’ corpses. They were brought only by military vehicles and were accompanied by officers. They were all dressed the same: kaki uniforms, with or without military insignia, fur-lined boots, cotton underwear. All the clothes were new. The established procedure at that point was that when the bodies were unloaded from the trucks, at the ramp to the back of the IML, to be disrobed and inspected. The documents found were released to Prosecutor Vasiliu and criminology officers. The weapons and munitions we found and surrendered—on the basis of a verbal procedure—to the officer on duty from UM 01046. Weapons and ammunition were found only on those ‘special’ corpses. Those who brought them said that they were terrorists. I turned over to this military unit five pistols (three Stecikin and two Makarov—all 9 mm caliber), two commando daggers and hundreds of 9 mm and 7.62 mm cartridges (compatible with the AKM machine gun). They were held separately from the other corpses, in a room—I believe that it used to be the coatroom—with a guard at the door.…

Access to the room with the terrorists was strictly forbidden. Only Prosecutor Vasiliu, criminologist officers, Dr. Belis, and the chief of autopsies could enter. On top of them, next to the arms, there were personal documents, passports (some blank), all types of identity cards—one of them was clearly false, it stated that the dead terrorist was the director at Laromet (at that plant no director died)—identity cards that were brand new, different service stamps in white. All had been shot by rifles (one was severed in two) and showed evidence of gunshots of large caliber. Some had tattoos (they had vultures on their chests), were young (around 30 years old), and were solidly built. I believe that their identity was known, since otherwise I can’t explain why their photographs were attached to those of unidentified corpses. They were brought to us in a single truck. In all, there were around 30 dead terrorists. [The document is signed by Ion Lungu and Dumitru Refenschi on 26 December 1989]”

[8] Once again Iliesiu is wrong. Professor Andrei Firica at the Bucharest “Emergency Hospital” apparently also was paid a visit by Colonel Chircoias (aka Ghircoias), see fn. 4. He claims that he “made a small file of the medical situations of the 15-20 suspected terrorists from [i.e. interned at] the Emergency Hospital,” but as he adds “of course, all these files disappeared.” Firica reports that a Militia colonel, whom he later saw on TV in stripes as a defendant in the Timisoara trial [i.e. Ghircoias], came to the hospital and advised him “not to bring reporters to the beds of the terrorists, because these were just terrorist suspects and I didn’t want to wake up one day on trial for having defamed someone” (!) The colonel later came and loaded the wounded terrorist suspects into a bus and off they went. (Professor Andrei Firica, interview by Florin Condurateanu, “Teroristii din Spitalul de Urgenta,” Jurnalul National, 9 March 2004, online edition.) Cited in Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html.

[9] I don’t even know where to begin on this one. As I have written before, not all of those detained were terrorists, and many of the terrorists seemed to have eluded arrest, but there are so many accounts of people arrested as terrorists who legitimately fit that description that I don’t even know where to begin. See the multiple translations in Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html.

[10] Sorin Iliesiu, “18 ani de la masacrul care a deturnat revoluţia anticomunistă,” 21 December 2007, found at http://www.romanialibera.com/articole/articol.php?step=articol&id=6709 (note: this is NOT the Romania Libera daily newspaper). One will find many well-known names in the West among those who signed this petition: Dragoş Paul Aligică, Matei Călinescu, Ruxandra Cesereanu, Anneli Ute Gabanyi, Tom Gallagher, Gabriel Liiceanu, Norman Manea, Nicolae Manolescu, Mircea Mihaies, Ion Mihai Pacepa, Horia-Roman Patapievici, Radu Portocală, Nestor Ratesh, Lavinia Stan, Stelian Tănase, Alin Teodorescu, and Vladimir Tismăneanu. Sorin Iliesiu, who is a filmmaker and Vice President of the “Civic Alliance” organization, has written that he was part of the “team” that “edited” the seven page chapter on the Romanian Revolution contained in the Report of the Presidential Commission to Analyze the Communist Dictatorship of Romania (PCACDR). He is not a scholar and most certainly not a scholar of the December 1989 events. A textual comparison of the Report’s chapter on the Revolution and Vladimir Tismaneanu’s chapter in a Dawisha and Parrott edited volume from 1997 is unambiguous: the introductory two paragraphs of the Report’s chapter are taken verbatim in translation from p. 414 of Tismaneanu’s 1997 chapter, and other verbatim paragraphs, sentences, and phrases from pp. 414-417 make up parts of the rest of the Report’s Revolution chapter without any reference to the 1997 chapter. As the author(s) of an earlier chapter in the Report cite(s) Tismaneanu’s 1997 chapter (see p. 376 fn. 55) correctly, this leaves really only two possible explanations for the failure of Iliesiu et. al. to cite that they have borrowed wholesale from Tismaneanu’s 1997 chapter: a) an absence of scholarly knowledge, or b) an attempt to mask their dependence upon and deference to Tismaneanu, the Chair of the Commission, since the citations that do appear are the exact citations from the 1997 chapter and claims are translated word-by-word, so much so that Iliesiu et. al. did not even bother to change verb tenses despite the passage of a decade. Iliesiu et. al. can attempt to avoid answering questions and attempt to change the subject, but the textual analysis is unambiguous: Tismaneanu’s unattributed 1997 chapter forms the bulk of the Report’s chapter on the Revolution. The only question that needs to be answered is: why and why are they unwilling to admit the textual identicality?

[11] All of this eludes Charles King in his Winter 2007 Slavic Review essay “Remembering Romanian Communism.” In his five page essay, he pauses no less than four times to mention the Revolution, despite the fact that its coverage takes up barely one percent of the PCACDR report. He relates the most banal of conclusions—“The report thus repeats the common view (at least among western academics) of the revolution as having been hijacked…”—yet misses or avoids what Iliesiu clearly seems most proud of: having inserted the claim that Nicolae Ceausescu was responsible for “only 162 deaths,” thereby insinuating Ceausescu’s successors bear responsibility for the other 942, and the claim to which such a reckoning is intimately related, namely Voinea’s that there were “no terrorists.” (It is interesting to note how Iliesiu et. al., the eternally suspicious of the state, miraculously become assiduous promoters of “official” and “state” claims once they turn out to be their own, thereby suggesting that their skepticism of the state is primarily situational rather than inherent—these are not equal opportunity skeptical and critical intellectuals.) King’s treatment of the Report is overall insufficiently informed, and as a consequence contextually-wanting and one-sided. He cites a handful of Romanian reviews of the Report, but they are almost uniformly positive accounts, almost as if supplied by the Chair of the Commission himself (see fn. 1, p. 718). He pauses to cite the former head of Radio Free Europe’s Romanian Research Division Michael Shafir’s 1985 book, yet makes no mention of Shafir’s trenchant criticisms (he gave the report a 7 out of 10 and mixed the positive with the negative) in a 1/12/07 interview in Ziua de Cluj, his extended critique “RAPORTUL TISMĂNEANU: NOTE DIN PUBLIC ŞI DIN CULISE” available in spring 2007 at http:// www.eleonardo.tk/ (no. 11), or his “Scrisoare (ultra)deschisa” in Observator Cultural no. 382 (25 July-1 August 2007) [given the timeline of scholarly publication, I am attempting to give King the benefit of the doubt here …He would certainly do well to read Shafir’s most recent discussion in Observator Cultural NR. 148 (406) 17 – 23 ianuarie 2008, “Despre clarificari nebuloase, plagiate, imposturi si careerism,” to see what a venerable critic and serious scholar was subjected to as a result of deigning to not wholeheartedly embrace the Report. Shafir’s treatment by the Report’s zealots has little to do with the liberal democratic view of the open society the Report’s authors ceaselessly profess.] Finally, had Charles King bothered to read Ciprian Siulea’s “Tentatia unui nou absolutism moral: Cu cine si de ce polemizeaza Vladimir Tismaneanu?” (Observator Cultural, nr. 379, 5-11 iulie 2007, once again conceivably within the publishing timeline) he might have refrained from parrotting the polarizing and unhelpful plebiscitary logic applied to the Report when he closed “The question is now whether the commission’s report will be used as yet another opportunity to reject history or as a way of helping Romanians learn, at last, how to own it” (p. 723). This, of course, suggests a certain infallible quality to the Report—which is far from the case—a conclusion only enhanced by King’s willingness to focus on the “hate speech” directed against the Report, but yet failing to cite and discuss any of the Romanian scholarly criticism of it.

[12] “Aghiotantii lui Ceausescu povestesc minut cu minut: O zi din viata dictatorului,” Romania Libera, 2 December 2005, online at http://www.romanialibera.ro/a5040/o-zi-din-viata-dictatorului.html. “Declaratie Subsemnatul TALPEANU ION, fiul lui Marin si Elena, nascut la 27 mai 1947 in comuna Baneasa, judetul Giurgiu, fost aghiotant prezidential cu grad de lt. col. in cadrul Directiei a V-a – Serviciul 1. Cu privire la armamentul din dotare arat ca, noi, aghiotantii aveam pistol “Makarov” cu 12 cartuse, iar sefii de grupa si ofiterii din grupa aveau pistolet “Makarov”, pistolet “Stecikin” si pistol-mitraliera AKM, cu munitie aferenta, care era cea obisnuita, in sensul ca nu aveam gloante dum-dum sau cu proprietati speciale, de provenienta straina.” (Dated 2 February 1990). His denial of dum-dum bullets is, of course, par for the course for former Securitate officers, who remember and thus “know nothing.”

[13] Quoted from http://www.tourismguide.ro/html/orase/Arad/Curtici/istoric_curtici.php. This raises an interesting point: there were foreign doctors who participated in Romania or in their home country in the surgery, treatment, and rehabilitation of those wounded. It would be interesting to hear what they remember and what they have to say regarding the munitions.

[15]Adina Anghelescu-Stancu refers to the “crippled and handicapped by dum-dum bullets” who do not number among Romania’s celebrities and about whom no one wishes to remember in today’s Romania, “Dureri care nu trec! (despre decembrie ‘89),” Gardianul, 18 December 2007, online at http://www.gardianul.ro/2007/12/18/editorial-c27/dureri_care_nu_trec_despre_decembrie_89_-s106259.html.

[16] I have examined the incident in detail several times, for the references to other works, see Richard Andrew Hall, “The Romanian Revolution as Geopolitical Parlor Game,” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/checkmate040405.pdf, and Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian,” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html.

[17] Once again, see “The Romanian Revolution as Geopolitical Parlor Game,” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/checkmate040405.pdf, and “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian,” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html. The critical articles were authored by Mihai Floca and Victor Stoica, who interviewed the Army cadre who had been involved in the incident and the residents of the surrounding apartment blocs who survived the fighting of those days.

[18] destituirea “Romanian Revolution USLA attack Dec 23 1989 Revolutia,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlBRSxUVQ5E

[19] For the photo see http://www.portalulrevolutiei.ro/documente/glont.htm; for one of his posts see http://www.portalulrevolutiei.ro/index.php?menu=6&pg=forum_thread.php&lnk=1&pagina=39. I cannot verify that this is indeed a “vidia” munition.

[20] Christian Levant, “Dacă tata nu-l salva pe Tokes, dacă nu salva biserici, tot se întâmpla ceva,” Adevarul, 30 September 2006, online at http://www.adevarul.ro/articole/dac-x103-tata-nu-l-salva-pe-tokes-dac-x103-nu-salva-biserici-tot-se-nt-mpla-ceva/200090.

[21] Cezar-Vladimir Rogoz, Povestirile teroristilor amintiri preluate si prelucrate de Cezar-Vladimir Rogoz, (Alma Print Galati 2007), p. 297, available online at http://www.bvau.ro/docs/e-books/2007/Rogoz,%20Cezar-Vladimir/povestirile_teroristilor.pdf.

[22]“A invatat sa zambeasca, [He learned how to smile],” http://marianmanescu.wordpress.com/2007/12/21/a-invatat-sa-zambeasca.

[25] Puspoki F., “Piramida Umbrelor (III),” Orizont (Timisoara), no. 11 (16 March 1990) p.4, and Roland Vasilevici, Piramida Umbrelor (Timisoara: Editura de Vest, 1991), p. 61.

[26] For the discussion of the former Securitate response to those who have violated the code of silence, see Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian,” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html.

[28] I refer here to, for example, the works of Vladimir Tismaneanu, Matei Calinescu, Andrei Codrescu, Anneli Ute Gabanyi, Radu Portocala, and Nestor Ratesh. Some, like Tismaneanu in a 1993 article in EEPS, “The Quasi-Revolution and its Discontents,” were more explicit about this rather rigid dichotomous approach to the Romanian media, but it also comes through clearly in the sourcing, citations, and footnotes/endnotes of the others. (It continues to haunt the historiography of post-communist Romania, as works such as Tom Gallagher’s aforementioned Modern Romania make clear). To say the least, the issue of ballistics evidence essentially goes unanalyzed in these accounts. Moreover, although as we have seen, these authors have no problem affixing their names to petitions and the like, none of them has published any research on the December 1989 events since the early 1990s. It should tell you something that they continue to rely on and repeat the accounts they wrote in 1990 and 1991…as if nothing had been discovered or written since. In that way, it is almost fitting that the Report of the PCADCR reproduced Tismaneanu’s 1997 Dawisha and Parrott chapter in some places verbatim, down to failing to even change verb tenses when it states that certain questions “remain to be clarified.” I deconstructed the methodological faults in source selection in these émigré accounts in “The Romanian Revolution as Geopolitical Parlor Game” at http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/checkmate040405.html.

[29] For earlier discussions of all of this, see Richard Andrew Hall, “The Uses of Absurdity: The Staged-War Theory of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989,” East European Politics and Societies, vol. 13, no. 3, and Richard Andrew Hall, “The Securitate Roots of a Modern Romanian Fairy Tale,” Radio Free Europe East European Perspectives, April-May 2002, three part series, available at http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/romania%20securitate%205-2002.html.

[30] In “The Romanian Revolution as Geopolitical Parlor Game,” I demonstrated how even the so-called French and German schools (really the schools of Romanian émigrés in those countries) in 1990 were not and could not be independent from accounts in Romania, and that the accounts fed into and reinforced one another. It is simply intellectual myth—and an all too convenient one—to argue the antisceptic separation of these accounts as independent.

[31] Smaranda Vultur, “Revolutia recitita,” 22 no. 787 (9-15 April 2005) online at http://www.revista22.ro.

[32] Richard Andrew Hall, trans. Adrian Bobeica, “Ce demonstreaza probele balistice dupa sapte ani?” 22, no. 51 (17-23 December 1996), p. 10, and Richard Andrew Hall, trans. Corina Ileana Pop, “Dupa 7 ani,” Sfera Politicii no. 44 (1996), pp. 61-63.

[33] See my discussion in “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian,” at http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html.

[34] Monica Ciobanu’s review of Siani-Davies The Romanian Revolution of December 1989 and Tom Gallagher’s Modern Romania: Theft of a Nation is entitled “The Myth Factory” (found at http://www.tol.cz).

[35] Charles King, “Remembering Romanian Communism,” Slavic Review, Winter 2007, p 719. In King’s short article, he does not hesitate to make occasionally gratuitous citations for things he did not need to cite. Yet in discussing December 1989 and using the term “elsewhere”—which usually prefaces a description of “where else” one might find these things—there are no citations. “Although never exhaustively” is itself a gratuitous choice of words and far from accidental: in my last work on December 1989, I made light of how ridiculous it was for Daniel Chirot to claim that Peter Siani-Davies’ The Romanian Revolution of December 1989, an otherwise excellent work, was “near definitive” when so much was missing from Siani-Davies’ discussion—notably, for our purposes here, the question of dum-dum/vidia/exploding munitions. One could indeed be left with the impression that King intends to deliver a put-down, that some fellow Romanianists will no doubt catch, but yet deny the broader audience references to what he alludes and simultaneously protect his image from having delivered such a “palma” as the Romanians would say. It would appear that at least for readers of this paper, his goals won’t go completely fulfilled.

[36] See my discussion in “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian,” at http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html.

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Ceausescu, decembrie 1989, teroristii, si gloante dum-dum (continuarea)

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on September 13, 2008

Maria Petrascu 2007-09-06


DOMNULE iLIE jEAN., sunt ziarista, de 17 ani ma ocup doar de problema evenimentelor din decembrie 89, de la Brasov si din tara si daca am intrebat unde , in ce oras a fost ucis acel soldat am intrebat pentru ca si la Brasov au fot ucisi (impuscati toti in cap sau cu gloante dum-dum) iar soldatii nu sunt contabilizati acolo unde au murit ci in satucul, comuna sau micul oras de unde proveneau. de aceea domnule Ilie numarul viczimelor anuntaet oficial nu este real, pt.ca nu sunt contabilizati soldatii in termen.

http://www.portalulrevolutiei.ro/index.php?menu=6&pg=forum_thread.php&lnk=1&pagina=69.

http://stiri.rol.ro/arhiva/content/view/204490/5/.

Declaratiile generalului Mihai Chitac au starnit mania revolutionarilor

E-mail

_WED, 14 December 2005

Dan Bacan

Generalul (r) Mihai Chitac a sustinut ieri in fata instantei supreme ca nu el a dat ordin sa se traga in manifestantii adunati in fata Catedralei din Timisoara, in decembrie 1989. El a mai precizat ca se afla in zona Catedralei din ordinul primit de la generalul Ion Coman si avea ca misiune sa imprastie demonstrantii cu ajutorul gazelor lacrimogene. Afirmatiile lui Chitac i-au scos din sarite pe revolutionarii aflati in sala, care au amenintat ca-si vor cauta dreptatea la Haga.
“Nu am dat ordin sa se traga la catedrala. Cand am ajuns eu acolo, in jurul orei 18.30, multimea era imprastiata si era intuneric”, a declarat Chitac in fata instantei. Fostul general a spus judecatorilor ca el se afla la Catedrala pentru ca primise ordin de la generalul Ion Coman, seful Sectiei Militare, sa imprastie demonstrantii cu ajutorul gazelor lacrimogene, el detinand pe atunci functia de comandant al trupelor chimice. “Ion Coman era mana dreapta a lui Ceausescu si avea in subordine armata, Ministerul de Interne si justitia. Totodata, Vasile Milea, generalul Guse si Ilie Ceausescu erau singurii care aveau dreptul sa dea ordin sa se traga”, a spus Chitac. Contrar afirmatiilor partilor civile implicate in dosar, care spun ca s-a tras in ei cu cartuse de tip “dum -dum“, generalul a negat ca in dotarea Ministerului Apararii Nationale (MApN) s-ar fi aflat munitie de acest tip, dar a sustinut ca nu are cunostinta care era dotarea Ministerului de Interne. Intrebat in legatura cu modul in care a colaborat cu generalul (r) Victor Athanasie Stanculescu, Chitac a aratat ca s-a intalnit cu acesta doar de doua-trei ori. “Nu am colaborat cu generalul Stanculescu in timpul revolutiei de la Timisoara. De altfel, am aflat mai tarziu ca acesta era internat in spital”, a precizat Chitac.

“Bani cheltuiti si ti mp pierdut”

Declaratiile lui Chitac au provocat nemultumirea revolutionarilor sau a reprezentantilor acestora care se aflau in sala de judecata. Dupa terminarea sedintei de judecata, ei au sustinut in fata presei ca acest proces inseamna “bani cheltuiti si timp pierdut”, singura lor speranta de a mai obtine dreptate fiind in “instanta suprema de la Haga”.
Revolutionarii, unii dintre ei in carje, au spus ca au dovezi filmate si documente prin care pot demonstra ca au fost retinuti si batuti la garnizoana militara din Timisoara. Mai mult decat atat, unul dintre revolutionari a declarat ca soldatii care erau in piata din Timisoara se aflau sub comanda lui Gheorghe Badea, care, ulterior, din ordinul lui Ion Iliescu, ar fi fost avansat la gradul de locotenent-colonel. Revolutionarii au sustinut ca urmeaza tratamente care ii costa multi bani si ca majoritatea urmeaza tratamente psihiatrice ca urmare a loviturilor primite si a dramelor pe care le-au trait.

Cu politia la I NML

Tot la termenul de ieri, instanta a dispus ca Victor Stanculescu sa fie supus unei expertize medico-legale cu internare si i-a pus in vedere generalului, prin avocatul sau, sa se prezinte de buna voie la INML, altfel se va apela la politie. Comisia Institutului National de Medicina Legala “Mina Minovici” a fost sesizata in acest caz inca din septembrie, pe numele lui Stanculescu existand o ordonanta prin care medicii trebuie sa se pronunte daca acesta suporta sau nu regimul de detentie. Stanculescu nu s-a prezentat la INML nici pentru investigatiile medicale necesare in acest caz.
In 22 martie 2004, Sectiile Unite ale Inaltei Curti de Casatie si Justitie au decis, la 14 ani de la revolutie, rejudecarea generalilor Victor Athanasie Stanculescu si Mihai Chitac, acuzati de reprimarea timisorenilor. Instanta suprema a motivat ca nu a fost respectat dreptul la aparare in 1999, atunci cand cei doi au fost condamnati la cate 15 ani de detentie.

BOZGAN GHEORGHE (…@inext.ro, IP: 92.84.53…)

2008-09-08 22:33

DOMNILOR REVOLUTIONARI,ARMATA ISI BATE JOC DE DVS.

Infractiunile pedepsibile cu detentie pe viata sau inchisoare mai mare de 15 ani (cele de omor, in special) SE PRESCRIU in 15 de ani,deci pentru crimele din decembrie 1989 s-a implinit termenul de prescriptie prin 2005. Aproximativ 99 % din criminalii care au tras se afla in situatia asta.
In ziarul Tineretul Liber (fost Scinteia tineretului) din martie 1990,generalul Stanculescu este pozat tinind in mina citeva gloante cu cap vidia.Generalul spune ” am strins munitie si armament strain,am facut si un film in acest sens,uitati-va am aici in palma cite gloante cu cap vidia ce nu sunt in dotarea armatei romane” Stiti ce la ce concluzie au ajuns 3 Comisii parlamentare de cercetare a evenimentelor din decembrie 1989,dar si …Parchetul Militar ? NU S-AU DESCOPERIT DOVEZI PRIVIND EXISTENTA ARMAMENTULUI SI MUNITIEI DE PROVENIENTA STRAINA…..

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