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 ‘lunetisti decembrie 1989’


Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on September 28, 2010




by Richard Andrew Hall

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.

This paper MAY be cited when accompanied by a full, proper citation.  Thank you.



Judging Voinea’s Credibility

Why do I question Voinea’s credibility on the “terrorist” question—despite the chorus of adulation, gratitude, and acceptance outlined above?  Before moving on directly to the issue of the “terrorists,” let us look at two potentially-related—in fact, I argue, related—matters as test cases of Voinea’s credibility in his recent comments on the Revolution.  Although not necessarily central to the story of December 1989, allegations regarding the existence, use, and discovery of gunfire simulators, and the institutional affiliation of so-called “lunetisti” (sharpshooters/snipers), are part of that story.  These should not be difficult questions for Voinea, but instead he dismisses them with an unexpected salvo of “definitive” answers, designed to leave little room for further questioning from the interviewer.  As I shall demonstrate, however, it leaves an ocean of doubt.

Test Case I:  Automatic Gunfire Simulators

Romulus Cristea (reporter “Romania Libera,” interview 22 December 2005):  “Were any automatic gunfire devices or simulators found?”

Dan Voinea:  “No!  We don’t have a single confirmation of any such gunfire simulator!  Until now we have not come into possession of any such device.  No one saw such a gunfire simulator.  A device was presented on TV as a simulator, but [it] was nothing of the sort.  It was a lie!  Before 1989, any device would have been in the inventory of a[n state] institution.  No organization of ours, from the army to the Interior Ministry to the information services had such an apparatus in its stockpile.  Not only did they not exist in the stockpiles, none were found, and we do not have any evidence that such apparatuses were brought into the country….”[14]

Doesn’t leave a lot of room for misinterpretation or doubt, huh?  Let us observe three key elements in Voinea’s response.  He denies not only that 1) no Romanian institution had such device, but that 2) no such devices were used in December 1989, and 3) no such devices were found in December 1989.  This offers us three potential points of access to refuting his argument.

To begin with, there are the comments of senior communist official, CPEx (Romania’s version of the Politburo) member Silviu Curticeanu, who was in the Central Committee building [the center of Nicolae Ceausescu’s power] during these fateful December days.  Asked by the daily Jurnalul National about Ceausescu’s reaction to the disruption of his ill-conceived outdoor mass rally on 21 December 1989, Curticeanu responded:

“There was no public reaction.  He called together everyone responsible for the organization and smooth functioning of the meeting.  Those from the Securitate came and brought these nightsticks of which I spoke earlier, [as well as] simulators.  They had some electronic apparatuses. Everyone said the meeting was a provocation and everyone concluded the meeting was a provocation.  After that [Ceausescu] left, as I said earlier, and then he held the teleconference [with party officials throughout the country] and that was it.”[15]

So, according to Curticeanu, there were simulators:   they were brought to the CC building, and they were brought by the Securitate.

But wait, you say, Curticeanu was a party official, how would he know if these were simulators?  A fair question.  Well, then, let us look at the response of Securitate Director General Iulian Vlad before the Gabrielescu commission investigating the December events during the early 1990s:

“Mr. Gabrielescu:  Did you hear about these simulators that were used?”

“Mr. Vlad:  Of course, all of the Securitate had them…It seems to me that just such an electronic apparatus was used also on 21 December when the meeting broke up.  After Nica Leon (shouted ‘Timisoara, Timisoara!’) automatic gunfire was heard and panic broke out…”[16]

So, according to no less than the head of the Securitate himself, the Securitate had such simulators and such a device was used on 21 December (—significantly he leaves the context ambiguous, suggesting indeed that they could have been used to break up the rally after it had turned against Ceausescu).

But neither of these sources, even if somewhat unintentionally divulging details that undermine their claims about December 1989, has a great deal of credibility.  How about someone else—particularly someone with greater credibility among those who accept Voinea’s arguments—and how about a discussion of the simulators after 22 December?  Understood.

Dumitru Mazilu, a key player in the December events who had by the time of the following comments become a fierce critic of Ion Iliescu and his cohorts, declared in 1991:

Reporter:  What do you know about these controversial simulators?

Mazilu:  In several places simulators were found.  These imitated perfectly the rat-a-tat-tat of machine guns, making an infernal racket, which provoked a lot of panic in the population and confused the young revolutionaries and soldiers.[17]

Yes, but what about eyewitness accounts, by average citizens?  Andrei Ionescu, who claims to have demonstrated on 21 December in University Square and to have participated in the events of the next several days in and around the Central Committee [i.e., CC] building, stated in 1992: “They didn’t break a single window [firing] in the CC.  There were simulators because a bunch of us verified this in the ‘Romarta’ bloc, on the second floor.”[18]

Those inclined to give Prosecutor Voinea the benefit of the doubt also happen to be people who otherwise listen to what poet Mircea Dinescu has to say—with the convenient exception of the Revolution:

Interviewer:  But the terrorists existed?

Mircea Dinescu:  Yes, they existed!  They exist! [the interview transpires in 1997]  I also saw the electronic simulators, Bucharest was full of them, there were long-existing plans, for the eventuality of invasions, attacks, etc.[19]

Nor were simulators found in only in Bucharest.  Recent articles on the Internet show people discovering them in Arad (Gai), Brasov, Sibiu, and Satu Mare.[20] These findings are significant because they show pattern, and, likely, planning and pre-positioning, across distant reaches of the country—just as Dinescu surmises.

Yet, remember:  Prosecutor Voinea wants us to believe that the gunfire simulators did not exist and were not used in December 1989.

Test Case II:  The Lunetisti

Romulus Cristea:  “If the terrorists didn’t exist, what can you tell us about the sharpshooters [lunetisti]?

Dan Voinea:  “The sharpshooters existed, all those who were equipped with weapons with scopes and were dispatched in battle at the time.  There was shooting with weapons with scopes.  The sharpshooters were from the army. [emphasis added]”[21]

That the Army had sharpshooters with gun scopes is not in question.  But Voinea’s certainty that those who shot with them in December 1989 were from the Army is jarring.  In fact, it was the Securitate who we know had sharpshooters dispatched during these days.  How do we know it?  Well, here is Alexandru Cristescu, former chief of special operations for the Securitate’s “Special Unit for Anti-terrorist Warfare” (USLA), in front of the (Gabrielescu) Senate Commission investigating the December events in the early 1990s:

“On the night of 20-21 December, the decision was made to hold the meeting [i.e. Ceausescu’s ill-fated outdoor address].  At 5 AM I was called to organize measures for the meeting.  I had 5 reserve [groups] of about 20 cadres, in 5 places, and 5 observation posts in the buildings surrounding the square with the CC building.  The officers had pistols, while the observation posts had guns with scopes [“pusca cu luneta,” PSL, i.e. what lunetisti use], with five cartridges each, and binoculars.”[22]

Andreea Tudor and Vasile Surcel more recently wrote of having come into possession of the “notes” of an “information service” that suggest that the Bucharest Municipal Securitate’s “Service 8 Guards” were deployed on 21 December 1989 in central Bucharest, some near University Square [where demonstrators were later massacred]:

“‘observer-sharpshooters’ were placed on the ‘Generala’ bloc, the tower of the bloc on Boteanu Street number 3.  In the ‘Generala’ bloc there even existed a ‘safe house’ apartment in which ‘sharpshooters’ were usually ‘located.’  The same ‘Note’ shows that, on 21 December 1989, Lt. Dumitru Safta was placed in this bloc, on the fourth floor, in apartment 23, that officially belongs to the Piciu family.  The officer had on his person a Makarov [9 mm] pistol with 12 cartridges, a machine gun with 120 cartridges, a sharpshooter rifle, binoculars, and a walkie-talkie.”[23]

Razvan Belciuganu observes of a document from the Army’s Chief of the General Staff listing the weapons found on 109 suspected “terrorists” during the events:  “What is interesting is the fact that on many of these [people] were found hunting rifles to which had been attached scopes [“lunete”], and even sophisticated night-vision devices.”[24]

Finally, there are the recollections of eyewitnesses, a decade and a half later, who—despite the onslaught of cynicism toward such ideas—continue to maintain they saw what they thought they saw…

“I was an eyewitness to the capture of a terrorist (based on the color of his tan I’d swear he was Arab) who was using a PSL [i.e. sharpshooting rifle, a lunetist] and firing into the population…he was taken alive and beaten in front of my own eyes by the Army, then taken up into a truck, also by the Army…in the following days they continued to sustain over and over on radio and TV that there did NOT exist any terrorists, or at least that none had been captured…Yeah, I’m sure this guy bought his PSL at the ‘Universal’ department store.” [25]


“On the 24th I think, I was an eyewitness when soldiers captured an Arab sharpshooter (brown[-skinned] and he spoke broken Romanian)—who was using the famous “Pusca Semiautomata cu Luneta” (PSL—apparently Romanian) modified from an AK47.  I’m sure that he had  used it, and not just to help on his travels.  They whisked him away in a truck and they brought him to the command [post] of a large town (Brasov).  Later it was said that foreign forces were NOT implicated, or if they were, that there were no traces to prove it.  For me, that was the moment in which I began to believe that I was having a lie forced down my throat.”[26]

But Prosecutor Voinea can tell us—point blank—that those sharpshooters who fired in December were only from the Army!

What kind of people do not agree with Prosecutor Voinea’s type of conclusions regarding  the “lunetisti” and the alleged non-existence of  “terrorists”?  People like Andrei Firica, head of Floreasca Emergency Hospital in December 1989.  In 2004, he recalled of those who were shot after 22 December:

“…The conduct of a terrorist is to kill innocent people, to create panic.  When combatants are at war with one another, these can’t be considered terrorists.  But what else can you call someone who shoots [someone] right between the eyes, as happened to a woman on the 8th floor of a bloc on Balcescu Boulevard, in the area of the Unic department store…That person who fired was a ‘lunetist’ and for good reason was considered a terrorist.  Or what happened to a colleague of ours, a secretary at the Medical Sciences Academy, who was sitting in his home when he was hit in the middle of his head by a bullet.  These lunetisti, these sharpshooters, for good reason we call them terrorists….From a [medical] diagnostic standpoint, those who say that there were no terrorists are telling a boldfaced lie (porcarie).  In the Emergency hospital there were brought people who were shot with precision in the front, demonstrators hit by gunfire, from the back, from several meters away from the line of demonstrators, only terrorists could have done such things…”[27]

Firica 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, who he later saw on TV in stripes as a defendant in the Timisoara trial, 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.[28]

Voinea stands 0-for-2 then…and these were seemingly the easy questions.

Let us move on then from these two test cases, directly now to the question of the “terrorists”’ alleged non-existence.

[14] Interview with General Dan Voinea, by Romulus Cristea, “Toti alergau dupa un inamic invizibil [Everyone was chasing after an invisible enemy],” Romania Libera, 22 December 2005 online edition.

[15] “‘Trebuie sa demascam si sa lichidam actiunea,’” Jurnalul National, 17 November 2004, online edition.

[16] Quoted in Vlad Mihai, “Recurs la adevar.  Profesionistii diversiunii,” Dimineata, no. 244 (1801), December 1996, online edition.

[17] Dumitru Mazilu, interview by Emanoil Catan, “Mari Mistificari ale Istoriei Revolutiei Romane,” Expres Magazin, no. 64 (September 1991), p. 12.

[18] Rodica Chelaru, “De la Revolutie la cantina saracilor,” Expres, no. 101 (7-13 January 1992), p. 10.

[19] Mircea Dinescu, with Eugen Evu, “Dialoguri integrale in forum: ‘Tenebre romanian color,’” 1997 at  Inevitably, such claims recall initial reporting about the December events:  according to Blaine Harden on 30 December 1989, “In the days of street fighting that followed, he [a soldier] said, Securitate forces played tape recordings of gunfire over hidden speakers to confuse soldiers into firing their weapons.”  See Blaine Harden, “Elite Unit of Romanian Secret Police Seen Battling to the Death,” The Washington Post, 30 December 1989, p. A14.

[20] Vasile Surcel, “19 oameni au murit la Arad in zilele Revolutiei,” Jurnalul National, 29 October 2004, online edition.  Pintea Mos recounted in 2004 that in Arad in December 1989, “at the unit in Gai, on the covers of the entrance gunfire simulators were found.”  See “Remember 1989:  Revolutie de la Brasov,” 21 December 2003, at and “Remember decembrie 1989,” 22 August 2005 at concerning events in Brasov and Satu Mare.  For an older account placing them in Brasov, see Adrian Socaciu, “Cronica unei morti inexplicabile,” Cuvintul, January 1991, reproduced at  In Sibiu, “The locals are convinced that in Sibiu the famous ‘gunfire simulators’ ‘functioned,’ electronic apparatuses, not very complex, were placed in the attics of houses, but also on certain official buildings, that created panic among people through the broadcast of sounds similar to automatic gunfire” (Andreea Tudorica and Vasile Surcel, “Misterul disparitiei ‘baietilor in negru’, [“The mystery of the disappearance of ‘the boys in black’”], Jurnalul National, 15 September 2004, online edition.)

[21] Interview with General Dan Voinea, by Romulus Cristea, “Toti alergau dupa un inamic invizibil,” Romania Libera, 22 December 2005 online edition.

[22] Alexandru Cristescu, quoted in Cornel Dumitrescu, “Alte Dezvaluiri Senationale despre decembrie ’89,” Lumea Libera (New York), 18 March 1995, p. 21.

[23] Andreea Tudor and Vasile Surcel, “Mecanismul Terorii,” Jurnalul National, December 2004, online edition.

[24] Razvan Belciuganu, “Armele cu care au tras teroristii,” Jurnalul National, 6 December 2004, online edition.

[25] Posted on, 2 December 2003.

[26] Posted on, 15 December 2005.

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

[28] Ibid.

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