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 ‘With Friends Like These’

Final Boarding Call for TAROM’s special ROMBAC service from Bucuresti to Sibiu: Would the large party of suspicious “Soviet tourists” please report to the gate immediately! (III)

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on August 14, 2013

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https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/a-response-to-watts-ii-preliminary/

PARTS 1 AND 2

https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/2013/08/11/final-boarding-call-for-taroms-special-rombac-service-from-bucuresti-to-sibiu-would-the-large-party-of-suspicious-soviet-tourists-please-report-to-the-gate-immediately-ii/

 https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/2013/08/10/final-boarding-call-for-taroms-special-rombac-service-from-bucuresti-to-sibiu-would-the-large-party-of-suspicious-soviet-tourists-please-report-to-the-gate-immediately-i/

In the last episode, I discussed how high-level local and national Securitate officers were unable to find a foreign role in the Timisoara unrest, even though Nicolae Ceausescu and Securitate Director Iulian Vlad explicitly instructed them to find such a link (indicatii pretioase from top to bottom).

https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/2013/04/29/high-time-to-unpack-already-why-the-restless-journey-of-the-soviet-tourists-of-the-romanian-revolution-should-come-to-an-end/

Larry Watts maintains that “Ceausescu protested the sudden influx of Soviet “tourists” to Moscow at the time, none of whom stayed in hotels.  See e.g. Mircea Munteanu, New Evidence on the 1989 Crisis in Romania, e-Dossier no. 5, Washington D.C., Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, December 2001, pp. 3-11, CWIHP.” (With Friends Like These, 2010, p. 26 (endnote #26)

Let us look, however, at how Mircea Munteanu himself characterized these documents:

The following documents show the attempts of the Romanian regime to maintain secrecy

on the events taking place in Romania— even with regard to its increasingly estranged Soviet ally.

From restricting the access of Russian tourists in Romania beginning with 18 December (footnote 4)

(Document No. 1) to the demands made by the Romanian embassy in Moscow to the Soviet

leadership to prevent the Soviet media from publishing news reports about “alleged events”

taking place in Timisoara, Cluj and, later, Bucharest (Documents Nos. 4 and 5), Bucharest sought

to limit the damage to the regime’s image of stability. Afraid that information about the events

taking place in Romania would tarnish Ceausescu’s image of “a world leader,” the Foreign

Ministry instructed the Romanian embassies not to respond to any questions concerning the

“alleged” events and demanded that all actions taken by the Romanian government were

legitimate by virtue of its sovereignty. (Document No. 2).

The documents also present a picture of a regime grasping at straws, accusing even

former allies of conspiracy, and believing that isolation would insure its survival. Ceausescu’s

longstanding hysteria about the machinations of “foreign espionage agencies” — and his growing

mistrust towards Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev— reached new heights in his accusation that

turmoil in Romania was used by the Warsaw Pact to oust him (Ceausescu) from office, a

suggestion that struck Aboimov as utter “insanity.” (Documents Nos. 5 and 7). Quite the

contrary, the US-Soviet conversations suggest, was actually the case.

footnote #4:

There were persistent rumors, during and after the 1989 events in Romania that the Soviet KGB sent numerous agents in Romania in December 1989. Some accounts accused the KGB of attempting to destabilize the regime while others accused them of attempting to shore it up. Likely both accounts are somewhat exaggerated. While it is clear that the KGB was interested in obtaining information about the events, it is unlikely that it attempted to interfere, either way in the unfolding of the events. It is more likely that the closing of the borders both with the USSR but also with Hungary and Yugoslavia, is likely that stranded numerous transistors on Romanian territory.

e-Dossier No. 5 New Evidence on the 1989 Crisis in Romania Documents Translated and Introduced by Mircea Munteanu

http://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/e-dossier5.pdf

Significantly, then, there is no mention of “Ceausescu protesting a sudden influx Soviet “tourists” to Moscow at the time.”  Instead, as Munteanu discusses, the access of Soviet citizens to Romania was restricted beginning 18 December 1989–Munteanu speculates, in part to “maintain secrecy on the events taking place in Romania,” and in part because of Ceausescu’s longstanding hysteria about the machinations of “foreign espionage agencies” (that this was Ceausescu’s suspicion and mindset is clear; that it had a genuine basis in reality is not–as even his leading Securitate officers dispatched to Timisoara were to admit (https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/2013/04/29/high-time-to-unpack-already-why-the-restless-journey-of-the-soviet-tourists-of-the-romanian-revolution-should-come-to-an-end/)

It is also worth looking at exactly what is written in the documents from this E-dossier.  Here is an important excerpt from Romania’s Ambassador to Moscow, Ion Bucur:

I presented, in no uncertain terms, the decision of [the government of] Romania
to reject any attempts at interference in the internal matters of Romania. I expressed the decision
[of the Romanian leadership] to take any necessary measures against disruptive and diversionary
actions perpetrated by reactionary, anti-Romanian circles, by foreign special services and
espionage agencies (servicii speciale si oficinele de spionaj staine). With regard to the issue of
tourists crossing the border in Romania, I said that I did not posses an official communication in
this regard. I suggested that some temporary measures were adopted due to the need to limit
access of certain groups of tourists [in the country]. [Those limitats were imposed] due to
difficulties in assuring their access to hotel rooms and other related essential conditions. Those
limitations do not apply to business travel or tourists transiting Romania. I reminded [I. P.
Aboimov] that the Soviet government had introduced at different times such limitations on travel
for Romanian tourists to certain regions [of the Soviet Union] (Grozny and Armenia), which
[had] provoked dissatisfaction.
Document 4
Informational Note from the Romanian Embassy in Moscow
to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Bucharest)
21 December 1989, 8:00 am

—————————————————————————————————————

The critical passage of Ion Bucur’s dispatch above is probably the following:  “I suggested that some temporary measures were adopted due to the need to limit access of certain groups of tourists [in the country]. [Those limitats were imposed] due to difficulties in assuring their access to hotel rooms and other related essential conditions. Those limitations do not apply to business travel or tourists transiting Romania.”

I have written on this subject several times in the past, for example here http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1342503.html

DECEMBER 1989: NICOLAE CEAUSESCU INITIATES THE ‘TOURIST’ MYTH 
Not surprisingly, the “tourist” myth originated with none other than Nicolae Ceausescu. This myth inevitably implies illegitimate and cynical “foreign intervention,” and Ceausescu used it to make sense of what were — probably genuinely, for him — the unimaginable and surreal antiregime protests which began in Timisoara on 15 December 1989. 

In an emergency meeting of the Romanian equivalent of the politburo (CPEX) on the afternoon of Sunday, 17 December 1989 — the afternoon on which regime forces were to open fire on the anti-Ceausescu demonstrators in Timisoara, killing scores and wounding hundreds — Ceausescu alleged that foreign interference and manipulation were behind the protests: 

“Everything that has happened and is happening in Germany, in Czechoslovakia, and in Bulgaria now, and in the past in Poland and Hungary, are things organized by the Soviet Union with American and Western help” (cited in Bunea, 1994, p. 34). 

That Ceausescu saw “tourists” specifically playing a nefarious role in stimulating the Timisoara protests is made clear by his order at the close of this emergency meeting: 

“I have ordered that all tourist activity be interrupted at once. Not one more foreign tourist will be allowed in, because they have all turned into agents of espionage…. Not even those from the socialist countries will be allowed in, with the exception of [North] Korea, China, and Cuba. Because all the neighboring socialist countries are untrustworthy. Those sent from the neighboring socialist countries are sent as agents” (cited in Bunea, 1994, p. 34).

A CHRONOLOGY OF THE ‘TOURISTS’ ITINERARY AND ACTIVITIES ACCORDING TO TOP SECURITATE AND PARTY OFFICIALS IN THE IMMEDIATE AFTERMATH OF DECEMBER 1989 
Filip Teodorescu, who as head of the Securitate’s Counterespionage Directorate (Directorate III) had been dispatched to Timisoara and was later arrested for his role in the repression there, maintained in March 1990 at his trial that he detained “foreign agents” during the Timisoara events (“Romania libera,” 9 March 1990). In a book that appeared in 1992, Teodorescu described as follows the events in Timisoara on Monday, 18 December — that is, after the bloody regime repression of anti-Ceausescu demonstrators the night before: 

“There were few foreigners in the hotels, the majority of them having fled the town after lunch [on 17 December] when the clashes began to break out. The interested parties remained. Our attention is drawn to the unjustifiably large number of Soviet tourists, be they by bus or car. Not all of them stayed in hotels. They either had left their buses or stayed in their cars overnight. Border records indicate their points of entry as being through northern Transylvania. They all claimed they were in transit to Yugoslavia. The explanation was plausible, the Soviets being well-known for their shopping trips. Unfortunately, we did not have enough forces and the conditions did not allow us to monitor the activities of at least some of these ‘tourists'” (Teodorescu, 1992, p. 92). 

Teodorescu appears here to be attempting to account for the fact that on Monday, 18 December 1989 — presumably as a consequence of Ceausescu’s tirade the afternoon before about the malicious intent of virtually all “tourists” — Romania announced, in typically Orwellian fashion, that it would not accept any more tourists because of a “shortage of hotel rooms” and because “weather conditions are not suitable for tourism” (Belgrade Domestic Service, 20 December 1989). Ironically, the only ones exempted from this ban were “Soviet travelers coming home from shopping trips to Yugoslavia” (!) (AFP, 19 December 1989)…

One must also ask: If it was precisely Soviet tourists who were most suspected at the time of being up to no good in the country, then why was it precisely they who were the sole group among “tourists” in the country at the time to be permitted to stay and go about their business unhindered?

Bucur’s statement was corroborated by press reporting at the time:

FBIS-EEU-89-242 (19 December 1989), p. 85.  Paris AFP in English 1430 GMT 19 December 1989.

Vatin, Yugoslavia, Dec. 19 (AFP)

Romania’s borders are now closed to all but Soviet travellers, who pass through Romania to return home after shopping trips to Yugoslavia….

An AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE reporter was curtly told to “go back home, only Russians can get through,” after two Romanian border guards–one armed with a Kalashnikov rifle with an Alsatian guard dog at his side–carried out a detailed inspection of the license plates on some 15 cars waiting to cross.

https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/2013/03/28/yugoslavia-romania-border-19-december-1989-an-agence-france-presse-reporter-was-curtly-told-to-go-back-home-only-russians-can-get-through/

I have been using this source since back in the 1990s when I wrote my dissertation (defended December 1996) at Indiana University (Bloomington), but I still get a kick out of it when I come across it–particularly in light of the seemingly never-ending, snowballing revisionism which alleges that the Timisoara uprising was sparked by “Soviet tourists” or “Russian tourists,” etc.

18-19 December 1989: The Timisoara Crackdown in Ceausescu’s Absence

Considering the centrality of the “foreign tourist” scenario to Securitate-inspired accounts of the December events, it is interesting to note the actions taken by the Ceausescu regime on 18 December 1989. At the close of the emergency CPEx meeting on Sunday afternoon, Nicolae Ceausescu had announced:

I have ordered that all tourist activity be interrupted at once. Not one more foreign tourist will be allowed in, because they have all turned into agents of espionage….Not even those from the socialist countries will be allowed in, outside of [North] Korea, China, and Cuba. Because all the neighboring socialist countries are untrustworthy. Those sent from the neighboring socialist countries are sent as agents.[5]

On Monday, 18 December 1989, in typical Ceausist-style it was therefore announced that Romania would not accept any more tourists because of a “shortage of hotel rooms” and because “weather conditions” were “not suitable for tourism.”[6] Ironically, the only ones exempted from this ban were: “Soviet travellers coming home from shopping trips to Yugoslavia”(!)[7]

excerpt from https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/rewriting-the-revolution-1997-chapter-6-18-22-december-1989/

Therefore, not only were Securitate officers unable to find a foreign hand behind the Timisoara unrest, but the Ceausescu regime which blocked the entrance of new Soviet citizens into the country and supposedly had suspicions about those “in transit” through the country, appear to have done nothing to expel or stop the very people they suspected.

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Final Boarding Call for TAROM’s special ROMBAC service from Bucuresti to Sibiu: Would the large party of suspicious “Soviet tourists” please report to the gate immediately! (II)

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on August 11, 2013

[not for reproduction without prior author permission; based on multiple publications from earlier research]

Part I https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/2013/08/10/final-boarding-call-for-taroms-special-rombac-service-from-bucuresti-to-sibiu-would-the-large-party-of-suspicious-soviet-tourists-please-report-to-the-gate-immediately-i/

As I alluded to in Part I, the suggestion that dozens of Soviet agents posing as “Soviet tourists” flew unperturbed on a special TAROM ROMBAC flight from Bucuresti Otopeni to Sibiu, the fiefdom of Nicolae Ceausescu’s son, Nicu, on Wednesday 20 December 1989, begs even more basic questions:  how the heck did they get into the country, travel to the capital, and to the capital’s airport in the first place, let alone gain entrance to the airport, pass through security (supposedly with guns in their luggage!), and board the plane?

After all, those who posit a role for the Soviet tourists in the December 1989 events frequently claim that the Soviet tourists were present and involved in the Timisoara unrest of 15-19 December 1989.  A brief search just from just the past few years reveals the (Ro)mania about the “Soviet tourists” in December 1989 has hardly abated:

http://www.historia.ro/exclusiv_web/general/articol/invazia-sovietica-trebuia-sa-inceapa-constanta

http://www.libertatea.ro/detalii/articol/25-000-de-spioni-kgb-au-stapanit-romania-aproape-un-an-428106.html

(invokes Larry Watts claim, which recycles an older claim by Petre Roman from 1994, from With Friends Like These (English edition), p. 26 Footnote #90 )

http://www.exploziv-news.ro/lovitura-de-stat-1989/729-un-american-acuza-lovitura-de-stat-din-decembrie-1989-orchestrata-de-moscova-miza-impiedicarea-unirii-romaniei-cu-basarabia-cotropirea-ardealului-de-catre-ungaria-si-distrugerea-unitatilor-romanesti-anti-kgb.html

http://www.bookiseala.ro/grigore-cartianu-crimele-revolutiei/38586.html

http://www.adevarulshop.ro/crimele-revolutiei-sangeroasa-diversiune-a-kgb-istilor-din-fsn.html

(the last two are Grigore Cartianu’s writings; Cartianu was promoted by Vladimir Tismaneanu and IICCMER here ”).”http://tismaneanu.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/deshumarea-lui-ceausescu-un-pas-spre-adevar/ “ and  http://tismaneanu.wordpress.com/2010/12/15/joi-11-30h-dezbatere-publica-la-iiccmer-armand-gosu-raluca-grosescu-grigore-cartianu-mihail-neamtu/)

http://www.agero-stuttgart.de/REVISTA-AGERO/COMENTARII/Rolul%20turistilor%20straini%20in%20lovitura%20de%20stat%20de%20Brudascu.htm

http://www.evz.ro/detalii/stiri/operatiunea-kgb-decembrie-1989-423201.html

THE FOLLOWING SHOULD, IN A PERFECT WORLD, DEMOLISH THE THESIS ABOUT THE ALLEGED ROLE OF SOVIET TOURISTS IN SPARKING THE TIMISOARA UPRISING!

https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/2013/04/29/high-time-to-unpack-already-why-the-restless-journey-of-the-soviet-tourists-of-the-romanian-revolution-should-come-to-an-end/

The Timisoara files about December 1989 are now publicly available (when the link works!) on the Internet at http://dosarelerevolutiei.ro/.  What they show is that Securitate, Militia, and other regime officials from Timis County were asked by Bucharest–communicated via the person of Securitate Director, General Iulian Vlad–to investigate the role of foreign elements, specifically tourists, in the Timisoara protests of mid-December 1989.  But they were not the only ones.  General Vlad tasked senior Securitate officials from Bucharest sent to Timisoara to report back to him on this very topic alleging external involvement and manipulation of the Timisoara demonstrations.  What remains unclear is how much of this tasking was General Vlad communicating his own “hypothesis” or how much of it was he relaying Nicolae Ceausescu’s “theory” about what was going on.  This much is clear:  neither those stationed in Timis County, nor those officials sent from Bucharest could find evidence of a foreign hand in the Timisoara uprising, despite being asked to investigate exactly this aspect.  How do we know this?  From their own written confessions immediately after the December 1989 events.  (Below are four of them:  Nicolae Mavru, Liviu Dinulescu, Emil Macri, and Filip Teodorescu.)

Niculae Mavru, fost sef al sectiei ‘Filaj si investigatie’ de la Securitatea Timis, declaratia din 13 ianuarie 1990:  …la ordinul col. Sima Traian, am primit…misiuni de a observa si sesiza aspecte din masa manifestantilor, din diferite zone ale orasului in sensul de a raporta daca sint straini (ceea ce nu prea au fost) care incita la dezordine, acte de violenta sau altfel de acte…

0331

25 iunie 1991

“Desi ne-am straduit nu am putut raporta col. Sima implicarea completa a vreunui cetatean strain in evolutia demonstratiilor cit si fenomenlor care au avut loc la Timisoara,..”

0173

“Sarcina primordiala pe care am primit-o de la col. Sima a fost daca in evenimentele declansate la Timisoara erau implicate elemente straine din afara tarii.  Cu toate eforturile facute nu a rezultat lucru pe linia mea de munca.”

0174

26 iunie 1991, Declaratia lui Liviu Dinulescu, cpt. la Serviciul de Pasapoarte al jud. Timis (in decembrie 1989, lt. maj. ofiter operativ Securitate judetean la Serv. III, care se ocupa de contraspionaj)

“Precizez ca anterior declansarii evenimentelor de la Timisoara din datele ce le detineam serviciul nostru nu rezulta vreun amestec din exterior in zona judetului Timis.”

0197

Generalul Emil Macri (seful Dir. II-a Securitatii, Contrainformatii Economice),

Declaratie 2 ianuarie 1990:

“Rezumind sintetic informatiile obtinute ele nu au pus in evidenta nici lideri si nici amestecul vreunei puteri straine in producerea evenimentelor de la Timisoara.  Raportarea acestor date la esalonul superior respectivi generalului I. Vlad a produs iritare si chiar suparare…”

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IMG_1215

Filip Teodorescu (adj. sef. Dir III Contraspionaj D.S.S.), Declaratie, 12 ianaurie 1990: 

Seara [luni, 18 decembrie 1989], dupa 23:00, responsabili (anumiti ?) de generalul-maior Macri Emil pe diferitele linii de munca au inceput sa vina sa-i raporteze informatiile obtinute.  Au fost destul de neconcludente si cu mare dificultate am redat o informare pe care generalul-maior Macri Emil a acceptat-o si am expediat-o prin telex in jurul orei 01:00 [marti, 19 decembrie 1989.  In esenta se refera la:

–nu sint date ca ar exista instigatori sau conducatori anume veniti din strainatate…

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